Somewhere in the world right now a financial management firm is counter-suing their client with the help of tabloids and a lucrative stereotype; it’s probably (not) because of Johnny Depp’s uncontrollable downward spiral into self-destruction since his divorce with Amber Heard.
Before Depp’s trouble with TMG, Nicolas Cage was accused of being too financially irresponsible to understand when his managers were misusing funds, as was Rihanna in 2012. But headlines about Depp’s $25M lawsuit against The Management Group have disappeared and been replaced with details of a distraction suit. Celebrity tabloids seem to think divorce is the true reason behind “Johnny Debt’s” debut but several other headlines describe the counter-claim (for a comparably pewny amount) that alleges his spending habits are to blame.
But according to U.S. federal law, filing a counter claim doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with the original case. If someone files a lawsuit on the grounds that funds were mismanaged, the defendant can counter with an unrelated claim that their opponent is irresponsible because they once spent $3M on a funeral, or because the original claimant spends a lot on wine. TMG released exactly those claims to distract from the case that Depp filed against them.
Jezebel published a list of Depp’s monthly expenses, mixed in with some one-time expenses like fulfilling Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral wishes in 2005, in an attempt to prove that the successful celebrity actor spends so much money, he wouldn’t listen if his financial management team told him he was going broke. The same was said about Nicholas Cage in 2012, and Rihanna’s claim of financial mismanagement with Berdon LLP was met with a counter claim that her tour lost money because of her own spending. Still, they offered Rihanna more than $110M to settle the case out of court. All the while, tabloids tell the world that these celebrities and their very messy, very public personal lives are falling apart in the most lavish waves of self-destruction.
Celebrity news shows Johnny’s life falling apart, starting with his short marriage and recent divorce from Amber Heard, as though both cases are part of a totally predictable and totally epic fall to the bottom. So, when TMG came out with their counter-suit detailing Depp’s expenses, Page Six quickly published “Johnny Depp is so broke he had to fire his agent” with a ‘related video’ showing a slideshow called The Downfall of Johnny Depp which chronicles some of his less successful films and the divorce from Amber Heard.
The only connection between Johnny Depp’s divorce and his lawsuit against TMG is that the divorce was finalized the same month the fraud lawsuit was filed.
Another indisputable connection is the link between shitty contracts and dramatic lawsuits. Johnny gave his management team permissions comparable to that of a trustee (someone who can spend money without the owner’s signature) and accepted contingency fees based on an oral contract. Nicolas Cage also had an oral contract with the adviser he later sued.
The culprit of financial ruin for these top celebrities isn’t necessarily drugs, divorce, or abuse. In Rihanna’s case, her accountant was taking commission straight from ticket sales. To the shock and awe of tabloid fans, her near-bankruptcy had nothing to do with Chris Brown. From Johnny Depp to Rihanna, a bad contract is just a bad contract.