Amber Heard denies she lied about making $7m in donations from Johnny Depp divorce despite video evidence

Amber Heard claimed that she had been unable to complete the payments because of costs from Johnny Depp suing her

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 17 May 2022 18:41 BST
Amber Heard denies she lied about making $7m in donations from divorce despite evidence
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Amber Heard has denied lying about making $7m in donations to two charities from her divorce payout from Johnny Depp, despite damning video evidence played in court in the former couple’s high-stakes defamation trial.

The Aquaman actress was subjected to an intense grilling under cross-examination from Mr Depp’s attorney on Monday afternoon where she claimed that she had been unable to complete the payments because of legal costs from her ex-husband suing her.

“I still fully intend on honoring all of my pledges,” she testified.

“I would love him to stop suing me so I can.”

When the couple’s $7m divorce settlement was reached in August 2016, Ms Heard pledged to split the entire payout equally between the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Terence Dougherty, the chief operating officer and general counsel of the ACLU, testified earlier at the trial that the charity had so far received less than half of the $3.5m promised.

Mr Dougherty said that $350,000 had been paid directly by Ms Heard, $100,000 paid through Mr Depp, $500,000 paid by Elon Musk through a donor-advised fund, and that $350,000 was also paid via a donor-advised fund (which is also believed to be from Mr Musk) – for a total donation of $1.3m.

The court was shown a 2016 email which detailed a 10-year plan for Ms Heard to make the donation.

The ACLU executive testified that the charity had not received any money from Ms Heard since 2019 because the actor “was having financial difficulties”.

In cout on Monday, jurors were shown a clip from Ms Heard’s appearance on Danish TV show RTL Late Night in October 2018, where she said that ““$7m was donated in total”.

“I split the amount between the ACLU and CHLA. ACLU is a prominent non-profit organisation in the US and they work on the behalf of marginalised communities on the ground, and in legislative reform,” she said on the show.

“I wanted nothing.”

Mr Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez pressed Ms Heard over the statements saying: “Sitting here today, Ms Heard, you still haven’t donated the $7m divorce settlement to charity, isn’t that right?”

Ms Heard told the court that she uses the terms “pledged” and “donated” interchangeably.

“I use pledge and donation synonymously,” she testified, insisting that she does “intend to fulfill those obligations”.

Ms Heard also likened making the donations to buying a house through mortgage payments over time.

“I pledged the entirety to charity. When you say you buy a house, you don’t pay for the entire house at one time. You pay it over time,” she said.

When Ms Heard blamed her inabilit to fulfil her commitment on the defamation lawsuit, Mr Depp’s attorney pushed back, saying that 13 months had passed between her receiving the full divorce settlement and the lawsuit being filed.

“I made the pledge. I want to be very clear. I pledged the entirety. I haven’t been able to fulfill those pledges because I’ve been sued,” she said.

She added: “Johnny sued me.”

Ms Vasquez told her she had the entire $7m for 13 months before Mr Depp sued her and “you chose not to pay it to the charities you pledged it to”, accusing her of wanting to keep some of the money for herself.

The final instalment – a payment of $2.3m – was paid on 1 February 2018, the court heard. Mr Depp filed the defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife in 2019.

Of the money so far donated, Mr Depp’s attorney said that “those $500,000 payments [to the ACLU] came from your new boyfriend Elon Musk, right?”

Ms Heard responded that “I don’t know if he was a new boyfriend at the time”.

She testified that Mr Musk made a donation to the ACLU “in my honour” but insisted that it did not count towards her pledge.

Mr Musk and Ms Heard were believed to have dated on and off between 2016 and 2018 and the SpaceX boss was named on her witness list for the trial.

During opening statements, Ms Heard’s lawyers said that Mr Depp had been “obsessed” with Mr Musk.

The former spouses’ agent Christian Carino previously testified at the trial that Ms Heard was dating Mr Musk at around the same time as she was trying to reconcile with her husband.

Ms Heard testified on Monday that she met Mr Musk at the Met Gala in 2016 when her then-husband stood her up and they became friends after.

Mr Depp is suing his ex-wife for defamation over a 2018 op-ed she penned for The Washington Post where she described herself as a “a public figure representing domestic abuse”.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor is not named in the article, which is titled “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.

However Mr Depp claims that it falsely implies that he is a domestic abuser – something that he strongly denies – and that it has left him struggling to land roles in Hollywood. He is suing for $50m.

Ms Heard is countersuing for $100m, accusing Mr Depp of orchestrating a “smear campaign” against her and describing his lawsuit as a continuation of “abuse and harassment”.

The trial began on 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia, with explosive testimony playing out inside the courtroom.

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