When you are living as one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, you probably think that the millions you have accumulated over the decades will last forever. Well, that is usually not the case, and the high life and various commodities can drain the sources over time. This is precisely what happened to Johnny Depp, who in 2016 learned that his $650 million were gone. But where did they go?
Who is Johnny Depp?
Johnny Depp is an actor, producer, and musician perhaps best known to the public for his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the film series “Pirates of the Caribbean.” During his nearly four-decades-long career, he has received various accolades such as Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, two BAFTA Awards, and nominations for three Academy Awards.
He was born on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky, to Betty Sue Palmer, a waitress, and civil engineer, John Christopher Depp. Johnny was raised alongside three older siblings, and during his childhood, his family often moved from place to place, eventually settling in Miramar, Florida, in 1970. From a young age, he aspired to become a musician, and after his mother gifted him a guitar, he began exploring that career path even more, playing in various bands and pubs. In 1979 at 16, he dropped out of Miramar High School to become a rock star. However, he instead became one of the best actors.
Road to Success
With the help of Nicholas Cage, in 1984, Johnny made his debut in the Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” portraying the main character’s boyfriend, Glen Lantz.
In 1990, he began one of his most famous collaborations with the esteemed producer and director Tim Burton after being cast as the titular character in the fantasy romance movie “Edward Scissor Hands” alongside Winona Ryder. The film was a huge commercial and critical success setting Johnny on his arrow-straight path to stardom, while his performance earned him his first Golden Globe Award. His next significant role came in 1993 when he played the main character, Gilbert Grape, in the coming-of-age drama “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
What's eating Gilbert grape Directed by Lasse Hallström
Throughout the rest of the decade, he appeared in several successful movies, including “Ed Wood” (1994), “Don Juan DeMarco” (1995), and “The Ninth Gate” (1999).
In 2003 he scooped his most famous role, Captain Jack Sparrow, in the first installment of the Disney franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean,” receiving nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. He would go on to star in the five installments.
Now a household name, Johnny, continued his streak of successes in the new millennium, starring in several popular and critically acclaimed Tim Burton movies such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007).
After nearly two decades of undeniable hit movies, by 2012, Johnny was considered one of the greatest stars of Hollywood, becoming the highest-paid actor -$75 million per role. However, during the same year, he played the main role in Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows,” which was a commercial and critical flop, putting Johnny’s acting appeal in question. Seemingly falling off the Hollywood bandwagon, Johnny starred in several unsuccessful movies, such as “Transcendence” (2014), “Mordecai” (2015), and “Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass” (2016). In contrast, he also has some moderately successful roles in the “Black Mass” (2015) and “Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them.” However, in 2016 his then-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic violence and sought a temporary restraining order, followed by a row of paparazzi. After these accusations, Johnny’s image and reputation became tarnished, damaging his career and credibility. Subsequently, he began losing roles, becoming unemployable, and additionally, Disney cut off ties with the problematic actor.
12 years ago Alice in Wonderland came out and we saw Johnny Depp’s iconic Mad Hatter for the first time pic.twitter.com/lGF568MhJ3
— Marta 🍃🌾🌿🪴 (@DlORDEPP) March 6, 2022
How he lost his millions?
In 2016 he announced that his $650 million simply vanished and sued The Media Group (TMG) for $25 million, alleging that they committed ‘fraud, negligent misrepresentations, wrongful closure and a breach of fiduciary duty.’ Furthermore, he claimed that the company’s mismanagement of his assets caused him to lose millions, forcing him to sell millions-of worth of possession to make up for their dishonesty. Johnny also filed a lawsuit against his talent layer Jake Bloom for malpractice, disclosing that Jake was a part of a ruse with TMG and worked against his interest for financial gain.
TMG denied all of these allegations and launched a counter-suit against the actor, accusing him of living ‘an extravagant life that he could not afford. The lawsuit was settled in 2018, although most details and information of the settlement remained unavailable to the public. Regardless, the case brought many of Johnny’s personal and family issues to the surface, informing the people of his reckless spending habits, including massive amounts of alcohol and drugs.
Johnny, known as a very generous man, bought his mother a farm after securing one of his first roles, and he later disclosed that soon after, one of his sisters, her husband, and their child moved in with his mother at the farm. So naturally, he tasked the family with managing the farm. However, this would later turn out to be a massive mistake for Johnny. His Kentucky family living at the farm assumed a high life at the cost of Johnny’s money, which they claimed went to Johnny’s mother. By the time TMG alerted Johnny of his family’s extravagant spending, it had been going on for years at the time. After asking for proof, TMG provided him with a 200-page document; Johnny said: ‘My sister was buying handbags for my mom, who was bedridden. Jewelry, fu*king this, that, everything.’
When his mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, he began renting a house in Los Angeles for her to use, costing $30,000 per month. However, Johnny claimed that after his mother’s health improved, he told the company to cancel the lease, which they did not do, resulting in a significant accumulation of rent money. TMG denied these accusations again and said they renegotiated the lease as instructed. Interestingly, his sister’s family has been living at the farm after Betty Sue died; Johnny disclosed: ‘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.’
Marriage to Amber Heard
After falling in love with the actress Amber Heard, whom he met on the set for “The Rum Diary,” Johnny broke off his long-term relationship with Vanessa Paradis. Johnny and Amber began dating in 2012 and tied the knot in 2015 in a very lavish $1million worth wedding in the Bahamas. However, the bliss did not last long, and in the following year, Amber filed for divorce, after which she received $7 million, pledging it to charity. She also demanded $50,000 a month for spousal support to accommodate her new lifestyle. Although $7 million does not seem like a considerable sum for a multi-millionaire such as Johnny, it is believed that during the marriage, he supported her and her friends, paying for various expenses and gifts and even providing living space for them. Furthermore, at the time, Amber was not a prominent actress, and her income was low so, it is safe to assume that Johnny covered all the living expenses and later, a ton of legal fees.
