Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Winery Trial, Explained

Try it for yourself.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic and Michel Gangne/AFP via Getty Images

On Feb. 17, 2022, Brad Pitt sued Angelina Jolie over their idyllic, once jointly owned vineyard in the south of France. They acquired a majority stake in this vineyard, Château Miraval, in 2008. The 1,200-acre estate is located “along an ancient Roman road and contains multiple 17th century structures”, according People. What was once a rosy side scuffle is now their latest in a series of legal disputes against each other since their 2016 divorce. The famous exes are locked in a battle for Jolie to sell her share of the property without the Pitt’s endorsement. In Pitt’s civil suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, he claims they had previously agreed not to sell their shares without obtaining each other’s approval to do so.

The lawsuit has since evolved from an acrimonious trade dispute into something of an international smear contest. Pitt claims that Jolie, a renowned human rights activist, turned over her shares to an alleged Russian oligarch named Yuri Shefler in an invalid transaction. Pitt insists the alleged transaction hurts the brand after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Now, Jolie is somehow responding to her ex’s salty suit. His former company filed a $250 million counterclaim alleging Pitt wanted to take control of their business as a reward for their split and child custody fight and linked his out-of-control behavior to his drinking habits. ‘alcohol.

Here, what you need to know about the legal drama surrounding the most chaotic castle in France.

What’s wrong with this vineyard?
Pitt claims that he and Jolie bought a majority stake in a company called Château Miraval, SA in 2008. This company consisted of a “house and a vineyard in the south of France”. Although it was a business, Miraval seemed to have sentimental value for the actor. “Pitt and Jolie bought the chateau as a home to share with their children and the vineyard as a family business,” his lawsuit said. “They agreed that they would never sell their respective interests in Miraval without the consent of the other. The couple spent the holidays at Miraval with their children. Pitt and Jolie even got married there in 2014. Pitt claims he ended up being much more involved with Miraval than Jolie. “Vineyard became Pitt’s passion – and a profitable business, as Miraval, under Pitt’s leadership, grew into a multi-million dollar global business and one of the world’s most highly regarded rose wine producers,” indicates the trial. Pitt argues that “Jolie, meanwhile, contributed nothing to Miraval’s success”. Instead, Jolie let Pitt “pour money and sweat equity into the business relying on the right of consent she owed him and a right of first refusal that her business entity owed to the his”. When Jolie sold her shares to Shefler, she conducted these “illegal” transactions in secret, Pitt claims, forcing him into a corner. Not only is Shefler’s reputation tainted by his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he’s also trying to oust Pitt by engaging in business tactics that would destabilize the winery, according to the actor. Pitt also alleges that Shefler “made various threats” against him, according to court documents.

So Pitt feels like he’s done all the work, but they’re separated now – why does he care if she sells her stock?
Pitt maintains that they both agreed not to sell their respective holdings without the other’s consent. When Jolie unloaded her share of Miraval last October, she ignored that deal, Pitt claims. Additionally, Jolie sold her stake in Miraval to Tenute del Mondo, a company with allegedly questionable ties, Pitt claims. Its lawsuit describes Tenute del Mondo as a “hostile third-party competitor” bent on taking control of Miraval. “The alleged sale violates the agreement between Jolie and Pitt that formed the basis of the couple’s investment in Miraval. The alleged sale violates the contractual expectations of Pitt and Jolie, and the entities they own, established over the 14 years have passed since they purchased Miraval,” his lawsuit claims. “The alleged sale deprives Pitt of his right to enjoy the home he established for his family and to oversee the business he grew in from scratch.” Remember, though: Pitt argues that the sale is invalid, hence his phrasing of the transaction as “alleged.”

Then there is the discourse on Russia. Tenute del Mondo “is indirectly owned and controlled by Yuri Shefler – the Russian billionaire who controls the Stoli Group and whose flagship Russian vodka, Stolichnaya, has been the subject of boycotts around the world,” Pitt’s lawsuit says. “The U.S. Treasury Department designated Shefler as “Oligarch of the Russian Federation”. Jolie allegedly “pursued and then concluded the alleged sale in secret, deliberately keeping Pitt in the dark and knowingly violating Pitt’s contractual rights.” In doing so, Jolie “sought to capture the profits she had not earned and the returns on an investment she had not made. [and] also through the alleged sale, Jolie sought to harm Pitt,” her lawsuit alleges.

