The Chicago link to Johnny Depp's Hollywood lawsuit: A hedge fund, mayor's brother
Embattled actor Johnny Depp, engrossed in a multi-million dollar legal battle with his former business managers, is seeking records from a Chicago-area hedge fund, including any communications relating to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Hollywood mogul brother.
The "Pirates of the Caribbean” star and his new business manager in January filed a $25 million lawsuit against The Management Group, the Beverly-Hills-based company founded by brothers Joel and Rob Mandel, alleging it defrauded Depp out of millions over 17 years.
A few weeks later, the Mandels counter-sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid management fees, alleging that Depp had ignored repeated warnings about his finances and continued spending $2 million-a-month, including $200,000 a month for private flights and a $30,000 monthly wine bill.
In court papers filed in Cook County Circuit Court this week, Depp’s lawyers subpoenaed records from Lionheart, L.P. — a Wilmette-based hedge fund. SEC filings list the Mandel brothers as directors of the company.
Lionheart allegedly received over $2 million from a trust held by the actor “despite the fact that (the Mandels) possessed direct ownership interests” in the company, Depp's attorneys said in a separate legal filing. The filing alleged TMG had their client invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in at least three other companies owned by TMG employees.
In court papers, the Mandels have said TMG and Depp jointly invested in Lionheart and that the actor cashed out at a profit in 2008.
The subpoenas from Depp’s attorneys, filed Wednesday, also seek any communications the hedge fund, its directors or TMG had that “relate to” Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood mogul who runs the talent agency WME-IMG.
Court filings here do not explain why Depp’s attorneys want those records, but last summer Vanity Fair quoted Ari Emanuel as saying the Mandels are “true, honest, loyal brokers” who he’d trusted with his own finances.
Katrina Dela Cruz, one of Depp’s attorneys, declined to comment Wednesday on the subpoenas.
Representatives for Lionheart and Ari Emanuel couldn’t be reached for comment.
Several federal agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have launched probes of TMG, according to the Los Angeles Times. One of the probes, which is being led by the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department, is examining the possibility that the company engaged in fraud and money laundering, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
The dueling lawsuits don’t completely explain why Depp, who has earned hundreds of millions of dollars during his career, is in such financial jeopardy. Depp reportedly paid $7 million in his divorce earlier this year from actress Amber Heard.
But court papers filed by TMG allege Depp spent $75 million on some 14 homes, including a French chateau and a chain of islands in the Bahamas. He also put together a large art collection with works by Basquiat and Andy Warhol.
Depp, who starred in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” also spent more than $3 million blasting the ashes of his friend gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson from a 15-story canon outside Thompson's Aspen, Colorado home in 2005.
TMG took a 5 percent cut of Depp's earnings and the actor gave $10 million to his family and friends, the filing alleges. He provided over $400,000 to his close friend, the actor James Russo, to help Russo keep his home. He also gave over $260,000 to his friend Jonathan Shaw, a self-described “outlaw artist” and son of jazz icon Artie Shaw, who needed help after being arrested on charges of possessing an AK-47 assault rifle and three other guns along with 96 knives and more than 2,800 rounds of ammunition.
A date for the trial, which will take place in California, has tentatively been set for Aug. firstname.lastname@example.org