How Johnny Depp Lost His Fortune

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Johnny Depp was on top of the world. From his television beginnings on 21 Jump Street to Edward Scissorhands (1990) to Donnie Brasco (1997) to becoming the face of Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise in 2003's Curse Of The Black Pearl, Rolling Stone estimated that Depp's films have grossed $3.6 billion at the box office, netting him a cool $650 million over time.

That $650 million is toast, and Depp's net worth is estimated to be $200 million — if that, considering his bank accounts were at one point "almost $4 million overdrawn" and his financial managers worried in January 2016 that he only "had 30 days of liquidity left." And that's without mentioning the $40 million debt that sparked the falling-out between the Black Mass star and his moneymen. Depp told Rolling Stone that his financial woes left him depressed: "I was as low as I believe I could have gotten" he confessed. "The next step was, 'You're going to arrive somewhere with your eyes open and you're going to leave with your eyes closed.' I couldn't take the pain every day."

There are a lot of potential factors behind Depp's squandered fortune. Here's how the blockbuster star busted his bankroll.

He accused his former managers of fraud

Johnny Depp blamed his former managers for mishandling his money in what ended up being a very high-profile lawsuit, which is incidentally why the world knows all about Depp's spending habits now.

In January 2017, the same day Depp finalized his divorce from Amber Heard, he sued The Management Group (TMG) for $25 million, alleging "fraud, negligent misrepresentation, wrongful foreclosure and a breach of fiduciary duty," E! News reported. In court documents, Depp claimed that he "lost tens of millions of dollars and has been forced to dispose of significant assets to pay for TMG's self-dealing and gross misconduct." Depp also claimed TMG had shady loans in place and that he was oblivious to what was happening until it was too late.

TMG denied the allegations, stating "they did everything possible to protect Depp from his irresponsible and profligate spending," and countersued Depp for alleged "breach of contract and promissory fraud," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The same publication reported in October 2017 that Depp also sued his former talent lawyer Jake Bloom for $30 million, alleging malpractice. Depp claimed that Bloom worked with TMG against his best interests; Deadline reported that a judge ruled that an oral contract Depp had with Bloom and his firm was invalid.

In July 2018, Depp and TMG reportedly settled their suit, though details of the settlement have been kept confidential. However, the lawsuit itself exposed much of Depp and his team's extravagant spending and allegedly irresponsible bookkeeping.

His sister had access to some of his money

Johnny Depp's sister, Christi Dembrowski, was very close to him, though they reportedly had a bit of a falling out after he wed Amber Heard without a prenup, Rolling Stone reported. However, Dembrowski still works for Depp, "running his production company, Infinitum Nihil," and it appears she received "$7 million in unaccounted money" from Depp's accounts. Dembrowski's "daughter's wedding, rent and mortgage payments" were all also reportedly paid for from Depp's pocket. 

However, it's important to note that Dembrowski isn't believed to have taken advantage of her brother: Insiders claimed to the magazine that Depp knew full well that Dembrowski was being paid from his own funds, and Depp himself didn't see her as doing anything wrong. Neither Depp nor The Management Group has implicated or accused Dembrowski of any wrongdoing in regards to Depp's money.

His other family members are accused of blowing a lot of his money

Johnny Depp told Rolling Stone that he bought a Lexington, K.Y. farm for his mother, Betty Sue, with one of his first big acting paychecks. He claimed that soon after he bought the property, another one of his sisters, her husband, and their son moved in, and he employed them to manage the farm.

Depp alleged that when one of the TMG managers informed him that the Kentucky leg of his family was spending exorbitantly, it had already been going on for years. He requested documentation of their spending, which ended up being "over 200 pages" of material.

"[My sister] was buying handbags for my mom, who was bedridden," Depp said. "Jewelry, f**king this, that, everything."

When Betty Sue was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Depp rented her a $30,000 per month Los Angeles home. When she reportedly recovered, Depp says he told TMG to cancel the lease so she could move back to Kentucky, but Depp claims they forgot to cancel it. TMG denied the claim, saying they renegotiated the lease as instructed.

Depp's other family members still live on the farm. He explained, "Their thinking is that I'm going to take care of them forever and that the farm is now theirs. I didn't make that promise." As for why Depp never kicked them out of the property, he told Rolling Stone incredulously, "That's why I'm paying [TMG]."

He had to pay Amber Heard $7 million in their divorce

Johnny Depp and longtime partner and baby mama Vanessa Paradis split after Depp starred with Amber Heard in The Rum Diary (2011). He and Heard tied the knot in 2015 in the Bahamas in a $1 million wedding, Rolling Stone reported, and without a prenuptial agreement in place. The pair went on to have a bitter divorce that lasted almost a year — and that cost Depp a cool $7 million settlement to Heard, which she donated to charity.

