A few weeks ago, at the height of the Johnny Depp trial, a legal world source reached out to turn my attention to another, perhaps even more litigious celebrity split. “Take a look at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie,” this person suggested. “The Depp stuff is child’s play compared to that.”
Bold words, but after doing some digging, it’s somewhat shocking that the Pitt-Jolie drama, featuring two of Hollywood’s highest profile stars, hasn’t generated more media interest. Indeed, the litigation stemming from their separation now spans at least three countries, includes shadowy cases under the cover of pseudonyms, and involves some of the largest and most powerful Big Law firms in the industry: Gibson Dunn, Cravath Swaine & Moore, Wachtell Lipton, and Covington & Burling. The Pitt-Jolie decoupling has even managed, believe it or not, to intersect with the Russia-Ukraine war.
For the purposes of this story, I’m going to leave aside the main divorce proceedings, which began way back in 2016, the subsequent custody feud and ugly domestic abuse allegations. (The latter controversy appears to be the subject of an ongoing “Jane Doe” suit against the Department of Justice seeking information about an F.B.I. investigation into Pitt that resulted in no charges.)