The tale of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, the Russian-Israeli billionaire and the £120m French winery was already one of divorce, drama and intrigue.
Now, a bizarre new detail regarding why Brad was desperate to cling on to an award-winning vineyard has emerged: he believed the thousand-acre estate held buried treasure.
The A-list couple bought the Château de Miraval vineyard for a snip at £30m in 2008, but after they divorced in 2016 Jolie sold her shares to Yuri Shefler, a Russian-Israeli wine mogul said to be worth £1.5bn.
Pitt’s lawyers alleged in June that Jolie deliberately tried to harm her ex by ditching shares she’d supposedly promised never to sell to Shefler, who would go on to launch a hostile takeover. (A spokesperson for Jolie denied the claims, telling People magazine Pitt’s lawyers were setting out a ‘false narrative’).
Pitt says he was approached a few years ago by a man who explained to him that the château was supposedly home to another fortune: millions of dollars’ worth of gold that one of the estate’s mediaeval owners had taken from the Levant during the Crusades and buried on the grounds. ‘I got obsessed,’ Pitt told Moshfegh. ‘Like for a year, this was all I could think about, just the excitement of it all.’ He bought radar equipment and scoured his property. ‘Maybe it has something to do with where I grew up, because in the Ozark Mountains there were always stories of hidden caches of gold.’
Inevitably, the dig was a bust. Pitt says the man who’d approached him was ultimately seeking money for some kind of radar company; an investment opportunity, he was told. The whole thing went nowhere and Pitt was left feeling a little surprised that he’d let himself believe in the idea. The entire experience was, he says, ‘pretty foolish in the end. It was just the hunt that was exciting.’ A Hollywood man can dream, Brad.