Johnny Depp sank himself into debt through “his own irresponsible and profligate spending," according to his former financial adviseos.
The star actor from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Edward Scissorhands" is accusing his onetime planners of fraud and negligence in a $25 million lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last month. The former advisors, Joel and Rob Mandel, brothers operating as the Management Group, however, filed a countersuit this week alleging the actor caused his own problems.
“Johnny Depp alone was solely responsible for his extravagant spending,” said Michael Kump, an attorney representing the advisors. “Over 17 years, the Management Group did everything possible to protect the actor from himself.”
THE BLAME GAME
Depp, 53, often spent more than $2 million per month despite warnings from his advisors that he was living beyond his means, according to the countersuit. He also bought 14 homes worldwide for more than $75 million, put down $18 million on a 150-foot luxury yacht and paid over $3 million to fire author Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon, the suit says. Thompson wrote the book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which was turned into a film starring Depp.
The actor had accused the advisors of a breach of fiduciary duty and other negligent practices leading to debts over $40 million. The Mandel brothers took in $28 million in contingency fees from Depp with no written agreement, loaned $10 million of his money without telling him and cost him $6 million by failing to pay his taxes on time, according to Depp’s lawsuit.
The actor signed paperwork the advisors asked him to sign without reading it and ignored his finances on the understanding that his advisors were serving as "loyal" fiduciaries and "prudent" stewards of his funds and finances, according to the lawsuit.
Instead, the Management Group “engaged in years of gross mismanagement, self-dealing, and at times, actual fraud,” his suit says.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
A lawyer for Depp did not return requests for comment on the countersuit Wednesday. Attorney Adam Waldman rejected the former advisors’ claims in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which reported that Depp has earned more than $650 million over his career.
“How cataloging alleged spending by Mr. Depp of his own money could somehow absolve the defendants of their own large and multifaceted mosaic of wrongdoing will ultimately be determined by the Court in this case,” Waldman said.
The Mandels argue Depp still owes them $560,000 in unpaid fees, including a 5% commission on his pay for a fifth, upcoming “Pirates” film and payments on a company credit card for charging expenses on Depp’s behalf. He switched advisors in March 2016.
They also rejected the allegations in Depp’s lawsuit that they did not file his taxes on time and acted negligently by working for him under an oral contract for their 5% fee. His lawsuit represents a “transparent attempt” to avoid a foreclosure against Depp to collect the remaining $4.2 million of a $5 million loan the advisors' firm provided him, according to the countersuit.
NO PRIVATE JET?
Depp’s other pricey purchases included artwork by Andy Warhol, Gustav Klimt and other masters, about 70 collectible guitars and Hollywood memorabilia stashed in 12 different storage facilities, the advisors claim in their countersuit.
He also employed 40 people full-time to the tune of $300,000 per month and hired security staff for himself and his children for $150,000 a month, according to the countersuit. The spending continued even when the advisors warned him to slow down, the countersuit says.
“We need to ‘take it easy’ on holiday spending,” Joel Mandel wrote in a December 2009 email to Depp included in the countersuit. Mandel asked Depp to sit down with him “so that we can talk about where we are financially.”
Depp responded, “I need to give my kiddies and famille [SIC] as good a Christmas as possible.” He also called the prospect of taking a commercial flight rather than a private jet a “nightmare of monumental proportions,” according to the exchange included in the countersuit.
“The arithmetic is straightforward: Depp spent more than he brought in, notwithstanding repeated warnings" by the advisors, the countersuit says.