Since launching his career, Johnny has developed various ill habits, including compulsive spending, which contributed to his financial losses. As an avid musician and art lover, he spent thousands of dollars on unique and rare guitars and allegedly bought over 200 pieces of art, including Warhol’s. In addition, Johnny treated himself with various expensive cars and vehicles; he bought an 18 million yacht and maintaining it cost over 350,000 a month. Besides his material indulgences, he showed his generosity toward his family, friends, and employees, often gifting precious items; those include a 400,000 diamond cuff for Amber and a $7,000 couch from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” for his daughter Lily-Rose. Probably one of his weirdest purchases includes specially-made cannon worth $3 million to blast the ashes of the author Hunter S. Thompson over Aspen, Colo.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Johnny has struggled with alcoholism and addiction for most of his life and has always been open and candid about it. However, over the years, he developed a taste for costly wines, which he allegedly drank from dusk ’till dawn. According to reports TMG delivered to the court, Johnny spent over $30,000 per month on wine. He once disclosed: ‘I investigated wine and spirits thoroughly and they certainly investigated me as well, and we found out that we got along beautifully, but maybe too well.’ Johnny later even said that he spent more than TMB reported and that ‘wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you get it.’
His drug abuse was well known as Johnny indulged in an array of illegal substances, including cocaine, mushrooms, and MDMA. During his defamation trial in 2022, his ex-wife Amber claimed that he often used drugs and was high most of the time. In her testimony, she disclosed that he had a jar of cocaine. In a 2018 Rolling Stone interview, the reporter claimed that the actor used hashish in his presence, and there was a huge rolled joint in the ashtray. However, that was not the only issue Johnny had. After years of constant consumption, he became tough to work with and would have these mood swings. According to various reports, he often arrived late at the set or even showed up under the influence, which did not portray him in good light regardless of his stellar career. A source revealed that it was tough to get a hold of him: ‘It became harder to get the right time to get him. Previously, it was just the question of whether 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.’
If Johnny’s spending money on drugs which are not cheap, the same way he spent it on art and wine, no wonder he went through it quickly.
Taxes and Staff
According to the court documents from Johnny’s legal battle with TMG, his tax lawyer, Mirriam Fisher, disclosed that Johnny often failed to pay taxes. As she dealt with the issues, she learned from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that Johnny’s accounts ‘reflected a history of untimely compliance with his federal tax payment obligations.’
From 2000 to 2014, Johnny managed to rack up nearly 6 million in penalties and interests for late payments. In addition, a review of his tax situation for 2015 showed that he owed the IRS another 300,000 in interest. Keep in mind that these debts only included interest and late penalties tacked on the taxes, not what he owned in actual taxes, which was probably a jaw-dropping sum. Johnny said to the Rolling Stone: ‘I just had no clue. If you’re knowingly not paying the US government taxes, somebody is gonna fuc*ing catch up with you and hand you a bill.’
Besides his family living off his back, it seemed that Johnny had issues managing his staff, as he hired over 40 full-time staff members. In addition, he paid a monthly tab of 150,000 for his family’s security detail and $200,000 a month for a private jet. His extravagance did not stop there- Johnny allegedly paid $1 million to have a doctor on the call for emergencies. TMG made numerous other claims against the actor, including that he refused to memorize his lines, so he hired a full-time engineer to feed him his dialogue, which cost thousands of dollars. In his interview, Johnny admitted to hiring the engineer but claimed it had nothing with him not wanting to learn the text.
Real Estate and Lawsuits
His compulsive spending also extended to real estate. In addition to the farm he bought for his mother, he acquired 13 other residences, including the five houses in Hollywood Hills, which reportedly cost over $19 million. If you caught up with his recent defamation trial, you must have heard of his five penthouses in Los Angeles, where he lived with Amber. The actor sold two penthouses, and the remaining three are reportedly worth over $6 million. Also, Johnny is one of the rare individuals who owns a private island that he dubbed “Fu*k Off Island,” worth over 5 million. On top of all these lavish residences, Johnny owns an enormous estate in France. It is unclear how much he paid for it, but it is known that he spent over $10 million on restoration. In total, his real estate cost him over $75 million.
Numerous lawsuits he encountered over the years were another massive drain on his finances. Starting with his break-up with Vanessa Paradis, his divorce from Amber, and his lawsuit against TMG, it is estimated that the actor paid millions in legal fees. In addition, TMG disclosed that Johnny employed an army of lawyers who would quietly settle his lawsuits and keep him out of trouble.
In 2018, two of his employees sued Johnny for unpaid labor, claiming that the actor put them in unsafe situations, such as transporting illegal substances. During the same year, the UK media outlet, the Sun, called the actor ‘a wife beater’ in one of their articles, prompting Johnny to sue the outlet for defamation. Furthermore, the same media outlet criticized J.K. Rowling for casting ‘an abuser’ in her popular franchise “The Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them.” A month later, Johnny was sued by the location manager of the “City of Lies,” who accused the actor of hitting him while intoxicated on the set. Depp refused to give any statements, but the movie’s director commented on the situation and said: ‘Depp always treats the crew and people around him with the utmost respect. We all love stories-there is not one here.’
Being one of the most popular and wealthiest actors can be a burden when you have irrational spending habits and an army of greedy family members and employers, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. The insane story of his lost millions proves that continuous recklessness can sweep even the seemingly unspendable fortunes.