Weeks after newly public FBI records revealed allegations from Angelina Jolie that ex-husband Brad Pitt had abused her and their shared children, a new, $250 million lawsuit filed on Tuesday by a company founded by Jolie offers more insights into how Pitt allegedly tried to silence Jolie about the circumstances surrounding their divorce. The suit alleges that Pitt squandered the tens of millions she’d invested in the couple’s shared winery, Chateau Miraval, and claims Pitt and his associates used underhanded tactics to “seize control” of the winery “in retaliation for the divorce and custody proceedings,” to “ensure… Jolie would never see a dime” of its profits.
Pitt and Jolie first bought Miraval in 2008, both investing millions into the project. According to the lawsuit, each owned 50% of the winery through their varying holding companies, and “much of Jolie’s personal wealth” had been poured into Miraval. Nouvel, which is now suing Pitt, was founded by Jolie specifically to retain her stake in Miraval, until she recently sold it to the liquor giant Stoli in October 2021. Jolie initially tried to sell Nouvel (and thus, her stakes in Miraval) to Pitt, but Nouvel’s suit claims this went sideways when “Pitt’s hubris got the better of him,” alleging that he “made an eleventh-hour demand for onerous and irrelevant conditions, including a provision designed to prohibit Jolie from publicly speaking about the events that had led to the breakdown of their marriage.”
The suit continues: “Pitt knew that much of Jolie’s wealth and liquidity were tied up in [her stake in the winery] and used that fact to try to force Jolie to agree to his unreasonable terms.” Pitt then allegedly “ignored” Jolie’s final offer to him, in which she agreed to all of Pitt’s previous terms “but without the hush-clause,” prompting Jolie to sell Nouvel to Stoli. This new background on the situation is certainly eyebrow-raising given previous claims made by Pitt. In February, he filed a lawsuit alleging that Jolie intentionally “sought to inflict harm” by selling her part of their shared winery to a Russian “stranger” with whom she knew Pitt didn’t want to go into business.
If you’re wondering why Pitt would try to financially coerce Jolie into silence about their split, the aforementioned, newly public FBI records offer some insights. Per the documents, Jolie alleges that in 2016 when the family was on a private jet, an intoxicated Pitt got into an altercation with their teenage son Maddox. After Jolie intervened, Pitt allegedly pushed her against a wall, grabbed her head, spilled his drink on her, and yelled at her and the kids. At one point, after he allegedly punched the ceiling of the plane four times and told Jolie, “You’re fucking up this family,” the kids asked, “Are you OK, Mommy?” Pitt allegedly replied: “No, she’s not OK, she’s ruining this family, she’s crazy.” When the plane eventually landed, Jolie alleges it had sustained $25,000 worth of damage from Pitt’s rampage. Shortly after the incident, Jolie filed for divorce.
Nouvel’s lawsuit against Pitt references his “publicly acknowledged alcohol abuse problem.” Even prior to the FBI records going public last month, Jolie has previously alluded to experiencing domestic violence whilst advocating for the Violence Against Women Act and hinted that Pitt had mistreated her in a 2021 interview with The Guardian. A “source” close to Pitt dismissed news about the FBI records in August by claiming Jolie and “her team” are “desperately trying to find something,” and “this is all for show.”
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As for the rest of Nouvel’s suit against Pitt, its details about his mismanagement of Miraval are also telling. Shortly after Pitt and Jolie bought the winery, they determined that Jolie would handle the couple’s philanthropic projects, including the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, while Pitt would oversee the winery, according to the documents. Nouvel claims that for years, against Jolie’s wishes or often without informing her, Pitt would spend millions on vanity projects including over $1 million on a swimming pool, as well as millions on one staircase that Pitt required to be “built and rebuilt a total of four times after he was unhappy with the first three attempts.” Throughout all of these shenanigans, Nouvel alleges that Pitt “blocked Jolie and Nouvel from obtaining information about or managing Chateau Miraval.”
This is in pretty stark contrast with Pitt’s claims in his February suit alleging that Jolie contributed “nothing to Miraval’s success” and that she sold her stakes deliberately to aid the Russian businessman Yuri Shefler’s efforts to take over Miraval, against Pitt’s wishes.
Pitt has yet to publicly respond to Nouvel’s lawsuit against him. The striking claims in Nouvel’s suit offer the latest glimpse into just how messy and acrimonious the couple’s split truly was and still is.