Britney Spears doesn't have cash to buy herself food, medicine and other basic goods, is selling off homes and has seen record advances decline, according to a New York Times story on her financial situation. This despite the fact she's worth around $50 million and was averaging $760,000 per month in royalties as of May 2007. In the past two years, she listed or sold a $7.5 million Hollywood home, a $10 million house in Malibu and a $4 million condo in Manhattan. Where does the money go? She spends around $102,000 per month entertaining herself, traveling and giving gifts; lawyers are trying to determine whether the rest is tied up in "risky investment vehicles" or other business deals. Also? Someone may be stealing right from under her nose:

Her father filed a report of grand theft, according to The Los Angeles Times, asserting that paintings, jewelry and other valuables had been stripped from her Beverly Hills home.

No one is named as a potential thief, and given Spears' mental state and volatile relationships it will not be easy to investigate the case. Sam Lutfi is one obvious possibility, since the hanger-on was recently served with a restraining order and accused of drugging and threatening Spears. Another handler, Adnan Ghalib, has had his motives questioned but not faced charges of coercion.

To mount a comeback, Spears would need to get her head screwed on straight, which she is only starting to do, then stabilize her finances, find or create some music to get behind, get "fit [and] beautiful,"mount a tour, and then try and make some real money selling "T-shirts, key chains, dolls and countless other Britney-branded goods."

(Spears' album advances have been declining steadily and tours cost nearly as much as they make, so she needs to make money on the merchandise.)

Could she pull it off? Everyone in the article is optimistic:

"My gut feeling is people will still want to be associated with her," [Steve Lunt, who oversaw Ms. Spears's musical endeavors as a vice president at Jive until 2006] said. "Everyone thinks there's going to be a comeback at some point. You could mention her name in Afghanistan, Israel, Greece or South Africa, and everyone knows who she is. You can't buy that."