Brad Pitt launched a scathing attack on Russian oligarch Yuri Shefler as he attempts to fight the tycoon’s purchase of Angelina Jolie’s half of the couple’s Chateau Miravel winery.
Pitt, 60, is reportedly close to finalizing his divorce from Jolie, 48, despite the pair being separated for years. In 2021, Jolie sold her half of their French vineyard to Shefler for $64 million under the name Nouvel.
Since then, the Fight Club star has been fighting the sale property and business which is located in southeastern France.
The actor said that when he learned of the sale he was ‘ultimately threatened’ if he didn’t co-operate in a partnership with Stoli vodka billionaire Shefler over the winery, reports The Sun.
Pitt goes on on to allege that Shefler ‘secretly’ bought into the business and publicly announced a ‘partnership’ with the Oscar-winner.
Chateau Miraval is a symbol of happier times in the couple’s relationship. They stayed at the sprawling 17th century estate when she gave birth to their twins in nearby Monaco in 2008, launched a successful wine venture from its rich vineyards, and married there in 2014.
‘Shefler personally took action to foster his supposed partnership with Pitt after the transaction closed, writing Pitt repeatedly to bully him into going along,’ The Sun reports citing documents.
Despite being separated for eight years, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are said to be close to finalizing their divorce
Pitt states that he was blindsided when Jolie sold her share of Chateau Miraval, a 35-room estate and celebrated vineyard in the south of France that Pitt and Jolie bought for $60 million in 2011. The 1,000-acre estate – now valued at $164million – is where the couple tied the knot in 2014
Russian businessman Yuri Shefler has been designated as an ‘oligarch’ by the treasury department
‘Since acquiring Nouvel, Shefler has suggested a meeting between himself and Pitt to “discuss the way forward”… At times, Shefler expressed his fervent desire to work with Pitt.’
‘At others, he threatened Pitt based on drummed-up charges of mismanagement at Miraval,’ the documents, which were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in February, according to The Sun.
Pitt says he had an agreement in place with Jolie which afforded him ‘first refusal’ if she chose to sell up.
The couple had a ‘mutual and binding commitment’ to the $160 million Chateau Miraval business and agreed not to sell up without the other’s permission. According to Vanity Fair, Jolie says that ‘no such agreement ever existed.’
Pitt discovered his ex-wife had ‘secretly’ sold her 50 percent stake when a 2021 press release announced that he had new business partners, according to the actor’s lawyers.
The buyer was part of a ‘Russia-affiliated’ vodka conglomerate headed by Shefler, who would use his new relationship with the A-lister to enhance and improve his reputation, court filings alleged.
‘For Jolie, the sale was a business transaction she had every right to make. ‘In an effort to preserve her own mental health and well-being, she looked for and found what she believed would be a good business partner for Pitt,’ a source told Vanity Fair.
While Pitt saw the sale as a ‘betrayal.’
Pitt alleges that Jolie’s sale to a ‘Russian oligarch’ would potentially tarnish the reputation of its highly regarded rosé
‘It is not a coincidence that she sold her interest in Miraval to an adversarial party, and part of the family home to a stranger, right after a judge granted a huge win: 50-50 custody,’ a source close to Pitt told Vanity Fair.
The star’s legal team allege that Shefler is merely trying to profit off of Pitt’s fame.
‘He apologized for “catching Pitt by surprise by entering his Miraval Empire,” and asked Pitt to “trust me and rely upon me” as his new “partner.”
‘But, Shefler warned, if Pitt did not bend to his desires, Shefler would “be protecting his interest and would not hesitate to take that process until the very end.’
‘And he has made good on that threat: since the transaction, Shefler has leveraged Nouvel — the California LLC he now controls — to sue Pitt and attempt a hostile takeover of Château Miraval,’ the documents continue.
In February, a court in Luxembourg – where Chateau Miraval’s holding company is based – has stripped Nouvel of the portion of shares gifted by Pitt in 2013, handing control of them to a court-appointed receiver.
Pitt had argued that they were given under the understanding that she would not sell them.
Judge Carole Kerschen ruled it was necessary to end the ‘blockage of decision’ and save the business. A ‘merits hearing’ in around two years is likely to decide that Pitt regain full control of the gifted shares.
By selling instead to Shefler, Jolie linked the Chateau Miraval to Russia and Vladimir Putin – hurting the brand perhaps irreparably, Pitt alleges.
In a counterclaim Jolie accused Pitt of forcing her into selling to his company, Mondo Bongo, and spreading lies that Shefler’s connections and dealings with the Kremlin.
Pitt was further accused of hiding assets and using profits from the wine on a swimming pool and ornate staircase that was rebuilt multiple times.
An aerial view taken on May 31, 2008 in Le Val, southeastern France, shows the Chateau Miraval
‘The only thing that Jolie’s Cross-Complaint gets right is that she and Pitt purchased Château Miraval as a ‘loving home for their six children,’ Pitt’s lawyers protested in documents filed in 2022.
‘As set forth in Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, Pitt and Jolie had a mutual and binding commitment, reflected by their conduct and statements to one another over time, that they would hold Miraval together and, if the time came, that they would sell their interests separately only with the other’s consent.’
The filing said Pitt trusted Jolie and thus ‘devoted his time and his resources to renovating the estate and building a highly successful wine business.’
‘Jolie, though supportive of Pitt’s efforts on behalf of the family, did none of the work necessary for Miraval’s success,’ the filing goes on.
‘Instead, she allowed Pitt to pour money and sweat equity into the business in reliance on her promise to hold Miraval together, as well as the contractual rights her holding company Nouvel owed his. By the time of their separation, Pitt’s investment exceeded Jolie’s by nearly $50 million.’
The legal battle apparently continues to this day, with French authorities investigating the business, reports VF.
The Vanity Fair article ends by noting that since September 2016, nobody from either Pitt or Jolie families have returned to stay at the property.