Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been ordered to pay their lighting designer 565,000 Euros.
Odile Soudant took legal action against the former couple – who split up last September for allegedly failing to credit her work on their French home and driving her company towards financial ruin by failing to honour bills for a huge lighting project on the Chateau Miraval estate.
In April, the Paris court of appeal ordered Brad and Angelina’s Chateau Miraval company to pay the sum to the designer, which included 60,000 Euros for damaging her reputation, but the legal ruling was only reported in French news outlet Libération on Wednesday (16.08.17).
According to legal documents, the former couple – who have Maddox, 16, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 11 and nine-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne together – undertook a huge renovation project on the property and in 2010, Brad, 53, asked Odile to come up with ways to exploit natural light in the house and its adjoining buildings.
She said: “He wanted to make it an exceptional place and believed that light should be at the heart of this.”
No contract was signed, but the designer billed the Hollywood stars’ company for her fees every month while her Lumières Studio carried out technical studies and tried out her installations on scaled down models before she had them fitted in the property.
17 people were employed for the venture – including architects, designers and an optical engineer – and it was unfinished two years later, with various contractors and sub-contractors blaming others for the delays.
The court heard the ‘Moneyball’ star stopped paying the company when his chief designer claimed she had billed for 4.9 million Euros, but the judges ruled the figure had been “greatly exaggerated” and the delays were not Odile’s fault.
In evidence, the lighting expert said she had no idea why she had stopped being paid at the time but she had to suspend operations when her requests for money to pay her own staff went unanswered.
She claims she received an email 10 days later from Brad, which read: “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.”
It was followed by another, which added: “Don’t waste time with legal action. Follow your artistic journey and don’t worry about the rest.”
Although Odile was awarded a payout earlier this year, she said she is still fighting to be recognised as creator of the lighting project, which was eventually handed over to one of her former employees because of the dispute.
She told the Guardian newspaper: “I am an artist and this is my work. When someone tries to steal my work it is something else. This is all very painful for me.”
She insisted the money she received for damage to her reputation was “nothing” compared with what she had experienced.
She added: “Of course, people think Brad Pitt is right, that ‘he’s the good guy and she is wrong’.”
The ‘Tree of Life’ star’s solicitors, Hogan Lovells, insisted the lighting design inspiration came from Brad himself.
And an architect working on the property told the court: “The lighting ideas came principally from Mr Pitt himself. He is passionate about architecture and knew what he wanted to achieve.”