Johnny Depp tells high court libel case how he lost $650m in earnings

Ben Quinn
·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Johnny Depp has told the high court that he lost every cent of $650m (£515m) he made at the height of his Pirates of the Caribbean fame and was left owing $100m in tax on account of business managers he accused of stealing from him.

On his final day of evidence in his libel case against the Sun, the actor denied he had been violent towards his former wife Amber Heard.

The court heard more about the backdrop to one alleged incident in which Depp turned up late to Heard’s 30th birthday party in 2016 after receiving bad news at a meeting about his finances and when he is alleged by her to have later thrown a magnum of champagne at her and pulled her hair.

Under examination from his barrister, Depp told the court: “I was in the early stages of learning from my recently acquired new business manager that the former business managers had taken quite a lot of my money. They stole my money.”

Pressed to say how much money was allegedly taken, he replied: “It was put to me this way, because I had no idea about money or amounts of money.

“Since Pirates [of the Caribbean] 2 and 3, I had – and this is ludicrous to have to state, it’s quite embarrassing – apparently I had made $650m and when I sacked them, for the right reasons, I had not only lost $650m, but I was $100m in the hole because they [the previous business managers] had not paid the government my taxes for 17 years.”

Depp is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an article that called the actor a “wife beater” and referred to “overwhelming evidence” that he had attacked Heard.

At another stage in the evidence, Depp simulated the act of punching in order to demonstrate what a “haymaker” was. The term had been used by him during what he had regarded as a “secret recording” during a meeting with Heard in San Francisco in July 2016, when he could be heard to say “you fucking haymakered me, man”.

During an examination, Depp’s barrister, David Sherborne, barrister asked what a haymaker was, to which he replied: “It’s just a type of wild swinging … kind of a roundhouse punch, as it were. It’s a bit of a wild swing, but effective if it reaches the target.”

The court was also shown a photo of the actor passed out and covered in ice cream, which the court was told that Heard had shown her then husband in 2014 to “show how pathetic” he had become.

It came up as Sherborne reminded his client that Heard had said she would take photographs to be able to show Depp what he had done because he would not remember the next day.

Asked if he had seen the photos in the past, Depp said there was one his ex-wife had shown him, which was of him on the flight from Boston, at a time when he had been working 17-hour days, and that he had already agreed he was going to go to the Bahamas to detox after that.

He added: “I was obviously on the nod and very tired, falling asleep, and the ice cream then spilled all over my leg and then she took that ... and showed me the next day and said, ‘Look at what you’ve become ... look at you, it’s pathetic.’”

Earlier in the morning, the court was told that he could not, as alleged by Heard, have grabbed her by the hair with one hand and hit her “repeatedly in the head with the other” because he was wearing a cast on his finger after an earlier incident in 2015 when he lost the top of his middle finger in Australia.

The case also heard evidence from Depp’s former personal assistant Stephen Deuters, who has alleged in a witness statement that Heard, 34, subjected Depp to “years of abuse”. Deuters, who worked as a PA to the actor for 16 years and went on to hold the role of European president of his production company, also said in the statement that he was “extremely surprised and outraged” when it became public that she had filed for a temporary restraining order against the Hollywood star.

Deuters, was asked by Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, about a private plane flight from Boston in May 2014, when Heard alleges that Depp threw objects at her, slapped her and kicked her in the back before passing out in the toilet.

Deuters said he recalled a foot being raised, adding “it was quite a feat for anyone really” on account of the tight layout of the aircraft’s furniture.

Deuters, who has said in a statement that Depp had sought to “playfully tap her on the bottom with his foot”, told the court he had a clear view of the incident and Heard was “very upset”.

When it was put to him that he and other assistants, as Heard alleges, “did nothing” to help her on the flight, Deuters said: “I remember that we got up from the seats in order to intervene. It had clearly reached the point where we wanted to help or stop or intervene.”

He could not recall Depp being violent towards Heard during the flight, one of 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence NGN is presenting in its defence against the actor’s libel claim. Depp denies all the allegations.

Under questioning from Wass, Deuters admitted to having been involved “on the rare occasion” in the facilitation of illegal drugs for Depp during his period as PA.

Deuters, who agreed he was regarded “almost as family” by the actor and was financially dependent on him, denied he had done so in California and Australia but said he had been involved in “passing on” drugs to the actor in the UK.