Johnny Depp discovered that he was facing a $750 million loss just hours before attending a birthday party for his wife which descended into a physical confrontation, a court has heard.
The Hollywood star described to the High Court in London how he had a “bad meeting” on April 21, 2016, when he was told his former business managers “stole my money”.
He claimed his new business manager told him he had lost the $650 million he had earned since appearing in the second and third films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
To make matters worse, he was also “$100 million in the hole” because the former financial managers had not paid his taxes to the US government for 17 years, Mr Depp told the court.
He had then travelled immediately to the Los Angeles penthouse he shared with his then wife, Amber Heard, for a party to celebrate her 30th birthday.
Ms Heard has claimed her then-husband arrived late and, after the guests had left, descended into a violent rage which saw him throw a magnum bottle of champagne at her, pull her hair and push her to the floor.
Giving evidence for the fifth day in his libel case against The Sun newspaper, Mr Depp claimed he was the one who had been attacked by Ms Heard.
The actor has brought proceedings against NGN, the publisher of the newspaper, and its executive editor, Dan Wooton, over an online story from April 2018 which described him as a “wife-beater”.
The birthday episode is one of 14 alleged incidents of domestic violence, all denied by Mr Depp, that are being relied on by NGN in its defence against his claim.
David Sherborne, representing Mr Depp, asked him how much money his business manager said had been taken from him on the day of Ms Heard’s birthday.
He replied: “It was put to me this way, because I had no idea about money or amounts of money: since Pirates 2 and 3, I had – and this is ludicrous to have to state, it’s quite embarrassing – apparently I had made $650 million.
“And when I sacked [the former business managers], for the right reasons, I had not only lost $650 million, but I was $100 million dollars in the hole because they had not paid the government my taxes for 17 years.”
He described the meeting as “very unpleasant and ugly” and said he had afterwards smoked cannabis as a “calming agent” in the car on the way to the party.
Mr Depp claimed that his wife began arguing with him at the end of the evening because he had embarrassed her by his late arrival, prompting him to go to bed to avoid further confrontation.
But the sight of him reading in bed on her birthday made her even more angry, he told the court.
Mr Depp was subsequently caught talking about the incident to Ms Heard on a “secret recording” she made of their conversation during a meeting in San Francisco in July 2016.
He said to Ms Heard: “You f****** haymakered me, man… you came around the bed to f****** punching me.”
Mr Depp was asked to explain to Mr Justice Nicol what he meant by “haymakered”.
“It’s kind of a roundhouse punch, as it were, it is a bit of a wild swing, but effective if it reaches the target,” he told the court.
The court was also shown a picture of Mr Depp passed out and covered in ice cream in 2014, which Ms Heard had taken to show him how “pathetic” he was the next day. He had been due to go to the Bahamas to detox.
Mr Depp said Ms Heard had never shown him photos of her injuries, only the ice cream picture, because she knew he would not be able to remember it.
Earlier in the hearing, Mr Depp had denied a separate incident in Los Angeles in March 2015 when he allegedly grabbed Ms Heard’s hair and punched her repeatedly.
He claimed he could not have attacked her in the manner described as he had his middle finger in a cast after severing the tip of it during a chaotic night in Australia.
Mr Depp said his cast had a “little dinosaur” on it, because he decided to have a children’s “wraparound” on it as it was “more fun”.
Mr Sherborne asked: “And with that cast on, would you have been able to grab her hair with one hand and punch her repeatedly with the other?”
Mr Depp replied: “No, sir.”
Another of the alleged assaults, on board a flight from Boston to Los Angeles in May 2014, was disputed by Stephen Deuters, Mr Depp’s former assistant.
Ms Heard has claimed she was slapped by her inebriated husband, who then kicked her in the back as she tried to get away from him.
Mr Deuters told the court he interpreted the kick as a “playful attempt to tap her on the bottom with his shoe”, despite saying in a text to Ms Heard the next day Mr Depp was “appalled” to hear about his behaviour.
The text continued: “When I told him he kicked you, he cried. It was disgusting. And he knows it.”
Mr Deuters said he had been attempting to pacify Ms Heard by parroting her version of events.
A concierge who worked in the building where Mr Depp and Ms Heard lived told the court she had seen CCTV which made her doubt one of the actress’s assault claims.
Trinity Esparza, owner of concierge service Tri Provide, said she had checked the internal footage of the Eastern Colombia Lofts, LA, after hearing Ms Heard had accused Mr Depp of attacking her on May 21 2016.
She had seen Ms Heard on several occasions that week and said her face was unmarked until May 27, when she had a “red mark” under her eye and said she was getting a divorce. However, the footage showed Mr Depp had left the block on May 21 and not returned.
Ms Esparza said in a written statement that footage from May 24 made her “even more sceptical” of Ms Heard’s allegations, as she could be seen with her sister, Whitney, who threw a “fake punch into the visibly unmarked face of Ms Heard”.
Sasha Wass QC, representing NGN, told the court that “miraculously, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, that CCTV footage has disappeared”.
In a further bizarre twist, Ms Esparza said she saw Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire, visiting Ms Heard in either June or July that year and learnt from a colleague he had been “visiting late at night when Mr Depp was away for more than a year”.
After encountering Mr Musk, she was approached by Ms Heard, who had “three small round bruises” on her neck, two bandages on her arm and a “faint mark on her left cheek”, according to her statement.
Asked by Ms Wass whether she had included the detail in her statement to suggest Mr Musk had caused the marks, Ms Esparza said: “I didn’t suggest that, I don’t know.”
The hearing continues.