Johnny Depp’s ex-business managers are fighting to subpoena his longtime reps as part of the ongoing dispute over whether the actor knew the dire state of his finances — and have made public emails they say prove their case.
The actor sued Joel Mandel and The Management Group in January, claiming the firm cost him $8 million in unnecessary tax penalties and fees, loaned without permission $10 million of his money to parties close to him, secured a $12.5 million hard money loan with his residuals and failed to repay itself for a $5 million bridge loan it issued without his knowledge. Mandel countersued, claiming Depp was well aware of the situation — and so were his longtime agent Tracey Jacobs and lawyer Jake Bloom, as well as his sister Christi Dembrowski.
Depp’s legal team has filed a motion to quash subpoenas to Jacobs and Bloom for communications regarding the actor’s finances, arguing that they’re overbroad.
TMG says Mandel, Bloom, Jacobs and Dembrowski served as Depp’s inner circle and the four acted in concert to protect his financial and business interests — and the information sought in the subpoenas served to the Bloom Hergott attorney and UTA agent are critical to the dispute.
“[E]ach member of the team had numerous individual communications with Depp and each other, which, taken together, will overwhelmingly establish that Depp was always fully informed regarding his financial problems, and of course, always knew that he was borrowing money to afford his extravagant lifestyle,” writes attorney Suann MacIsaac in a Monday court filing.
As to Dembrowski, MacIsaac says it’s absurd that Depp would try to limit discovery regarding her knowledge. “In an attached email, Dembrowski even describes herself as Depp’s ‘one stop informational center,’ while instructing a TMG employee that all documents sent to Depp for signature must go through her,” writes the attorney.
In addition to that email, TMG’s filing includes several others it says prove the actor was in the loop through his sister.
Only one email exchange directly between Depp and Mandel is included. It addresses the actor’s need to “take it easy” on spending as well as his $75 million combined pay from The Tourist, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film and Dark Shadows. (The full exchange is posted below.)
Depp asks “what else can I do???” and offers to sell his possessions. “i got bikes, cars, property, books, paintings and some semblance of a soul left. where would you like me to start???”
In a Jan. 25, 2010, email to Dembrowski, Mandel writes, “We are almost $4,000,000 overdrawn” and asks Depp’s sister to get him to sign loan documents for a $6 million loan. She responds, “was gonna get them to you this afternoon…no worries!”
A 2014 exchange between Dembrowski and Mandel addresses the loan secured by profit participation from five of Depp’s films, which the actor says was done without his knowledge.
“I need your help this week to coordinate having J sign that Letter of Intent regarding this new loan,” writes Mandel in the email. “More than that, it is critical to us that J understand what he is signing and, either now or very soon, how this loan will impact him moving forward.”
Dembrowski writes back, “I don’t understand impact moving forward.”
Mandel says he would be happy to give a longer explanation but, in short: “[A]s you know we are pledging our primary Disney profit participations. These monies will be required to pay back the loan and will be unavailable to us for a number of years (likely next 4-5 years). These monies have been a significant source of our income, and have sustained us during the periods between new work. Without access to these monies, even greater reductions in spending will be necessary.”
TMG argues that evidence supporting that Dembrowski’s role as his authorized agent is critical because often “Depp was either unavailable or unwilling to speak with Mandel regarding his finances.”
TMG says Depp is fighting the discovery requests because the evidence will undercut his claim that the firm hid the state of his finances from him.
“Depp wants to deny this discovery because it will establish that TMG did everything within its power to make Depp, and all of his closest advisors, fully aware of Depp’s financial condition,” writes MacIsaac. “If TMG was trying to hide Depp’s finances to cover-up their alleged misconduct, they would not have repeatedly advised Depp’s long-term personal lawyer, Jake Bloom, and his longtime agent, Tracey Jacobs, regarding the situation.”
Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the filing. “The Mandels present emails from a trio of advisors to whom they paid over $100 million of Mr. Depp’s earnings without any contracts (in addition to the tens of millions they paid themselves),” writes Waldman. “How exactly do these advisor emails defend or excuse Joel Mandel from allegations of ‘bad fakes’ of Mr Depp’s signature on bank loans, handing out millions of dollars in sham ‘loans,’ ordering his subordinates to ‘alter financial statements’ and falsely notarize documents, failure to timely pay and/or file taxes for 16 straight years costing Mr Depp over $8 million in penalties, sneaking rights for themselves and others to Mr Depp’s movie residuals into hard money loan agreements and the litany of additional, specific allegations in this fraud and malfeasance case?”
June 20, 8:30 a.m. Updated with a statement from Depp’s attorney.