As Disney prepares to release “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth film in what has been a $3.7 billion box-office franchise, star Johnny Depp’s recent financial issues have stirred public interest.
The Hollywood Reporter posted a story about Depp’s perilously trickling cash flow. Despite having earned what his managers say is more than $650 million in his 13 years with them, Depp, 53, sued Joel and Rob Mandel’s The Management Group for $25 million on Jan. 13, alleging fraud and mismanagement. TMG countersued on Jan. 31, saying it had done “everything possible to protect Depp from his own irresponsible and profligate spending” that included, its filing claims, $75 million on 14 homes, $18 million on a 156-foot yacht, $30,000 a month on wine and $3 million for the cost of scattering author Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a specially made cannon.
Depp has largely remained silent, though in April he asked The Wall Street Journal, “Why didn’t they drop me as a client if I was so out of control?” He added, “It’s my money. If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it’s my thing.”
“What do Johnny Depp’s investments in real estate and art, which have appreciated wildly, have to do with a fraud case?” the star’s attorney, Adam Waldman, asked in People magazine Thursday. “For example, the island in the Bahamas that he bought for $5.3 million is now worth many times that. Similarly, the chateau in France that he bought for single-digit millions is now on the market for $30 million, the Basquiat paintings that he bought for a few million were sold for $14 million, and on and on it goes.”
The TMG countersuit makes broader arguments about the star’s poor decision-making, however, saying his managers and other parties, including Depp’s sister and Depp’s accountant, all warned him to obtain a prenuptial agreement before his ill-fated marriage to actress Amber Heard. “After initially agreeing to do so, however, Depp dropped it and announced he was getting married anyway without a pre-nup,” the filing states.
Additional legal issues have arisen, including one The Hollywood Reporter in a lengthy analysis Wednesday said “could even change how the industry does business. . . . Depp’s new attorney is challenging the common practice of lawyers taking a percentage of their clients’ earnings without a written contract. If the suit is successful, it could open the door to a host of similar challenges.”