Johnny Depp — “alternately hilarious, sly and incoherent” in a major new Rolling Stone profile focusing on the actor’s legal and financial woes — has, according to the article, made $650 million on films that netted $3.6 billion. “Almost all of it,” says the magazine, “is gone.”
The piece, titled “The Trouble With Johnny Depp” and written by Stephen Rodrick, details Depp’s lawsuits against The Management Group, run by Depp’s longtime business manager Joel Mandel and his brother Robert, for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. “The suit cites, among other things, that under TMG’s watch Depp’s sister Christi was given $7 million and his assistant, Nathan Holmes, $750,000, without his knowledge, and that he has paid the IRS more than $5.6 million in late fees.” The suit seeks more than $25 million from TMG, accounting for tens of millions it claims TMG illegally took for its commission, plus any additional damages the court sees fit.
Among the article’s highlights:
-The Mandels deny all wrongdoing and are countersuing, alleging, among other things, that Depp has a $2-million-a-month compulsory-spending disorder, offering bons mots like, “Wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it.” Depp concocted “malicious and false allegations” against the company, according to TMG’s countersuit, because TMG had filed a private foreclosure notice on one of Depp’s properties;
-Depp’s closest confidant these days is Adam Waldman, a 49-year-old lawyer the actor met less than two years ago. “Waldman seems to have convinced Depp that they are freedom fighters taking on the Hollywood machine rather than scavengers squabbling over the scraps of a fortune squandered.”
-A constant in Depp’s business, the magazine writes, was older sister Christi, who managed his day-to-day affairs and who did not participate in the Rolling Stone article. In 1999, she and Depp sought a bigger management company, and Depp now says he chose Robert and Joel Mandel, brothers who ran TMG, because the actor saw in Joel a kindred spirit. “He was a nervous wreck,” says Depp. “He was pouring sweat. He was broken.” (TMG disputes the portrayal).
-On Harvey Weinstein: “He flips through the news and comes across a report on Harvey Weinstein. He shakes his head and calls him an asshole for burying his film Dead Man because director Jim Jarmusch refused to give up his contractually mandated final cut. ‘He was a bully,’ says Depp. ‘Have you seen his wife? It’s not a wide range. It’s not like he went, ‘I must go to the Poconos to find some hairy-backed bitch.'” Later, Depp says of Weinstein, “The image that took my breath away was Harvey Weinstein, a goliath Shrek thing, bending down to put on his daughter’s raincoat.”
-On Donald Trump: At last year’s Glastonbury Festival, Depp, “perhaps drunkenly,” asked, “Can we bring Trump here? . . . When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” Depp now says he “was trying to connect it to Trump saying he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, but it didn’t come out right.”
-Waldman contacted Rolling Stone to get the ball rolling on the profile. “He pointed to what he perceived to be an anti-Depp story in The Hollywood Reporter, where the Mandels were cast as eminently reasonable men who repeatedly tried to warn Depp about his precarious financial positioning. Nobody from TMG was quoted, but Waldman was convinced its fingerprints were all over the story.”
–Rolling Stone cites a Business Insider story claiming that Waldman has been paid more than $2.3 million for his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and Russian oligarch with strong ties to the Russian president. “Meanwhile, Deripaska became a bit player in the Russian-collusion scandal when it was reported by The Washington Post that then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to give Deripaska private briefings on the campaign shortly before the GOP convention.”
Waldman hooked up with Depp in October 2016, “having been told by a client that Depp needed help. TMG had just slapped the foreclosure notice on his L.A. homes for failure to make payments on a $5 million loan from the company. TMG had filed it as a nonjudicial foreclosure so there were no public filings. The public at this point had no idea of Depp’s financial situation.”
