Elon Musk paid nearly half of Amber Heard’s $1.3m donation to ACLU promised after Johnny Depp divorce payout

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Elon Musk paid nearly half of Amber Heard’s $1.3m donation to ACLU promised after Johnny Depp divorce payout
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Billionaire Elon Musk paid £400,000 ($500,000) of ex-girlfriend Amber Heard’s donation to a civil rights group after the actress promised to give away her multimillion dollar divorce settlement from her marriage to Johnny Depp, a court heard.

The Aquaman star, 36, publicly said she would split the £5.5 million ($7m) payout between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a children’s hospital in Los Angeles after the finalisation of her split from Depp in 2016.

But the former couple’s libel battle was told yesterday that the ACLU has so far received just over £1 million ($1.3m), including £400,000 ($500,000) from Tesla founder Musk, $100,000 from Depp himself, $350,000 from Heard, and another $350,000 from a fund at investment firm Fidelity.

Terence Dougherty, ACLU’s Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, said they were told in correspondence with Musk that the full $3.5 million donation would be paid over ten years.

Amber Heard and Elon Musk dated for a year following the actress’s divorce from Johnny Depp. (@CreepyPuppet and @CowanFilms)
Amber Heard and Elon Musk dated for a year following the actress’s divorce from Johnny Depp. (@CreepyPuppet and @CowanFilms)

“We reached out to Miss Heard starting in 2019 for the next instalment of her giving, and we learned she was having financial difficulties”, he told the Fairfax County court.

Heard and Musk dated for a year following the actress’s divorce from Depp.

The actress’ lawyers have told the court she intends to honour the full pledge to the ACLU, but currently needs money to cover her legal fees.

The libel battle between Depp, 58, and Heard centres on a 2018 op-ed piece for the Washington Post, in which Heard describes herself as a victim of violence and sexual abuse.

Jurors have heard the ACLU was instrumental in the creation of the article, with Robin Shulman, a communications strategist with the ACLU, telling Heard in November 2018 that she had tried to “gather your fire and rage” in a first draft of the op-ed piece.

A honeymoon photo appears on a monitor during the 50 million US dollar Depp vs Heard defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A honeymoon photo appears on a monitor during the 50 million US dollar Depp vs Heard defamation trial at the Fairfax County Circuit Court (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The article was reviewed by lawyers for the ACLU and Heard to help the actress avoid legal difficulties, including honouring a non-disclosure agreement she had signed with Depp after their divorce, and it was timed to coincide with Heard’s appearance in the Aquaman movie.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star is suing for $50 million, claiming the op-ed effectively accused him of domestic abuse and derailed his Hollywood career. Heard is countersuing for $100 million.

Earlier, Depp’s bodyguard Malcolm Connolly testified about scratches and marks he saw on Depp’s face during the marriage, a relationship he said went from “lovey-dovey” to a series of arguments.

“Amber started to change. Amber started getting a bit more feisty, demanding. I could see that Amber wanted to wear the pants in this relationship. That was pretty obvious”, he said.

Actor Johnny Depp returns following a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court (AP)
Actor Johnny Depp returns following a break at the Fairfax County Circuit Court (AP)

Mr Connolly said he never witnessed any violence, but told the court he had overheard rows and seen injuries to Depp: “What I noticed straight away was most of these marks were happening on the left hand side of his face.

“There would be scratches on his neck. Maybe a fat lip in the corner, a bruising in the eye socket. It was getting more regular. Not every week, but it was definitely happening.”

Johnny Depp v Amber Heard defamation lawsuit at the County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virgina (2022)

A photo taken by the bodyguard of Depp and Heard with Orient Express staff on their 2013 honeymoon was shown in court, as Mr Connolly identified “visible injuries and swelling” on the actor’s face.

“Either he’s walked into a door, or a door has walked into him”, he remarked.

The trial continues.

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