In his complaint filed Thursday in Los Angeles, Pitt accuses Jolie of secretly selling her half of the ex-couple’s controlling interest in their famous French winery, Château Miraval, to a company controlled by Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler, knowing full well “Shefler and his affiliates would seek to control the business to which Pitt had devoted himself.”
Pitt claims the purported sale last October not only violated their agreement that “they would never sell their respective interests in Miraval without the other’s consent” but also denied him his guaranteed right of first refusal, which he claims he would have exercised.
“Jolie long ago stopped contributing to Miraval — while Pitt poured money and sweat equity into the wine business, building it into the ascendant company it is today. Through the purported sale, Jolie seeks to seize profits she has not earned and returns on an investment she did not make,” the lawsuit states.
“Jolie’s breach, if allowed to stand, will deprive Pitt of his right to enjoy his private home — without sharing ownership with a stranger — and to secure his position in the business he built from scratch for the long-term benefit of his family,” the filing says, calling Shefler “an aggressive third-party competitor.”
The new lawsuit is seeking both damages and the unwinding of the sale to Shefler’s company.
Pitt, 58, and Jolie, 46, purchased Château Miraval, based in Correns, France, in 2008, parking their respective shares in the companies they started before they got married: Nouvel LLC in the case of Jolie and Mondo Bongo LLC for Pitt. The A-list couple started churning out their own rosé wine in 2012, to great success, and married in a chapel on the Côtes de Provence estate in August 2014.
“The vineyard became Pitt’s passion — and a profitable one, as Miraval, under Pitt’s stewardship, has grown into a multimillion dollar international success story and one of the world’s most highly regarded producers of rosé wine,” the new lawsuit states.
But then Jolie filed for divorce in 2016 after two years of marriage and 12 years together. And last summer, she claimed in court filings that she’d spent the prior few years trying to negotiate a working arrangement or “complete buyout” scenario with her ex — without success.
She claimed Pitt had signed off on “substantial expenditures” related to Miraval without her consent and that they couldn’t agree on “price and non-compete/non-disparagement arrangements” for a buyout.
She asked the court to release her from divorce-related restraining orders that were preventing her from signing an exclusivity agreement with an unidentified prospective buyer.
“[Jolie] does not want to jointly hold separate property assets with her ex-husband or be his unwilling and disregarded business partner,” her paperwork said.
In his lawsuit, Pitt claims that since Shefler assumed control of Jolie’s stake in Miraval late last year, he and his agents have disrupted the vineyard’s ability to “manage its affairs” and “sought to seize operational control of the wine business, contacting Miraval’s distributors to discuss contract terms, without authority and without Miraval’s knowledge or consent.”
Pitt further claims Shefler and his agents are “seeking to transfer Miraval’s intellectual property to Cyprus as part of an unsound and legally questionable tax strategy” and have “demanded that Château Miraval’s bank freeze its assets.”
Attempts to reach Jolie’s lawyer were not immediately successful Thursday.
The former spouses also are locked in an ongoing battle over the custody of their four remaining minor children.