Brad Pitt claims he was ‘bullied & threatened’ by Russian tycoon in $350 million vineyard battle against Angelina Jolie
BRAD Pitt has accused his Russian billionaire business rival of trying to “bully” and “threaten” him with smears in their battle over the movie star’s French vineyard.
The Oscar-winner, 60, is currently fighting vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler, 56, in court for control of the Chateau Miraval winery he used to own with ex-wife Angelina Jolie.
Pitt is trying to undo the $64 million sale by Jolie, 48, of her share in the vineyard to Shefler through her investment firm Nouvel in 2021.
The actor claims in new court docs that, after “secretly” buying Nouvel, Shefler unilaterally put out a press release announcing their “partnership” and then demanded the pair meet for talks.
The Once Upon A Time in Hollywood star says he was “ultimately threatened” if he didn’t cooperate.
The legal documents exclusively obtained by The U.S. Sun state: “Shefler personally took action to foster his supposed partnership with Pitt after the transaction closed, writing Pitt repeatedly to bully him into going along.”
The legal filing adds: “Since acquiring Nouvel, Shefler has suggested a meeting between himself and Pitt to ‘discuss the way forward’…
“At times, Shefler expressed his fervent desire to work with Pitt.
“At others, he threatened Pitt based on drummed-up charges of mismanagement at Miraval.”
The claims were set out by Pitt’s lawyers in a filing earlier this month at the Los Angeles Superior Court.
He says the 2021 deal was in breach of Jolie’s earlier promise to offer him first refusal if she ever sold up.
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Pitt sued Jolie in February 2022 over the sale of Nouvel and its 50% stake in Chateau Miraval to a business group controlled by Shefler.
In September that year Nouvel hit back with a cross-complaint against Pitt and is seeking $350 million in damages.
Pitt’s legal team claims that Shefler – whose business empire owns the Stolichnaya vodka brand – was desperate to cash in on the star’s “Hollywood celebrity”.
The new court docs allege that the businessman wanted to “elbow his way into a partnership between Pitt and Jolie—two California-based celebrities—in order to profit from Pitt’s fame”.
The papers also set out an example of correspondence sent by Shefler to Pitt on December 11, 2021.
They state: “He apologized for ‘catching Pitt by surprise by entering his Miraval Empire,’ and asked Pitt to ‘trust me and rely upon me’ as his new ‘partner.’
“But, Shefler warned, if Pitt did not bend to his desires, Shefler would ‘be protecting his interest and would not hesitate to take that process until the very end.’
“And he has made good on that threat: since the transaction, Shefler has leveraged Nouvel — the California LLC he now controls — to sue Pitt and attempt a hostile takeover of Château Miraval.”
Shefler claims the court in California has no jurisdiction to hear a full trial on the matter.
His legal team has previously described Pitt as “an actor, not a winemaker” and added that he “deals in illusions, not dirt and grapes”.
Meanwhile, a European court recently reportedly handed Pitt a partial victory when it stripped Shefler of 10% of his shares, effectively making Pitt the majority shareholder once again.
The court in Luxembourg – where Chateau Miraval’s holding company is based – gave control of shares gifted by Pitt to Jolie in 2013 to a court-appointed receiver.
Pitt and Jolie bought the 1,300-acre estate in Provence, Southern France, in 2008 for $28.4 million and married there in 2014.
The vineyard has been highly profitable and even produced an award-winning rosé.
The former Hollywood power couple – who share six kids – split up in 2016 but have yet to finalize their divorce.
It is believed a final settlement may be close after the pair last week submitted financial documents to court.