There’s a particularly poignant moment in a lengthy new report about the bitter, years-long breakup of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The moment takes place on Tuesday, Sept.13, 2016, at Chateau Miraval, the beloved family retreat in the South of France that Pitt and Jolie purchased in 2007, according to Vanity Fair. Pitt, Jolie and their six children came together at the estate, for what someone called “the Last Supper” before the family “flew off into ruin.”
That is, before the family took an infamous private plane ride back to the United States, during which, allegedly, a heavily intoxicated Pitt became angry and violent to Jolie and some of their children — prompting Jolie to file for divorce, followed by an investigation by the FBI and one of the most protracted and combustible divorces in Hollywood history.
The former Hollywood super couple are currently embroiled in a legal dispute over the fate of Chateau Miraval and its lucrative business of producing award-winning Miraval Rosé. Jolie wants to sell her share of the business, saying in a 2021 letter to Pitt that she has fond memories of the estate but that she no longer wants to be tied to “a business that is centered around alcohol” and a place associated with the beginning of the end of their family, Vanity Fair writer Mark Seal reported.
Jolie was willing to sell her half of the estate to Pitt, but the deal stalled over various issues, including Pitt’s move to insert an NDA that would prevent the “Maleficent” star from talking publicly about Pitt’s actions on the plane ride in September 2016, Vanity Fair said.
The day before that plane ride, Pitt and Jolie each traveled to Chateau Miraval “from far-flung locales,” according to Vanity Fair. “The family came together on the lawn overlooking the new soccer field, beneath the gaze of stone cupids and ancient olive trees. They ate dinner at a long outdoor table,” Seal wrote.
If the setting sounds idyllic, that was all by the couple’s design for the life they were trying to create for themselves and their children, Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Vivienne and Knox, who at the time ranged in ages from 15 to 8.
The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star said he wanted to make the estate “a European base for our family … where our kids could run free and not be subjected to the celebrity of Hollywood.” Seal described the estate as a “wonderland” of vineyards, olive and oak trees, lavender fields, a lake and ancient stone buildings.
Pitt and U.N. special envoy Jolie purchased the estate before the birth of their twins. The former owner, Tom Bove, told Vanity Fair that he watched an “armada” of vehicles, “vans and vans,” bring the family’s possessions. A contingent of staff also arrived: “nannies, from Vietnam, the Congo, and the U.S.,” according to one published source, along with two personal assistants; “a cook; a maid; two cleaners; a plongeur, or busboy; (and) four close-protection bodyguards.”
Extensive renovations began immediately to make the property, with its 35-room manor house, “more Californian as opposed to Provençal,” Vanity Fair said. The report also details how Pitt ordered “a wildly expensive” lacquered desk for Jolie to be installed in her office in their new home.
“He thought the world of that woman,” said Gary Bradbury, head of security at Miraval told Vanity Fair. Miraval was Pitt’s “love letter to his wife and his children, providing a beautiful life for Angelina and the kids,” the desk’s designer, Frank Polar, also said. Pitt and Jolie loved Miraval so much they used it as the setting for their wedding in 2014, for which the six children wrote the vows and decorated their mother’s dress.
Pitt also reportedly took the lead on working with a top French winemaker to transform the rustic retreat into a lucrative commercial enterprise centered around Miraval Rosé, whose revenues reached $50 million in 2021, Vanity Fair said.
The Vanity Fair report said tensions between Pitt and Jolie “had been boiling for about a year” before the plane ride. Bradbury and other associates said they had never seen Pitt intoxicated, but it became clear he had been drinking quite a bit before and during their flight back to the United States..
According to Jolie’s complaint and a redacted FBI report made public last year, Pitt’s “fuse” was lit before they arrived at the airport, when he had a “confrontation with one of the children,” believed to be Maddox, Vanity Fair reported. After takeoff, Pitt allegedly “accused (Jolie) of being too deferential to the children,” while a source close to Pitt said he felt Jolie “was trying to drive a wedge between him and his kids.”
Over the next few hours, Pitt allegedly became more agitated, pulling his wife into the bathroom and yelling at her, Vanity Fair reported. He allegedly grabbed her “by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again.” When the children asked Jolie if she was OK, Pitt allegedly responded, “Mommy’s not OK. She’s ruining this family. She’s crazy.”
When one of the children confronted Pitt, he lunged at the child, Vanity Fair said. Jolie tried to intervene but he allegedly threw her off, causing injuries to her back and elbow.
During the confrontation, Pitt also allegedly choked one of the children and struck another in the face, the Vanity Fair reported. During the remainder of the flight, Pitt continued to rant, and at one point allegedly poured beer on Jolie and the children as they tried to sleep under blankets.
Since the plane ride, Pitt and Jolie’s legal battles have long centered on custody of the children. Jolie opposed joint custody, citing Pitt’s actions on the plane ride. Although an FBI agent provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office with a copy of a probable cause statement related to the report, Pitt was never charged and the investigation was closed.
Pitt publicly expressed remorse for letting his drinking get out of hand, though he never spoke specifically about what happened during the flight. In interviews, he talked about attending an Alcoholics Anonymous men’s group to get a handle on his problems with anger management.
A source close to the actor told Vanity Fair “he absolutely was wrong in how he behaved but immediately apologized and acknowledged that he had crossed a line, which he will always regret, and right away took steps to address this and try to make amends.”
A judge in a private trial ruled in favor of joint custody in 2021. But Jolie continued to press her case that domestic violence should be considered in determining custody. After a state appellate court agreed to vacate the private judge’s ruling on joint custody, the couple’s battle over custody seemed to die down, as three of the children have reached adulthood.
Now the focus is on Chateau Miraval. Earlier this month, Pitt filed documents, accusing Jolie of “secretly” selling her share of the winery to Yuri Shefler, billionaire who owns the conglomerate Stoli Group, Entertainment Tonight reported. He called his ex-wife, “vindictive” and said she wants to “inflict harm” on him by not selling her share to him.
As Vanity Fair reported, some people close to the family see this celebrity divorce as “a story about abuse,” while someone else called it a “human tragedy.” Pitt was never known to be abusive person, this person said, but had a “breakdown,” which led to him being alienated from at least some of his children.
Someone at the chateau also expressed sadness to Vanity Fair that the children have never returned. “This (was) for the kids,” the person said. “Everything was for the kids and the family.”