Johnny Depp is suing the America Civil Liberties Union to see whether ex-wife Amber Heard ever fulfilled her promise to donate her $7m divorce settlement to charity, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Heard, 35, declared that she didn’t want Depp’s money after their explosive 2016 breakup and vowed instead to split the mammoth payment between two good causes.
But the actor’s lawyers believe the altruistic gesture was a sham and have spent more than a year chasing the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union to find out how much they actually received from the actress.
Back in January DailyMail.com revealed a series of documents turned over by hospital bosses which suggested they received only $100,000 – way short of the promised $3.5m ‘gift’.
The ACLU refused to cooperate but Depp has now ramped up the pressure by filing a motion to compel in New York Supreme Court to force them to comply with a string of subpoenas and end their ‘outrageous stonewalling’.
Depp’s lawyers want the docs to prove Heard was lying when she boasted about the giveaway, not only in media interviews but in evidence she gave to a London court.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star lost a bruising defamation case last year against the UK’s Sun newspaper when a British High Court judge agreed the publication’s depiction of him as a ‘wife beater’ was ‘substantially true’ based on blood-curdling accounts of their numerous bust-ups.
Johnny Depp is suing the ACLU to force them to reveal whether ex-wife Amber Heard gave them $3.5m from her divorce settlement as she promised, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal
Depp’s lawyers have filed a case with the Supreme Court in New York to force the ACLU to reveal whether they received any of the promised $3.5m from his ex-wife
Depp and Heard fought a bruising defamation case last year against the UK’s Sun newspaper when a British High Court judge agreed the publication’s depiction of him as a ‘wife beater’
Giving evidence in a witness statement dated February 26, 2020, Heard stated: ‘I remained financially independent from him [Depp] the whole time we were together and the entire amount of my divorce settlement was donated to charity.’
Judge Andrew Nichol cited the gesture while deciding the case in The Sun’s favor, writing: ‘Her donation of the $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger.’
Depp, 57, belatedly raised the issue of the ‘missing’ charity payments when he challenged the ruling, his lawyers arguing the UK court was fed a ‘calculated and manipulated lie, designed to achieve a potent favorable impression.’
A panel of judges said the new evidence wouldn’t make any difference, however, and refused his bid for an appeal, saddling him with $840,000 in legal costs.
That won’t stop Depp deploying the same arguments in a separate $50 million defamation suit filed in Fairfax County, Virginia, which accuses Heard of creating a ‘hoax’ account of being a domestic violence survivor for a 2018 newspaper article.
The Washington Post op-ed – headlined ‘I spoke up against sexual violence and faced our culture’s wrath, That has to change’ – didn’t mention Depp by name but he claims it wrecked his reputation and got him axed from the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.
In the new filing, the star’s lawyers point to a September 2019 declaration from Heard in the Virginia suit that states that the idea for the article came from the ACLU itself.
Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, introduced Heard to a colleague, Jessica Weitz ‘who in turn suggested the idea that [she] might write an Op-ed about how [her] experience exemplifies the issues faced by those who speak out about abuse and violence,’ the filing states.
‘Ms. Heard goes on to describe how she worked with the ACLU to draft the Op-Ed and the ACLU handled placing the Op-Ed in a newspaper.’
Depp’s lawyers say that after Heard cited her charitable giveaway in sworn evidence for the London court action they initiated legal moves in the US to get to the bottom of her claims.
Depp and Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary back in 2011 and married four years later before a now-infamous blowout fight ended their marriage in May 2016. Heard cataloged the ‘horrific’ abuse she claims to have suffered at Depp’s hands, describing him as ‘the monster’ and recalling many of the allegations she made during their divorce. The filing included photos of bruises and scars (left and right)
The American Civil Liberties Union has refused to say whether Heard donated any of the $3.5m she promised, and Depp’s lawyers have filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court in New York to compel them to say
‘Ms. Heard made multiple attempts to thwart Mr. Depp’s discovery into her purported donation of her entire divorce settlement,’ the filing states, describing how she tried and failed to have their subpoenas quashed in the Californian courts.
Heard eventually complied, as did the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, but the ACLU has so far only handed over a limited number of documents and emails.
These include a September 9, 2016 letter from Romero to Heard, on ACLU Foundation letterhead, thanking Ms. Heard for her donation of $350,000 as ‘the first installment of your very generous pledge of $3.5 million’, the motion reveals.
