Angelina Jolie's former company sues Brad Pitt for USD 250 million, says he stole 'French' winery

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt arrive for the world premiere of Disney's 'Maleficent,' 28 May, 2014, at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California.AFP file photo

Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's clash over French winery Chateau Miraval has turned downright nasty, with Jolie accusing her ex-husband of seizing the business and squandering its profits in retaliation for her breaking up their marriage.

According to media reports, the lawsuit claims that the 'Troy' star secretly transferred assets to businesses owned by him and his cronies while secretly spending tens of millions of dollars of the winery's earnings on vanity projects.

"Ever since his former wife, Angelina Jolie, filed for divorce from him in 2016, Brad Pitt has been waging a vindictive war against her," according to the countersuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Jolie's former company, Nouvel.

"Pitt has frozen Nouvel out of Chateau Miraval and treats it as his personal fiefdom," the filing says.

According to sources, the ex-couple are two of the wealthiest actors in the world, with Pitt reportedly worth US$300 million and Jolie US$120 million.

For 25 million euros, the ex-Hollywood power couple purchased Chateau Miraval in 2008.

They got married on the vast 1,800-acre estate with panoramic views of the vineyards and a private lake six years later.

Pitt and Jolie divorced in 2016, but their custody battle for their six children has dragged on ever since. Now, the two are at odds over ownership of the former family getaway, a 17th-century French chateau and vineyard in Correns.

In response to a lawsuit Pitt filed earlier this year, accusing the "Maleficent" actress of surreptitiously selling her 50 per cent ownership in the winery to an alleged Russian oligarch and spirits magnate, the actress has filed a counterclaim.

Pitt referred to the sale as "vindictive and unlawful," alleging that it was done as retaliation for a disfavorable custody decision Jolie obtained the previous year. He requested that the judge void the transaction and pay him damages.

Under Pitt's leadership, the winery turned a profit and produced a rose that Wine Spectator ranked among the best 100 wines in the world.

But in her complaint, Jolie charges Pitt with orchestrating "a so far successful strategy to acquire control of Chateau Miraval," which is jointly held by Nouvel and the actor's financial firm Mondo Bongo.

The lawsuit claims that despite being Jolie's greatest investment, she had little influence over the winery's operations.

"Pitt wasted its assets, spending millions on vanity projects, including more than US$1 million on swimming pool renovations," according to the court papers.

The filing says that a staircase at the chateau was rebuilt four times at Pitt's direction because he was unhappy with the first three attempts.

The extravagant expenditures that have no "business justification" and were made over Jolie's objections have left the good winery barely breaking even. She was willing to sell her shares to her ex-husband, and they had neared a deal but "Pitt's hubris got the better of him.”

He allegedly demanded "onerous and irrelevant terms" at the last minute, including a confidentiality agreement that would prevent her from discussing the dissolution of their marriage.

After Pitt rejected her final bid in October 2021, she sold Nouvel to the Stoli Group.

But Pitt has refused to work with the business or its founder, Yuri Shefler, branding their relationship "a major international liability" for the vineyard.