In Tuesday’s leg of Johnny Depp’s legal endurance race with ex-wife Amber Heard in Fairfax County, Virginia, an expert witness testified that Depp lost $40 million in potential earnings in the wake of Amber Heard’s 2018 Washington Post op-ed, in which she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse, and for which Depp is suing her for $50 million on defamation grounds (Heard is suing him back for $100 million, claiming he lied when he said her allegations are a lie).
Forensic accountant Michael Spindler, who is being financially compensated by Depp for his services, said he “looked at the period following the op-ed”—which was published December 18, 2018—through December 31, 2020, to calculate the lost earnings.
He concluded that Depp suffered lost earnings of $40 million in the wake of the op-ed, after subtracting the 10 percent fee that would have gone to Depp’s agent.
Depp lost the $22.5 million he had secured for the sixth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean when Disney pulled him out of his beloved role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Spindler also looked at “all the other roles, the non-franchise films.” He estimated Depp lost $20 million in earnings in that area of film work. In total, Spindler said Depp’s lost earnings due to the op-ed came to an impressive $40,318,237.
His numbers, Spindler said, were taken from testimony given by Depp’s manager, Jack Wigham, on Monday.
Spindler, who has worked with Depp before, admitted that he was paid as an expert witness, and that his firm billed $550 an hour for his work crunching the numbers for the case.
Meanwhile, Heard’s lawyers cross-examined Spindler, arguing that he had not taken into account factors other than the Washington Post op-ed that may also have put a damper on his income—for instance, the story in the British tab The Sun calling him a “wifebeater” and the subsequent and unsuccessful lawsuit Depp brought against the paper.
Before breaking for lunch, Depp’s attorney recalled the words of witness Ben King, Depp’s house manager, who himself recalled Heard’s words to him on the plane back from Australia to Los Angeles—where the severed finger incident occurred.
“Did you ever totally lose it on someone you love?” Heard asked King.
Depp’s team then rested its case, at which point Heard’s attorneys motioned to strike the whole thing, claiming they had failed to prove their case. The motion was denied, with Judge Penny Azcarate saying there was enough evidence to keep going. Heard’s team will begin its defense next, and she is expected to testify shortly.
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