Also included is ’email correspondence between Ms. Heard and Mr. Romero from June 2017, reflecting that the ACLU had received a $350,000 donation from Ms. Heard, a $100,000 donation from Mr. Depp towards Ms. Heard’s pledge, and an ‘anonymous’ $500,000 which appears from the correspondence to be from ‘Elon’.
‘Elon’ is believed to refer to Tesla and Space-X founder, Elon Musk, with whom Ms. Heard is alleged to have had a romantic relationship during and following her marriage to Mr. Depp.’
Depp’s lawyers concluded from the documents that Heard donated $450,000 to the ACLU, not the $3,500,000 she claimed.
The organization indicated it ‘would not be producing the documents and testimony concerning the Op-Ed without an agreement on confidentiality.’
When no such agreement was reached, Depp’s legal crew sued in New York, where the ACLU is based.
‘The ACLU Witnesses’ reticence to provide more information ‘appears to be part of a collusive effort with Ms. Heard to prevent evidence showing that Ms. Heard perjured herself from becoming public,’ they allege.
‘Applying New York law, the Court should reject the ACLU Witnesses’ outrageous stonewalling. Mr. Depp, accordingly, respectfully requests that this Court enter an order directing the ACLU Witnesses to fully comply with the Subpoenas.’
Depp and Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary back in 2011 and married four years later before a now-infamous blowout fight ended their marriage in May 2016.
Heard sought a restraining order and a divorce claiming Depp hurled a phone in her face but after months of back and forth accusations they reached a surprise deal.
Heard said in August 2016: ‘As described in the restraining order and divorce settlement, money played no role for me personally and never has, except to the extent that I could donate it to charity and, in doing so, hopefully help those less able to defend themselves.
‘As reported in the media, the amount received in the divorce was $7 million and $7 million is being donated. This is over and above any funds that I have given away in the past and will continue to give away in the future.
‘The donation will be divided equally between the ACLU, with a particular focus to stop violence against women, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles where I have worked as a volunteer for past 10 years.’
Amber Heard, left, with her partner Bianca Butti, right, address the media outside the High Court in London after the final day of her ex-husband Johnny Depp’s libel trial. Heard cited the $7m donation in court to prove she had not been after Depp’s fortune
Judge Andrew Nichol cited the gesture while deciding the case in The Sun’s favor, writing: ‘Her donation of the $7 million to charity is hardly the act one would expect of a gold-digger’
DailyMail.com published a series of documents earlier this year however that called the pledge into doubt.
We revealed that, within days of her remarks, Edward L. White, a certified public accountant, wrote to Tiffanie Al-Nasser, a senior executive at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, enclosing a check for $100,000.
The check was signed John C. Depp II but White said in his letter that the donation was on behalf of Heard and was the first installment of a ‘pledged gift of $3,500,000’.
Depp said publicly at the time that, seeing as his wife had pledged her entire $7m divorce settlement to charity, he would go ahead and start paying the money directly to the organizations involved ‘in the name of Amber Heard.’
He backed off from sending further money on her behalf, however, when Heard suggested it would breach their deal and challenged him to double the amount.
‘If Johnny wishes to alter the settlement agreement, we must insist that he honor the full amount by donating $14m to charity, which after accounting for his tax deduction, is equal to his $7m payment obligation to Amber,’ her spokesman said in late August 2016.
‘We would also insist that the full amount be paid immediately and not drawn out over many years.’
The hospital’s thrilled CEO, Paul Viviano, meanwhile, thanked Heard for her ‘tremendous gift’ in a gushing media statement, saying it would ‘support lifesaving treatments and cures … for critically ill children.’
She was also included on a 2017 donor’s list recognizing contributions in excess of $1m.
But on June 26, 2019 Associate Senior Vice President Candie Davidson-Goldbronn wrote to the Aquaman actress asking to know why they had not received further installments.
Depp and Heard are due back in court for upcoming defamation case in Virginia
‘I am inquiring if you have knowledge if CHLA should expect further payment installment(s) on your behalf or if the pledge will not be fulfilled,’ she wrote. ‘I appreciate any insights on this matter.’
Heard’s attorney, Elaine Charlson Bredehoft, did not specify how much her client had given to either organization, saying only that she intended to fulfill the $7m pledge ‘eventually’.
She blamed Depp for the delay, saying Heard has been forced to spend millions defending herself against ‘false accusations’ made against her in the ongoing defamation case.
Friends say Depp is determined to fight on and won’t contemplate settling the upcoming Virginia case, which has been repeatedly pushed back because of the Coronavirus pandemic and won’t go before a jury until next year.
Heard’s legal team has asked the judge to toss the case, arguing Depp’s arguments were dismantled in the London proceedings.