Brad Pitt goes off on Angelina Jolie’s ‘vindictive’ winery sale. And she fires back
Brad Pitt’s legal team is claiming that his ex-wife Angelina Jolie “vindictively” sold her stake in their Chateau Miraval winery behind his back and says she “sought to inflict harm on Pitt” in new court documents that reveal more details about the unraveling of the former power couple’s relationship.
But Jolie’s camp insists that Pitt refused to complete a Miraval sale with Jolie “unless she agreed to being silenced about” his alleged abuse.
The latest development in their contentious civil lawsuit arrived in court Thursday when the “Babylon” actor accused Jolie and her company, Nouvel, of secretly selling her share of their south-of-France winery to “seize profits she had not earned and returns on an investment she did not make.” He claimed that his investment in the business “exceeded Jolie’s by nearly $50 million.”
Pitt first sued Jolie in February 2022, alleging that she illegally sold her shares in the family-owned and -operated vineyard, which makes everything from rosé to vodka, to billionaire Yuri Shefler. The actor has claimed that Jolie used legal means to skirt an obligation to get Pitt’s approval of the deal, and last June, the Stoli vodka-related Shefler and Alexey Oliynik were added as defendants to the revised lawsuit. In October, Jolie filed a cross-complaint, which argued that the couple had no agreement whatsoever regarding both sides consenting to the sale of either party’s interest in the property and detailed the abuse allegations that prompted Jolie to file for divorce in 2016.
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The exes, who met on the set of the 2005 movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” acquired the Chateau Miraval estate in 2008 for $28.4 million and were married there in 2014. Though the two became legally unmarried in 2019, their contentious divorce proceedings are ongoing separate from the Miraval lawsuit.
In a second amended complaint and an accompanying document filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, representatives for Pitt and his company, Mondo Bongo, allege that Jolie in 2019 agreed to either jointly sell the home and vineyard, which they planned to pass on to their six children, or have Pitt buy out her stake in them.
Jolie, who Pitt claims had a nominal 50-50 interest in the venture, had allegedly promised Pitt that she would “leave with what I put in and nothing additional,” according to Pitt’s court documents obtained Friday by The Times. However, recognizing Pitt’s additional investments in the winery, Jolie agreed that “a 68-32 allocation of proceeds between Pitt and herself would be fair,” his team said.
But those agreements were upended in the summer of 2021 amid the heated custody dispute between the Oscar winners following their 2016 divorce, as well as revelations stemming from a family altercation on a 2016 flight back from France that resulted in an FBI investigation. Pitt claims that Jolie reneged on the exclusive buyout negotiations they had agreed on in early 2021 when she originally said she wanted out. (Jolie has alleged that she agreed to sell her entire interest in Chateau Miraval to Pitt for $54.5 million.)
“Jolie terminated those discussions and secretly purported to sell a 50 percent stake in the family home and family business to Tenute del Mondo,” the documents said. Tenute del Mondo is part of the Russia-affiliated spirits conglomerate Stoli Group, which Shefler owns.
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Pitt and Mondo Bongo claim that they learned of Jolie’s putative sale to Stoli through a press release announcing that Stoli was “thrilled to have a position alongside Brad Pitt as curators” of Miraval rosé, the documents said, alleging that the move was made “by design” and that Jolie collaborated in secret with Shefler to carry out the purported sale.
The “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” star and Mondo Bongo accuse co-defendant Stoli of attempting a hostile takeover of the wine business and destabilizing Miraval’s operations. The plaintiffs claim Stoli did so by seeking access to Miraval’s confidential and proprietary information “for the benefit of Shefler’s competing enterprise, and trying to tear apart the winemaking partnership between the Pitt and Perrin families that is at the heart of Miraval and key to its success,” the second amended complaint said. Pitt also complained that he could no longer enjoy his private residence, as it was now co-owned by strangers.
Additionally, Pitt is claiming that Jolie made the putative sale “in the wake of the adverse custody ruling” in their protracted divorce proceedings that favorably and temporarily awarded joint custody of their children to Pitt.
In answer to Jolie’s cross-complaint, Pitt’s team and Mondo Bongo on Thursday denied every allegation the “Girl, Interrupted” Oscar winner made in her cross-complaint and further denied that Jolie “is entitled to any relief whatsoever.”
“Jolie’s actions were unlawful, severely and intentionally damaging Pitt and unjustly enriching herself,” his team alleges.
Pitt is asking that the sale be undone and that he be awarded punitive and compensatory damages to be determined at a jury trial, as well as the repayment of his legal fees. Efforts to settle the lawsuit have been unsuccessful, The Times has learned.
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Jolie’s legal team has argued that Pitt has no basis to sue her because they never codified an agreement to only sell to one another. Additionally, in her cross-complaint, Jolie said that she was growing uncomfortable in participating in an alcohol-related business given Pitt’s “acknowledged problem of alcohol abuse.” She also said she had substantial assets tied up in Miraval that she wanted freed up following their split.
The “Maleficent” star alleged that she offered to sell her interest in Chateau Miraval to Pitt, but said in exchange for his purchase, the actor demanded she sign a nondisclosure agreement that would have contractually prohibited her from speaking outside of court about Pitt’s physical and emotional abuse of her and their children. (This after a sealed document filed in their custody case was presented as proof of his alleged domestic violence.)
“Jolie refused to agree to such a provision, and Pitt walked away from the deal,” the cross-complaint said, equating the “distressing and coercive to the point of being abusive” provision as an attempt to silence her in the wake of “these traumatic events” on the airplane.
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“No matter how many times Mr. Pitt amends his complaint, he cannot escape from the fact that he verbally and physically assaulted Ms. Jolie and their children — even choking one of the children and striking another,” Jolie’s attorney Paul Murphy said Friday in a statement to The Times.
“Still today and in the seven years since that fateful plane ride, he personally has never publicly denied that it happened. The reality is that Pitt refused to complete the Miraval sale with Jolie unless she agreed to being silenced about the abuse,” Murphy added.
Jolie’s cross-complaint also reiterated essentially the same allegations of domestic abuse that were revealed in August 2022 after Jolie filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI, which investigated the in-flight altercation. Her cross-complaint alleged that the FBI agent who conducted the investigation “concluded that the government had probable cause to charge Pitt with a federal crime for his conduct that day.”
Pitt was never charged in connection with the incident, either by the U.S. attorney’s office or the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, which investigated the incident — and its allegation of child abuse — before the FBI got involved. The FBI decided in November 2016 to close its probe without filing any charges against him.
Times staff writer Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this report.
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