-Under Waldman’s guidance, Depp filed a lawsuit against the Mandels, claiming that the actor wasn’t given monthly financial statements and “often was presented only a signature page to sign for transactions. The suit further alleged that – in addition to the $7 million given to his sister Christi – TMG had cost Depp $6 million in tacked-on fees by paying his IRS taxes late for 13 years straight.” Depp also accused TMG of taking out $34 million in loans in his name as a result of mismanagement, “with the final straw being a $12.5 million “hard money” loan engineered by his longtime attorney Jake Bloom in 2014, at 10 percent interest.” The loan stipulated “Christi’s, Bloom’s and the Mandels’ fees would be paid before loan repayments and definitely before Depp saw a dime of residuals from his Pirates of the Caribbean series.”
-Depp and Waldman believe his lawsuit “will change Hollywood forever,” says the article. “The suit swings for the fences and claims TMG owes Depp more than $25 million in ill-gotten five-percent commissions because, among other reasons, they claim TMG had acted not only as financial managers but also as lawyers, meaning it needed to enter a new agreement with Depp for each movie deal.” The same charge would be eventually levied against Bloom, who has filed a countersuit, denying all the claims.
-When Depp’s current and old teams met for a settlement discussion, Joel Mandel “lost it,” saying: “You’ve cost me tens of millions of dollars. Now it’s my turn. I’m gonna destroy Johnny. They’ll know everything.” (Mandel and his attorney dispute Rolling Stone‘s version of that encounter).
At one point, Depp is asked by the reporter what he makes of all the “legal shenanigans.” Says the actor: “I’m just a small part of this. It’s the f*cking Matrix. I didn’t see the movie, and I didn’t understand the script, but here’s what it is.”
-Last summer, TMG filed “a thermo-nuclear” lawsuit” that “described the actor as a spoiled brat with no impulse control” and that “Depp lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million a month to maintain, which he simply could not afford.”
-The purchases listed by TMG “read like Depp gave his wallet to a tween with ADD. There was $75 million for 14 residences. He spent $3 million to shoot his pal Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes into the sky from a cannon. A mere $7,000 to buy his daughter a couch from the set of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. He bought some 70 guitars and 200 pieces of art, including Basquiats and Warhols, owned 45 luxury vehicles and spent $200,000 a month on private air travel.”
-On May 20, 2016, when Depp’s mother died, Depp’s then-wife Amber Heard asked a friend to call 911 to report that the actress was being beaten by Depp. Later, photographs of a bruised Heard emerged. She filed for divorce two days later, and received a reported $7 million payment, with both signing nondisclosure agreements.
On his self-proclaimed lack of involvement in his own business affairs, Depp says,
“If there were things for me to sign that would come in – and there would be occasionally – I would sign them like this,” says Depp, pantomiming signing an imaginary paper with his right hand while his head was swiveled far to the left, staring into the London gloom. “I don’t want to f*cking see what they are because I trust these people.”
Later, he grimaces: “Now I look right at everything I sign.”
Later, Depp says “If you’re knowingly not paying the United States government taxes, somebody is gonna f*cking catch up with you and hand you a bill and you’ll probably go to the pokey.”
Responds TMG’s lawyers:
“In 30 years of business, no current or former client of TMG has raised any issue, other than Johnny Depp, who continues to spread malicious, unfounded lies about the company. TMG will vigorously defend and defeat all of Depp’s fabricated claims.”
-Says Rolling Stone, “This spring showed Depp’s legal team in disarray. In April, the team gave notice that it was quitting and an obscure Orange County firm was taking its place. Three weeks later, Ben Chew, Depp’s chief litigator, re-emerged and signed back up with Waldman. Adding to his troubles, Depp is being sued by his American bodyguards for back wages, and they have alleged they had to alert Depp to ‘illegal substances visible on his face and person’ when in public. After many delays, Depp finally sat for a deposition on May 26. The trial is still scheduled for August. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
His future: Depp, says the article, “rambles on about what he wants to do as soon as the lawsuits are settled and he is vindicated. There is a French book he wants to adapt and direct. It’s about a man who loses his wife, loses everything and then checks into a senior-citizen home even though he’s only in his forties. Depp says the book is called Happier Days.