Amber Heard is ‘broke’ due to mounting legal fees, lavish spending: sources
By Elizabeth Rosner, Priscilla DeGregory and Emily Crane, New York Post – 6/2/2022
Amber Heard can’t pay the $10.4 million she owes Johnny Depp, her lawyer revealed Thursday — as sources told The Post the actress is “broke” due to hefty legal fees associated with the bombshell defamation trial.
“Oh, no, absolutely not,” Heard’s attorney Elaine Bredehoft told NBC’s “Today” when asked if the actress had the means to cover the hefty judgment handed down by the jury on Wednesday.
The high-profile court battle with her ex-husband has left the 36-year-old actress hurting for cash, according to sources, including one who also placed the blame on Heard’s past lavish spending, on travel, clothes, gifts and wine.
Multiple sources said the “Aquaman” star had to switch legal representation and is relying on her homeowner’s insurance policy to cover the cost of her current attorneys in the case.
The bill for Heard’s attorney has mostly been footed by The Travelers Companies under terms of the actress’s insurance policy, sources said.
A vice president of the insurance firm, Pamela Johnson, was spotted in the Fairfax, Virginia, court with Heard multiple times throughout her trial. Neither Johnson nor Travelers returned calls from The Post.
Legal experts said using homeowner’s insurance policies is common in defamation cases.
“It’s a little oddity that most people don’t know. In most homeowner insurance policies, there is coverage if you are sued for defamation based on how much you pay through coverage,” Heather Heidelbaugh, a Pennsylvania trial attorney, told The Post.
While the insurance company then hires and pays for the attorney, Virginia lawyer Jeremiah Denton said most policies have a clause that stipulates that judgment costs won’t be covered.
“The insurance company will keep in its back pocket the option of denying coverage at the end of the day — denying coverage means refusing to pay the plaintiff, in this case Mr. Depp,” Denton said.
“A lot of insurance policies provide coverage for defamation but they have an exclusion in, which says ‘We will not cover any intentional wrongdoing,’ ” Denton said. “In order to win a defamation case against a public figure, you have to show intentional wrongdoing. Sometimes what it requires to get the judgment kicks you out of the policy that may pay for the judgment. That’s the dilemma.”
Representatives for Heard and Bredehoft also didn’t respond to The Post’s request for comment about the star’s financial situation.
Heard’s net worth has been estimated at between $1.5 million and $2.5 million as of Thursday, according to the Celebrity Net Worth site and other outlets — a far cry from what she owes Depp in the wake of the jury’s ruling.
Amid the lurid, six-week defamation trial, Heard and multiple witnesses had testified that the actress might not have the funds to actually pay her ex-husband.
Court testimony revealed that Heard was paid $1 million for 2018’s “Aquaman” and another $2 million for the sequel, which is due out next year. Her role in that movie has been significantly reduced.
Witnesses testified about how Heard lost several brand endorsements — including one with L’Oreal — after Depp’s lawyer launched a smear campaign against her.
Heard also never made good on her promise to donate the $7 million she received from Depp in their 2016 divorce settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
She testified the donations were delayed because of her legal fees and bills.
A representative for the ACLU told jurors that the actress cut the last check for the charity in 2018 but then stopped making payments because “we learned she was having financial difficulties.”
Depp sued Heard in 2019. She testified that she had every intention of still making the donations, telling jurors: “I would love him to stop suing me so I can.”
Depp could still potentially claim the money he was awarded by garnishing his ex-wife’s wages from her two upcoming movies, levy her assets or even seize her house in California’s Yucca Valley, experts told The Post.
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom desert oasis has been valued at $1 million. Heard purchased it in 2019 for $570,000 under a private trust in the name of her accountant, according to property records seen by The Post.
“If she doesn’t have the money, then his avenue, while she’s pursuing an appeal, is to try to execute on property she owns,” or her bank accounts, Virginia appellate lawyer Steven Emmert said.
He added that if Depp wants to find out where Heard’s assets are, he could serve her with a summons for debtors interrogatories “where you summon the debtor to come to a court and his lawyer would get to ask her questions saying ‘What property do you own, what real estate do you own, what vehicles do you own, what jewelry do you own, what art collections’ — anything else that they could use to grab and sell at auction to try to pay down and pay off, ultimately, this judgment.”
Denton said that if Heard doesn’t turn over the judgment money, “[Depp] can institute collection proceedings so he can garnish [Heard’s] pay, if she has a salary or wage-type income.”
“He can attach her assets which basically means seize them. He can get to her assets, sell them and take cash,” Denton said.
Litigator Brett Turnbull said judgements in Virginia are good for 10 years and have the ability to be extended.
“[Heard] could be subject to this judgment for up to 30 years. If she suddenly had a new infusion of money — that can be discovered by [Depp] and pursued,” said Turnbull, a founding partner at Turnbull Holcomb & Lemoine.
Reps for Depp didn’t comment.