Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s lighting designer sues over unpaid bills on $53M chateau

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (credit: Georges Biard)

There are three things Hollywood stars rely on to make themselves look their best: a good plastic surgeon, a good pair of spanx and very, very good lighting.

As if you needed any evidence of that last one, consider an ongoing lawsuit between the (ex) couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and their lighting designer, Odile Soudant.

Jolie and Pitt hired Soudant to work on the renovation of their $53 million, 17th-century French estate, Chateau Miravel. The renovation was extensive (and expensive) and reportedly included adding a gym, spa, wine rack and motorcycle track to the home. They hired starchitect Jean Nouvel to oversee the work, and he in turn hired Soudant to design the lighting.

Soudant says she did not sign a contract with Jolie or Pitt, but billed their company every month for her services, which included hiring an optical engineer “to calculate the angle of the sun’s rays on the chateau.”

Soudant claimed in a confidential lawsuit she filed earlier this year that Jolie and Pitt eventually stopped paying her bills. She isn’t sure why that happened, but did include emails from Pitt with her suit that he sent after she hadn’t been paid and so stopped working. One of them read, “I don’t know how things happen in France but in the United States, friends don’t attack friends. I’ve been nothing but a fan of your work. Do not attack. Let’s finish the project and be proud of it. The work is too good to end on a bad note. Life is too short, my friend.”

Life is too short to not be paid either, but alas…

In April, Soudant was awarded €565,000 by a French court as back-compensation. Though the initial suit was confidential, Soudant is coming out about the details in it now because she wants to redeem her reputation. After she stopped working, the project was handed over to a former employee of Soudant’s, and Soudant says she is fighting to be recognized as its true artist.

In a statement to Vanity Fair, Pitt’s representatives had a slightly different take. “We respect the Court’s decision resolving this long running, standard dispute over payment of invoices … This narrow ruling does not address any copyright issues involving [lighting] designs developed by Brad and has no connection to Chateau Miraval.“ [Guardian] and [VF]