Amber Heard testified on Monday that she failed to pay her pledged $3.5million donation to the ACLU because of Johnny Depp's $50million lawsuit against her. However Heard has claimed several times - including under oath in her 2020 libel case with Depp in the UK - that she had donated the entire settlement to charity.
Amber Heard Admits To NOT Honoring Her Promised $3.5m Donation To The ACLU
Amber Heard has admitted to failing to pay her pledged $3.5 million donations to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), despite previously claiming to have paid the contribution. Testifying on the stand Monday, Heard said it was Depp suing her that kept her from fulfilling her pledge to donate her entire $7million divorce settlement.
The pledge came after Heard divorced Depp in 2016, at which point she said she would divide her $7 million settlement between the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Heard's cross-examination has now begun, with Depp's lawyers now able to scrutinize the Aquaman star's testimony in court.
However, Heard has claimed several times - including under oath in Depp's 2020 libel case in the UK - that she had donated the entire settlement to charity. In court, today Heard said she has yet to make the full donation 'because Johnny sued me for $50million in March of 2019.'
The court was shown documents, including a thank you note to Heard for her pledge, as well as a pledge form and a schedule regarding the donation. The schedule was not signed by Heard but other documents indicate she was aware of the 10-year commitment, The Independent reports.
Heard appeared on Dutch talk show RTL Late Night in 2018 where she said, '$7million in total was donated - I split it between the ACLU and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. I wanted nothing.' Terence Dougherty, the ACLU Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, testified earlier in the case and said that so far only a total of $1.3million has either been donated by Heard or on her behalf.
Of that money, Heard contributed $350,000 directly in December 2018 and she has not paid any money since. $100,000 was paid by Depp and another $350,000 came from a fund at Fidelity, an investment company. Another $500,000 payment came from an account at investment firm Vanguard, which Dougherty said he 'believed it was a fund set up by Elon Musk.'
Heard's lawyer Elaine Bredehoft asked why Heard accepted a $7million settlement from Depp.
Heard said: 'I didn't care about the money. I was told if I didn't agree to a number it could be overturned, we would never settle. I took far less than what they were offering and what I was entitled to.'
Heard said she donated the money to charity because she was 'never interested in Johnny's money.'
She said 'I just wanted my safety and my future and he compromised that….I wanted him to leave me alone. I've been saying that since 2016.'
Heard said on the stand today that during negotiations with Depp she asked him to stop leaking stories to the media. He agreed to do so but only if she agreed to certain conditions.
She said: 'He wanted me to drop charges, or some version of that, get back together with him and go on tour with him in the tour bus. Certain things that were impossible and go against all of, everything I'd stood for in getting my restraining order
'I was feeling like I couldn't live my life, people were turning on me, I had never been inundated with that much press. Every witness who indirectly supported me got bombarded'
Asked what was important to her about the divorce, Heard said it was just the statement that they put out.
She wanted to 'get the press out of this' and stop her and her family being harassed. Heard said: 'In that statement to clear my name, I wanted to clear my name, it's all I have. I come from nothing. All I have is my integrity and my name and that's what he promised to take from me'.
Depp's accountant and business manager Edward White testified earlier in the trial and told the court that Heard initially demanded $4million after the divorce in May 2016. Then the demand 'continually increased' to $5million and then it went up to $5.5million, White said. As divorce negotiations continued the amount kept going up and jumped to $7million which ended up being the final settlement.
White said that on top of that Depp had to pay $500,000 of Heard's legal fees and all the debts they had accumulated during their marriage - with everything paid to her being tax-free. According to White, the 'total consideration paid to Heard by Depp was $14.25m. The trial also heard last month that Heard threatened to publicly serve Depp with a restraining order if he did not continue financially supporting her lifestyle after she filed for divorce.
Among her demands was the 'exclusive use and possession' of the black Range Rover she drove, with Depp continuing to make payments towards the vehicle. She also wanted to carry on living rent free in three Los Angeles penthouses she and her friends were staying in, all owned by Depp, and asked for her estranged husband to cover $125,000 of her legal and accounting fees.
The court heard a series of recordings of fraught phone calls between Depp and Heard during the summer of 2016 after their divorce. In one of them Heard tells Depp: 'I am not after a dime of your money.'
Explaining the recording, Heard said: 'Johnny told me he would ruin me. That no one would ever touch me professionally. That I'd never work again. I'd be selling Depends', referring to the adult incontinence products.
Heard said: 'He'd ruin my career. He refused to not engage with the press by leaking false (stories). I was trying to get him to call the dogs off. He was calling me a liar…I kept saying don't make me prove it. He was calling me a liar and having a sophisticated PR machine (speak to the press).'
Heard testified about meeting ex-boyfriend Elon Musk on the Met Gala red carpet after Depp 'stood her up'. Heard told the court that on May 2, 2016 she and Depp were invited to the Met Gala by designer Ralph Lauren but Depp failed to turn up for his fitting. Heard said that she went to the gala by herself because Depp was a no-show.
'I got out of the car and walked the red carpet by myself, with someone from Ralph Lauren's team,' she said. 'Sat next to an empty place setting for Johnny - he effectively stood me up on the carpet.'
Heard said that she met a man named 'Elon' who she later realized was Tesla billionaire Elon Musk.
She said: 'I didn't recognize him until we started talking. He'd reminded me we'd met once before. We spoke on the red carpet in the waiting line. He seemed like a real gentleman. Heard said she became friends with Musk after that. She began dating the Tesla founder soon after and by August the following year they had broken up.
Last month Depp's former agent Christian Carino told the court about emails sent to him by Heard after she broke up with Elon Musk. Carino, a talent agent with mega agency CAA and Lady Gaga's ex-fiance, said that Heard began dating Musk 'immediately after Johnny Depp.'
In an email on August 7, 2017, Heard told Carino: 'Dealing with breakup. I hate when things go public. See I'm so sad.' Carino replied to Heard: 'You weren't in love with him. You told me 1,000 times you were just feeling space.' Asked what he meant, Carino said: 'Why would you be sad if you weren't in love with him to begin with?'
Heard's next email read: 'I know but I wanted time to grieve and recover in my own time.' In another email in the same conversation she said: 'I hate that, yet again a man lets me fall on the spikes by myself.'
Carino said: 'How so?' Heard emailed back: 'They're mad at me for leaving them and put things like this out there, apparently referring to the story going public.
Carino responded: 'You could avoid all this if you stop dating uber-famous people.'
Asked what he meant in the email, Carino told the court he was trying to tell Heard: 'If you don't like being in the press about your personal life don't date people that are famous.'
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was connected to the donor-advised fund that contributed $850,000 to ACLU on behalf of Heard, and Dougherty told the court that, based on an email from Musk, it was believed the $3.5 million ($AUD 5 million, £2.8 million) would be paid to the charity over the course of 10 years, though the plan was never confirmed.