BRAD Pitt has accused his Russian billionaire rival of trying to “intimidate” and “threaten” him with defamation in their battle for the movie star’s French vineyard.
The Oscar-winning actor, 60, is currently battling vodka mogul Yuri Shefler, 56, in court for control of the Château Miraval winery he owned with ex-wife Angelina Jolie.
Pitt is trying to reverse Jolie, 48,’s $64 million sale of her share of the vineyard to Shefler through her investment company Nouvel in 2021.
The actor claims in new court documents that after “secretly” purchasing Nouvel, Shefler unilaterally issued a press release announcing their “partnership” and then demanded that the two men meet for discussions.
The Once Upon A Time in Hollywood star said he was “ultimately threatened” if he didn’t cooperate.
Legal documents obtained exclusively by The US Sun state: “Shefler personally took steps to further his purported partnership with Pitt after the transaction closed, writing to Pitt on several occasions to intimidate him into accepting. »
The legal filing adds: “Since the Nouvel acquisition, Shefler suggested a meeting between him and Pitt to “discuss the path forward”…
“At times, Shefler expressed his fervent desire to work with Pitt.
“In other instances, he threatened Pitt based on trumped-up accusations of mismanagement at Miraval.”
The allegations were outlined by Pitt’s lawyers in a filing earlier this month in Los Angeles Superior Court.
He claims the 2021 deal violates Jolie’s earlier promise to offer him first refusal if she ever sold.
Pitt sued Jolie in February 2022 over the sale of Nouvel and its 50% stake in Château Miraval to a group of companies controlled by Shefler.
In September of that year, Nouvel retaliated by filing a counterclaim against Pitt and seeking $350 million in damages.
Pitt’s legal team claims Shefler – whose business empire owns the Stolichnaya vodka brand – was desperate to cash in on the star’s “Hollywood stardom”.
The new court documents allege that the businessman wanted to “talk his way into a partnership between Pitt and Jolie – two California-based celebrities – in order to profit from Pitt’s fame.”
The documents also show a sample of correspondence sent by Shefler to Pitt on December 11, 2021.
They state: “He apologized for ‘surprising Pitt by entering his Miraval empire’ and asked Pitt to ‘trust and rely on me’ as his new ‘partner.’
“But,” Shefler warns, “if Pitt does not comply with his wishes, Shefler “will protect his interests and will not hesitate to pursue this process to the end.”
“And he made good on his threat: since the transaction, Shefler has used Nouvel – the Californian company he now controls – to sue Pitt and attempt a hostile takeover of Château Miraval. »
Shefler says the California court does not have jurisdiction to hear a full trial in this case.
His legal team has previously described Pitt as “an actor, not a winemaker” and added that he “deals in illusions, not soil and grapes.”
At the same time, a European court recently reportedly handed Pitt a partial victory by stripping Shefler of 10% of his shares, making Pitt the majority shareholder.
The court in Luxembourg – where Château Miraval’s holding company is based – entrusted control of the shares offered by Pitt to Jolie in 2013 to a court-appointed receiver.
Pitt and Jolie purchased the 1,300-acre estate in Provence, southern France, in 2008 for $28.4 million and married there in 2014.
The vineyard has been very profitable and has even produced an award-winning rosé.
The former Hollywood power couple – who share six children – split in 2016 but have yet to finalize their divorce.
It is believed a final settlement could be near after the pair submitted financial documents to the court last week.