Why can’t Pitt and the reported oligarch get along?
Pitt claims that after Shefler claimed to secure Jolie’s stake in Miraval, he “launched a hostile takeover of the wine business, destabilizing Miraval’s operations and seeking access to Miraval’s confidential and proprietary information for the benefit of its competing company”. Meanwhile, “Miraval’s association with Shefler – which has gained notoriety through cutthroat business tactics and questionable professional associations – jeopardizes the reputation of the Pitt brand so carefully constructed,” Pitt alleges. He claims that Jolie “sought to force Pitt to associate with an outsider, and even worse, an outsider with toxic associations and intentions.”

Pitt’s lawsuit alleges that Shefler and one of his associates “repeatedly threatened punitive action” against him and the company via text messages. According to Pitt’s lawsuit, Shefler and company have long wanted to get into the winery and “seized the news of Pitt and Jolie’s divorce in September 2016 to make an offer on the property.” Pitt says the company, with Shefler’s backing, officially offered 60 million euros for Château Miraval and “also offered a bizarre sweetener for Pitt: a 50 million euro private jet on ‘very attractive terms’ “. Shefler reportedly expressed interest in Miraval again in May 2021. Company officials from Shefler and Miraval had a meeting. “As a result of this meeting, Pitt confirmed that he had no interest in entering into an agreement with Shefler,” his lawsuit states. Pitt argues that if Jolie had ever asked him if he would agree to his deal with Shefler, he would have said no.

Is this lawsuit about the Pitt-Jolie divorce?
Somewhat. Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt on September 19, 2016. Pitt claims she hasn’t gone back to the winery since filing for divorce and “didn’t do anything to spur the growth of her business. “. Pitt and Jolie talked about a possible buyout a few years after filing for divorce, but in January 2021, Jolie reportedly told Pitt in writing that she had made a “painful, heavy-hearted decision.”

Jolie reportedly said she bought Miraval “as a family business” where they would “age.” However, Jolie said that “she could no longer hold a position of ownership in an alcohol-based business given her personal objections.” Jolie said their buyout talks were “out of order.” Pitt said Jolie actually had “another buyer waiting in the wings.” On October 5, 2021, Pitt discovered that Jolie had unloaded her shares when Tenute del Mondo issued a press release saying she had purchased her stake. Pitt argues that the “alleged sale” was not legal and is asking for a “rescission” to acknowledge that the agreement is invalid and cannot stand.

Nothing else?
Yes, and it’s even dirtier than before. On Tuesday, September 6, 2022, the New York Job reported new allegations against Pitt in connection with the ongoing winery litigation. Nouvel, Jolie’s former investment company for the winery, claimed in a crossover lawsuit that Pitt tried to take control of the winery as revenge for their split. These documents dive deep into their marital woes. Although things went well for the winery after the couple purchased it in 2008, “all was not well,” the crossover claims: “Pitt developed a publicly recognized alcohol abuse problem In 2016, after a serious and internationally publicized incident between Pitt, Jolie and the couple’s children, Jolie filed for divorce.Documents say Pitt’s alleged efforts to gain control of Miraval were “in retaliation to the divorce and custody battle.
Court documents allege Pitt’s alleged drinking problem led to increasingly inappropriate behavior towards Jolie and their children, then provide details of the now-notorious robbery, where Pitt allegedly pushed Jolie, punched the ceiling of the plane and “refused to let the family off the plane for 20 minutes,” shouting, “You’re not taking my fucking kids. These allegations come weeks after a FBI sealed report about the flight, obtained by NBC News and several other outlets, has surfaced. The FBI and Los Angeles child protection authorities have closed an investigation into allegations of physical abuse related to Pitt and his children during that flight. Pitt did not face criminal charges, according to reports. While Jolie and Pitt were deemed legally single in 2018, their custody battles continue, NBC News said.

So that’s it?
Nope! The new court documents also hit back at Pitt’s allegation that Shefler – the owner of the Stoli Group – has ties to Putin. “In reality, since Mr. Shefler rebuilt Stoli from the ashes of his Soviet predecessor into a profitable business, he has been in open conflict with Putin and Russia. Stoli has been locked in a decades-long dispute with the Putin regime over control of Stolichnaya vodka brands,” court documents say. “Shefler and Stoli have repeatedly and publicly denounced Putin’s regime and its reprehensible invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s people once even tried to kidnap Shefler.

Elisha A. Tilghman