Brad Pitt sues Angelina Jolie over sale of French vineyard where they married

Brad Pitt (left) is said to have contributed 60 per cent towards buying the vineyard, and Angelina Jolie the remaining 40 per cent. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Brad Pitt is suing Angelina Jolie for selling her share of the French vineyard where they got married.

Superstars Pitt and Jolie, who were once Hollywood's highest profile couple, bought a controlling stake of Chateau Miraval in southern France in 2008, and tied the knot there six years later.

But they filed to dissolve their marriage in 2016 and have remained locked in court battles since, including over custody rights for their six children.

According to a lawsuit filed by Pitt in California on Thursday (Feb 17), the couple had "agreed they would never sell their respective interests in Miraval without the other's consent."

But last October, Jolie sold her stake to a "a Luxembourg-based spirits manufacturer controlled by Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler," the legal document obtained by AFP says.

Pitt's filing alleges that Jolie broke the terms of their original agreement by not offering him first refusal for her share, and that she is seeking to "recover unearned windfall profits for herself while inflicting gratuitous harm on Pitt."

"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," it states.

Pitt's lawsuit requests a trial by jury.

It describes the vineyard as a "small, unprofitable wine business" that was "in need of renovation" prior to the couple's purchase in 2008.

The pair paid "approximately 25 million euros," with Pitt contributing 60 per cent and Jolie the remaining 40 per cent.

But Pitt went on to pay for renovations "in a manner far disproportionate to his relative ownership share" on the understanding Jolie would not pull out of the investment without his consent, the suit says.

Pitt brought in Marc Perrin, one of France's top winemakers, to help transform the business into a leading rose wine producer, but "Jolie had no involvement in these efforts," it continues.

Revenues reportedly grew from approximately US$3 million in 2013 to more than US$50 million (S$67 million) last year.

Jolie's representatives did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

The A-listers first became a couple after co-starring as married assassins in 2004 film Mr And Mrs Smith. Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time.

Pitt, now 58, was accused of striking one of his children during a flight from France to Los Angeles shortly before Jolie filed for divorce, but was later cleared by the FBI and social workers.

The pair announced in 2018 they had reached an amicable settlement over the children - three biological and three adopted.

But last July, Jolie scored a win in their custody battle as the private judge overseeing their divorce and custody matters was disqualified from the case.

Judge John Ouderkirk - who had also officiated their wedding at the vineyard - was found to have financially benefited from separate work with Pitt's attorneys, and disqualified from the case by a California appeals court.

The ruling means the custody case essentially had to be restarted before a new judge.

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