For someone as rich as Depp was, $7 million likely seems like a drop in the bucket, but keep in mind what their spending habits may have been like while the going was good: E! News reported that in one Heard's early divorce paperwork filings, she requested "$50,000 a month in spousal support ... "based on [their] marital lifestyle." Heard's documented spending indicated that she shelled out $43,700 every month on "healthcare, groceries, shopping, and $10,000 in rent, among other things". 

Considering Heard's own income was surprisingly low, chances are it was Depp's money they spent during their marriage: $50,000 per month over the course of the time they lived together (using a conservative estimate from their January 2014 engagement date to the their may 2016 separation, per Variety) amounts to at least $1.35 million in Heard's expenses alone. Pile on legal fees, and this relationship got very expensive.

He was still supporting Vanessa Paradis and their kids

Amber Heard wasn't the only ex to allegedly cost Johnny Depp a mint. When the actor split from longtime partner Vanessa Paradis in 2012 after 14 years and two children together, it was amicable, but not necessarily financially simple (or cheap). The Sun reported in June 2012 that Depp would likely pay Paradis a lump sum settlement in the $127 million range.

Attorney Robert Nachshin explained that if Depp and Paradis had been married, she'd have been entitled to 50 percent of his earnings from the duration of their marriage, plus child support and alimony. "However, because they are not married this does not apply. The partner would have to file a civil suit and go to court," he said. "Litigation is expensive, and could run into extremely high figures. This won't be a monthly payment plan — he will make a lump sum payment as a settlement."

No one knows for certain how much he spent on Paradis post-split, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, he did buy her "a $4.5 million home." Fortunately for Depp, The Daily Mail reported that Paradis married French director Samuel Benchetrit in June 2018, so he's likely off the hook for everything but child support — Depp and Paradis' two kids, Lily-Rose and Jack, are 19 and 16, respectively, as of this writing — in terms of payouts to the "Joe Le Taxi" singer.

His personal spending was out of control

Johnny Depp was reportedly often cash poor because he blew money on some really ridiculous things: Depending on who you ask, he either spent $3 million (his managers' claim in their lawsuit) or $5 million (his own claim to Rolling Stone) to fire the ashes of his late pal Hunter S. Thompson from a cannon.

Depp also reportedly owns about "70 guitars," "45 luxury vehicles," and some "200 pieces of art, including Basquiats and Warhols." However, Depp's attorney told People that the Basquiat pieces sold for a hefty profit, and that some of his real estate holdings have greatly appreciated in value. Even with that in mind, Depp's yacht, the Amphitrite, cost him $18 million ($10 million for the yacht itself, plus another $8 million on renovations), and maintaining the yacht cost $350,000 per month, per The Hollywood Reporter

Aside from his own indulgences, Depp was also a generous gifter, with People reporting he dropped "$400,000 on a diamond cuff" for Amber Heard while they were together, as well as $7,000 on a couch from Keeping Up With The Kardashians for his daughter Lily-Rose.

His vices were pricey

In their profile of Johnny Depp, Rolling Stone noted that the actor had a "stogie-sized joint" in his home, though, to be fair, it's never officially identified to be Depp's. (However, Depp is claimed to have smoked at least one joint during the interview.) He also reportedly had a "never-ending reservoir of wine," which he admitted was expensive: Though TMG claimed in their legal paperwork that Depp spent $30,000 on wine every month, the actor scoffed, "It's insulting to say that I spent $30,000 on wine, because it was far more." He added, "Wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it."

Those vices may have made him extra oblivious to how dire his financial straits were. A source told The Hollywood Reporter that it was difficult to get a hold of Depp leading up to the Management Group lawsuit.

"It became harder to find the right time to get him," the insider said. "In the old days, it was just [a question of] when he was free, but now it became [a matter of] finding a time when he was free and clear of mind and in the right mood. He got angry a lot. He'd scream at someone that worked at the house or his security."

His taxes were a mess

At least $6 million of Depp's fortune was allegedly squandered on Internal Revenue Service penalties and interest, The Wrap reported in February 2017. In court documents from Depp's legal battle with his management team, Depp's tax attorney — who'd been hired to help get him out of the Fed red — claimed he had an apparent history of dropping the ball at tax time, owing $5,704,581 in penalties and interest to the IRS from delinquencies from 2000 to 2014. More specifically, the documents claimed that the IRS told his tax attorney that Depp "reflected a history of untimely compliance with his federal tax payment obligations."

Depp reportedly also owed $336,162 in interest to the IRS for the 2015 fiscal year. That brings his tab with the IRS for that 15-year period to $6,040,743. Important Note: That isn't even what Depp owed in actual taxes — that was just interest and late penalties tacked on to the taxes themselves.

"I just had no clue," Depp told Rolling Stone of his tax issues. "If you're knowingly not paying the United States government taxes, somebody is gonna f**king catch up with you and hand you a bill and you'll probably go to the pokey."

