Chateau Miraval is where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie became husband and wife back in 2014, and now the sprawling estate in Provence has brought the divorced exes together one more time — as plaintiffs in a lawsuit.
As The Guardian reports, the former couple are being sued by designer Odile Soudant, who was in charge of the lighting for the multimillion-dollar renovation of their chateau in the south of France, and now claims that Brangelina stiffed her on more than a half-million euros for work completed.
Her suit claims that Pitt and Jolie “drove her company towards financial ruin by failing to honour bills for a multimillion-euro project to illuminate the 17th-century property.”
In April, the Paris court of appeal ordered the Chateau Miraval company — owned jointly by Jolie ad Pitt —to pay Soudant €565,000, including €60,000 for damaging her reputation (approximately CAD$839,000).
As Soudant told the Guardian, she had kept the court’s legal decision confidential while hoping to resolve the matter amicably; that, apparently, didn’t happen.
In 2010, Soudant says Pitt asked her to come up with ways to exploit the chateau’s natural light. “He wanted to make it an exceptional place and believed that light should be at the heart of this,” Soudant told Libération.
According to Soudant, she was given “carte blanche” to light four buildings on the estate, including the 40-room main chateau. And although there was no contract, Soudant claims that she billed Pitt and Jolie’s company each month, employing 17 people, including architects, designers, lighting and acoustic specialists, and even an optical engineer who calculated the angle of the sun’s rays as they entered the windows.
After two years and a reported €25 million (CAD$37 million), the project remained unfinished, with Soudant telling the court that Pitt stopped paying her company due to a billing dispute.
When her continued requests for money in order to pay employees and contractors weren’t answered, she says she had no choice but to suspend operations of her company. Ten days later, she alleges Pitt sent her an email reading: “I don’t know how things happen in France but in the United States, friends don’t attack friends. I’ve been nothing but a fan of your work. Do not attack. Let’s finish the project and be proud of it. The work is too good to end on a bad note. Life is too short, my friend.”
A second mail from Pitt read: “Don’t waste time with legal action. Follow your artistic journey and don’t worry about the rest.”
Even though the court awarded her the payout in April, she tells The Guardian that she is still waiting for legal recognition of her work at the chateau. “I am an artist and this is my work. When someone tries to steal my work it is something else,” she said. “This is all very painful for me.”
Pitt, however, begs to differ, offering a statement to the Paris court in which an architect who worked on the project declared: “The lighting ideas came principally from Mr Pitt himself. He is passionate about architecture and knew what he wanted to achieve.”
Despite their divorce, the former couple decided to maintain joint ownership of the chateau as an investment, as the property’s vineyards produce approximately 150,000 bottles of wine per year.