Ever since their divorce, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s winery has been at the center of a dispute between the exes—and now, the future of the company remains even more uncertain.
According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Brad is now suing Angelina for allegedly selling her interest in their French estate and winery, Château Miraval, to Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler without his permission. Brad claims that both parties previously agreed they would not sell off their shares of the Château—which also happens to be where they tied the knot in 2014—without the other party’s express consent. But according to Brad’s suit, the Maleficent actress went behind his back to sell her interest in 2021. “Jolie consummated the purported sale without Pitt’s knowledge, denying Pitt the consent right she owed him and the right of first refusal her business entity owed his,” the court documents read.
While Angelina paid for 40 percent of the winery’s $28.4 million acquisition price, Brad maintains that he was responsible for the success of their French vineyard and its affiliated company, Nouvel LLC. He claims he put in a significant amount of time and money into the company, and that his ex had little to do with it at all. Now, Brad believes this sale will negatively impact his own ability to profit from the winery. According to his suit, Angelina sold her interest “with the knowledge and intention that Shefler and his affiliates would seek to control the business to which Pitt had devoted himself and to undermine Pitt’s investment in Miraval.”
In July 2021, Angelina told a judge that she had reached an agreement to sell her interest in the company to an unnamed party. Brad agreed to consider the sale in September 2021, so long as there was a “mutual understanding” would have the right to refuse the sale if he didn’t approve of the purchaser. The following month, however, Brad found out that Tenute del Mondo—a subsidiary of a company owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler—had secretly purchased her interest in the company. Now, Brad says Shefler’s control over the winery is preventing him from running the company that he helped to build, with the court documents noting, “the purported sale deprives Pitt of his right to enjoy his private home and to oversee the business he developed from scratch.”
According to a source who spoke to Us Weekly, Angelina has “violated” Brad with this sale. “Unfortunately, this is another example of the same person disregarding her legal and ethical obligations,” the insider told the site on February 18, 2022. “In doing so, she has violated the rights of the only person who poured money and sweat equity into the success of the business by purporting to sell both the business and family home to a third-party competitor. She is seeking a return on an investment she did not make and profits she did not earn.”
Brad and Angelina, who divorced in 2016 after 11 years together, have also made headlines in recent months due to an ongoing legal battle over the custody of their six children: Maddox, 20, Pax, 18, Zahara, 17, Shiloh, 15, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 13. In May 2021, a judge ruled in Brad’s favor to share custody with Angelina. However, the decision went back to court in July 2021 after the judge overseeing the case, Judge John W. Ouderkirk, was removed due to his past professional relationships with Brad.
At the time, Angelina’s lawyers alleged that “Judge Ouderkirk denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial, improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case,” according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. The court filing also claims that the judge “refused to hear the minor teenagers’ input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes as to their custody fate.” In California state, minors over 14 are permitted to testify in custody cases if the judge allows, which meant that Pax, Zahara and Shiloh were all eligible to testify at the time.
As it turns out, however, Maddox was the only one of Brad and Angie’s children who was given the chance to testify by the judge presiding over the case. A source told People in May that testimonies came from “witnesses, experts, people who have been with the kids,” instead, noting that the rest of the “children’s voices were heard, but they just didn’t testify themselves.”
Maddox, for his part, did not give a “very flattering” testimony towards his father, according to a source who spoke to Us Weekly in March 2021. The source also claimed at the time that the couple’s eldest son wants to drop his father’s last name. “He doesn’t use Pitt as his last name on documents that aren’t legal and instead uses Jolie,” the source explained.