He had a huge staff on his payroll

In addition to his family working on the Kentucky farm, Johnny Depp had a large payroll elsewhere that got very expensive. CNBC reported that TMG's lawsuit against Depp claimed he spent "$300,000 on staff, including 40 full-time employees." That doesn't include the $150,000 monthly tab on his family's security detail, or the $200,000 (yes, also per month) on private jet travel. Rolling Stone also reported that Depp "spent $1.2 million to keep a doctor on call."

In their legal filings during their courtroom battle with Depp, The Management Group alleged (via The Independent) that Depp also "spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to employ a full-time sound engineer, who Depp has used for years to feed him lines during film production ... Depp insisted that this sound engineer be kept on a yearly retainer so that he no longer had to memorize his lines."

Depp didn't deny that he employed a sound engineer, but says it wasn't to feed him lines from his scripts.

"I've got bagpipes, a baby crying and bombs going off. It creates a truth," Depp somewhat vaguely explained told Rolling Stone. "Some of my biggest heroes were in silent film. It had to be behind the eyes. And my feeling is, that if there's no truth behind the eyes, doesn't matter what the f**king words are."

He had way too much real estate

Johnny Depp really loved real estate, and it cost him big time. In addition to the Kentucky farm and $30,000 Los Angeles rental he kept for his mother, Depp also had 13 other residences of his own. The Hollywood Reporter estimated that Depp's five houses in the Hollywood Hills are worth about $19 million collectively (and Us Weekly reported he wanted to "build underground tunnels" connecting them).

Depp once had five penthouse lofts in downtown Los Angeles in the Eastern Columbia building. He sold two for $5.6 million, with his remaining three valued at approximately $6.5 million. Depp affectionately dubbed his private island in the Bahamas as "F**k Off Island," for which he paid an estimated $5.35 million. Depp also owns "a village-like compound" in France; while it's unclear how much he paid for it, he spent an additional $10 million on renovations for it, Variety reported. Rolling Stone reported that his team recommended he sell the French estate, but that a tearful phone call from his daughter, who grew up at the property, made him extremely reluctant to sell it.

All told, Depp's real estate cost him approximately $75 million in total.

He was embroiled in a lot of lawsuits

In addition to expenses related to Johnny Depp's divorce from Amber Heard, breakup with Vanessa Paradis, and The Management Group suits, Depp has other legal expenses. According to court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, TMG alleged that Depp had paid "an army of attorneys" to keep him out of trouble with "hush money settlements," though TMG never actually specified what those were.

In May 2018, People reported that two of Depp's former bodyguards sued the actor for "unpaid wages" and damages, alleging Depp placed them in unsafe situations, including driving "vehicles that contained illegal substances," and "open containers." 

In June 2018, Depp sued The Sun for defamation after the tabloid published an editorial criticizing J.K. Rowling over casting him in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald (2018) after Heard accused him of domestic violence. "Ultimately, there is real controversy," Depp told Entertainment Weekly. "The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I'm suing The Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations."

A month later, Depp was served with a lawsuit from a location manager on City Of Lies (2018), alleging that an inebriated Depp punched him several times on the set, TMZ reported. Depp's reps didn't comment on the allegations at the time, but the film's director, Brad Furman, told Page Six, "[Depp] always treats the crew and people around him with the utmost respect ... We all love stories — there isn't one here.

He wasn't paying enough attention to his finances

Johnny Depp told Rolling Stone that in an effort to truly inhabit the characters he played onscreen, he couldn't deal with any outside noise, so he simply hired and trusted others to handle mundane things like money for him.

"If there were things for me to sign that would come in — and there would be occasionally — I would sign them like this," Depp explained, motioning that he'd face the other direction from whatever form he scribbled on. "I don't want to f**king see what they are because I trust these people ... Now I look right at everything I sign."

A source close to Depp told the magazine that he'd isolated himself from those who looked out for him, which he echoed in a prior interview with The Wall Street Journal.

"If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it's my thing," Depp said, also adding, "I've worked very, very hard for a lot of years and trusted a lot of people, some who've clearly let me down."

His bankability may have taken a hit, but there's still hope

Some of the hits on Johnny Depp's pocket may stem from picking projects that didn't hit with audiences — remember The Lone Ranger (2013) and Mortdecai (2015)? But some of his issues with earning more money may be a combination of bad luck and his reputation preceding him.

In September 2018, City Of Lies (2018) was pulled from release, according The Hollywood Reporter, one month before it was slated to hit theaters.

In November 2018, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald (2018), part of the lucrative Harry Potter franchise, became the series' first box office disappointment. Screen Rant reported that it debuted with $62 million — still topping the box office for its opening weekend, but a pretty paltry sum for the wizarding series. It also scored 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the lowest for the franchise.

Depp also told British GQ that the damage to his reputation from Heard's allegations has likely affected his career as well, griping, "Essentially ... what is being done is the commencement of what they hope is to be your funeral ... and worse than that, to take away future earnings that are for my kids."

With four movies in production, as of this writing, and a book reportedly in the works, Depp still has potential to pull several decent paydays, and perhaps some much needed image rehab to potentially put him back on top — or at least back on his feet.