4:25pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Mischa Barton Sues Mother, Claiming Talent Management Exploitation
Mischa Barton filed suit Tuesday against her mother, Nuala Barton, claiming she's withheld her daughter's career earnings and otherwise exploited her fame.
The complaint, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, reads like a soap opera: "This action arises from the tragic tale of a greedy stage mother posing as a talent manager who, instead of acting in the best interest of her daughter/client, schemed to defraud her unsuspecting victim."
Barton is seeking unspecified damages, triple the amount the court finds her mother to have withheld. Her five-count complaint includes claims of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and conversion.
The Sixth Sense and The O.C. actress claims her mother "had absolutely no experience or training" in talent management when she took on her daughter's career. She claims Nuala set up a scheme in which she exclusively controlled Mischa's finances and only "doled out an ‘allowance’ to Barton at her sole discretion and on a sporadic basis."
She alleges her mother induced her to buy a Beverly Hills home for $7.8 million in 2006 and "represented to Barton that the lavish home would be a vehicle for which Barton could invest her growing income for acting services," but she structured the purchase to assign herself half-ownership of the property. "Nuala and Barton’s father currently reside comfortably in the $7.8 million home. Barton is not welcome at the property," continues the complaint.
Nuala allegedly lied about Mischa's compensation for acting in the horror film The Hoarder "so that she could pocket the difference — on top of her hefty management fee — all without Barton’s knowledge." She entered her daughter into endorsement contracts without telling her and launched enterprises like a Mischa Barton handbag line and Mischa Barton fashion boutique in London without compensating her daughter, claims the actress.
"Nuala currently refuses to provide Barton with any of the funds she earned (and continues to earn in the form of residual payments) for her acting, modeling and endorsement services," reads the complaint.
"These revelations of exploitation and fraud, coupled with ongoing instances of bullying and verbal abuse, eventually led to the breakdown of Barton and Nuala's personal and professional relationship,” claims Barton, who is now with APA and LINK — “a reputable talent manager."
Alex Weingarten of Venable filed the complaint.
Nuala's attorney Lawrence Ecoff of Ecoff Landsberg tells THR neither he nor Nuala have received the complaint. They declined to comment.