Opinion: Who Could Lose More Money - Johnny Depp or Amber Heard?

Mark Hake

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, formerly husband and wife, are in the middle of a knock-down, drag-out public lawsuit in Virginia. He sued her in Fairfax, VA in a defamation trial over an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post. She is counter-suing, and the whole thing has become quite a spectacle.

But for financial analysts like me, the interesting thing is who stands to lose more? Apparently, Depp is worth more. For example, he is reportedly worth about $150 million but Amber Heard is worth much less, about $8 million or so. It could be significantly less, given how expensive her lawyers probably are now.

Celebrity Net Worth says that Depp makes $20 million per film. But the problem is no one wants to see his films while he is in the news suing his ex-wife. She is accusing him of abuse. so he lost a number of contracts, including the important Disney Pirates movie franchise films. So in a way, he has much more to lose than Amber Heard.

Depp's Cash Flow

Moreover, reports in numerous celebrity rags are that he spends money like a prodigal son. CNBC reported in 2018 that he spent as much as $2 million a month on living expenses. That means that, if keeps that up for one year, he could spend through $24 to $25 million.

Now, assuming he can make 10% in realized gains and/or interest and dividends on his $150 million in net worth, he might have a cash inflow of $15 million each year. That leaves a deficit of $10 million each year. And after legal fees, that might be $12 to $15 million he needs to raise each year.

So, you can see this is roughly the amount of money one new film project (after taxes) will bring him a year. In effect, Depp needs to win this lawsuit so that he can recover the earning power that is needed to handle his annual cash outflow.

Otherwise, he will have to start liquidating his net worth. In 10 to 15 years, he could be down to just $5 to $10 million. Of course, that assumes he keeps spending money prolifically and doesn't lower expenses. It also assumes that he can't make a high-paying movie if he loses this lawsuit. These are gigantic assumptions that are not likely to come to pass. Nevertheless, they show that, at least in theory, Depp has a lot to lose here.

Amber Heard Is All In

It's much more likely that Amber Heard is "all-in" here, using the poker term. I suspect that most of her net worth could be on the line, between her legal and related expenses. She also needs to win in order to resuscitate her earning power as a movie star. Who is going to hire her, if she loses a defamation suit and has to pay Depp a gigantic sum of money?

On the other hand, maybe just getting this suit over with will allow her to refocus on her acting career again. People will forget her legal troubles over time. They will watch her movies if she is a good actress. She just has to get out of the headlines in order to get hired.

The bottom line here is that both have a lot to lose. But on balance, Amber Heard has much more to lose than Depp, in terms of an effect on her net worth.

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This is not financial advice and you should not rely on my analysis to buy or sell any stock. I am not undertaking to induce you to buy or sell any securities.

I am relying on the “publisher’s exclusion” in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to provide this information without any personalized or individualized investment advice.

Mark Hake writes articles on InvestorPlace.com, Barchart.com, Medium.com, and Newsbreak.com on stocks and cryptos.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ
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