Johnny Depp Blames Ex-Managers for $40 Million Debt: "It's My Money"

"If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it's my thing," the actor says

By Zach Johnson Apr 26, 2017 12:00 PMTags
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Johnny Depp isn't just in the red—he's seeing red.

Depp sued The Management Group in January for $25 million, alleging fraud and negligence. He also accused the L.A.-based firm, run by brothers Joel Mandel and Rob Mandel, of failing to file his taxes on time and taking out high-interest loans on his behalf. Depp claimed that TMG led him to be more than $40 million in debt. In a countersuit, the actor's ex-managers cited Depp's lavish lifestyle as the cause of his financial downfall. "Depp lived an ultra-extravagant lifestyle that often knowingly cost Depp in excess of $2 million per month to maintain, which he simply could not afford," the Mandel brothers' attorney, Michael Kump, wrote in the cross-complaint. "Depp, and Depp alone, is fully responsible for any financial turmoil he finds himself in today."

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The actor filed the suit the same day his divorce from Amber Heard was finalized.

"TMG did everything within its power over the last 17 years to protect Depp from himself and to keep Depp financially solvent," Kump wrote in his clients' cross-complaint, as E! News first reported Jan. 31. "However, ultimately TMG did not have the power or ability to control Depp's spending or his numerous other vices, or to force Depp to make wiser financial decisions."

The actor addressed his financial situation for the first time Tuesday.

"Why didn't they drop me as a client if I was so out of control?" the 53-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales actor asked in a Wall Street Journal interview. "I've worked very, very hard for a lot of years and trusted a lot of people, some who've clearly let me down."

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Depp is seeking $25 million in damages for fraud and negligence.

The actor also cited his right to spend his money however he sees fit.

"It's my money," Depp said. "If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it's my thing."

The actor also claimed that the Mandel brothers lied about certain aspects of the countersuit related to his 14 homes, as well as $18 million allegedly spent on a luxury yacht and $30,000 per month on wine. "Depp also paid over $3 million to blast from a specially-made cannon the ashes of author Hunter Thompson over Aspen, Co.," Kump wrote in cross-complaint. Depp challenged that figure, telling The Wall Street Journal that the cannon actually cost $5 million.

"We look forward to responding to Mr. Depp's latest falsehoods in our amended pleadings," David Shane, spokesman for the Management Group, said Tuesday. TMG is seeking $560,000 in unpaid fees, as well as a ruling that Depp is solely responsible for his current financial situation.

Alleging breach of contract and fraud, the Mandel brothers claimed the Alice Through the Looking Glass star has a "selfish, reckless and irresponsible lifestyle" costing $2 million a month.

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In court filings Tuesday, Depp's lawyers claimed to have received what they called "significant new information, including documents and testimony" from a former Management Group employee. The testimony concerns TMG's "misconduct in managing Mr. Depp's affairs," the filing alleged. The filing is a response to a motion by the Mandels to keep the testimony private.

Depp first learned about the employee Feb. 7, when he received an email about that person. The employee had allegedly been fired for complaining about how his money had been moved.

The actor's attorneys deposed the former employee March 2. In response, Shane said Depp is "relying on dishonest, discredited statements from a vindictive former TMG employee who was fired seven years ago." Depp's attorney, Adam Waldman, alleged that the Mandel brothers simply don't "want the whistleblower testimony made public because of fear of incrimination."

The Mandel Company has demanded a trial by jury on all issues.

In response to countersuit, Depp's lawyer issued a statement in January: "How cataloguing alleged spending by Mr. Depp of his own money could somehow absolve the defendants of their large and multi-faceted mosaic of wrongdoing will ultimately be determined by the court."