Johnny Depp was one of the highest-paid actors in the world. His overall net worth may have been as high as US$650 million at one point, according to his former business manager. Now? An estimated US$150 million. And while that’s still a fortune, the Pirates of the Caribbean star has been known to spend wantonly on everything from extravagant gifts for Amber Heard to whole towns in France. Depp has attempted to defend his spending in the past, telling The Wall Street Journal back in 2017, “It’s my money. If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it’s my thing.”
Here’s what you need to know about how Depp earned his money – and how he blew it.
He earned big in Hollywood – including making US$68 million from just one film
Depp has come a long way since making his debut in horror film Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 and shooting to fame in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. As a teenage idol in 21 Jump Street, he was earning US$45,000 per episode of the show in 1987 but since the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, his base salary for films has been more like US$20 million.
He reportedly earned US$300 million in total for appearing in five of the Pirates movies, and was paid US$68 million for playing the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, according to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper. Despite being dropped from Fantastic Beasts in 2020, he still got US$16 million after filming only one scene.
And while Disney’s Pirates franchise may have brought in US$4.5 billion globally, some of Depp’s other films haven’t performed quite as well. The Rum Diaries project (during which time he met Heard), had a production budget of US$45 million and only brought in US$24 million at the global box office. Depp was also dubbed Hollywood’s most overpaid actor by Forbes in 2016, with the publication estimating that there was only a US$2.80 box office return for every US$1 he was being paid.
But he has also accused his financial firm of mismanagement
Depp has accused his former business managers at The Management Group (TMG) of mishandling his money. The US$25 million lawsuit claims the firm took an unauthorised US$28 million contingent fee and loaned US$10 million to third parties without his permission. The star also claims that TMG didn’t keep proper financial records and failed to file his taxes on time.
He’s forked out millions in lawsuits
TMG counter sued and the actor settled in 2018 for an undisclosed sum. Depp gave Heard US$7 million in their divorce settlement, which she pledged to donate to good causes. In 2020 he sued British tabloid The Sun for defamation but lost the case and was ordered to pay the publication’s US$840,000 legal fees.
At one point he was spending US$2 million a month on his lavish lifestyle
TMG – who managed Depp’s money between 1999 and 2016 – alleged in the countersuit that the actor blew his fortune by spending US$2 million a month on his over-the-top lifestyle. In 2017, The Hollywood Reporter dubbed Depp “a star in crisis” for spending much of the US$650 million he had earned in the prior 13 years. Depp was branded “out of control” for wasting his money on extravagant purchases, including dropping more than US$5 million to buy three islands in the Bahamas.
— AOL Real Estate (@aolrealestate) June 9, 2014
The filing stated that Depp blew US$300,000 per month (US$3.6 million annually) on paying 40 full-time staff members and US$30,000 a month on wine. In 2018 Depp told Rolling Stone: “It’s insulting to say that I spent US$30,000 on wine, because it was far more.”
The countersuit claimed he spent US$75 million on buying and decorating 14 homes, a reported US$18 million on purchasing and renovating a 150ft yacht, and US$3 million to shoot his author idol Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon. The star later corrected them, saying it was more like US$5 million.
His ex money manager alleged that each month Depp was spending US$100,000 on an addiction doctor and US$200,000 on private jet travel. It’s claimed he paid a sound engineer US$100,000 a year to feed him his lines on set and US$10,000 a day (US$1.8 million a year) on security. The star’s love of art has also set cost him a small fortune. He reportedly bought three Leonor Fini paintings from a New York City art gallery, totalling US$565,000.
He lavished his exes with expensive gifts
The actor reportedly spent huge amounts on extravagant gifts for Heard in particular, including a Ford Mustang worth US$150,000 and an Ernest Hemingway book worth US$155,000.
Depp has two children with his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis. While he didn’t marry the French actress and singer, he offered to financially support her when they separated, though it’s not known how much the payouts are. He also gave her a US$4.5 million home.
Inspired by his charity work, Johnny’s fans have a group called Johnny’s Angels:Depp Fans for Charity. The group focuses on raising awareness and funds for children’s hospices, in particular the Children's Hospice & Palliative Care Coalition. #johnnydepp #JusticeForJohnnyDepp
— Trollmor 👹 (@trollets_fru) May 28, 2022
Despite his generosity in relationships, Depp’s former money manager has shot down claims from the star that he has also given away a chunk of his wealth to charity. “I don’t recall writing large charity checks,” Joel Mandel said in his January deposition. “It was more his style to show up at an event or lend his name [to] something rather than write a check.”
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.