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French designer in costly dispute over Pitt-Jolie chateau


An aerial view taken on May 31, 2008 in Le Val, southeastern France, shows the Chateau Miraval, a vineyard estate owned by US businessman Tom Bove. US actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are relocating to the chateau, a local official told AFP

MICHEL GANGNE | AFP | Getty Images

An aerial view taken on May 31, 2008 in Le Val, southeastern France, shows the Chateau Miraval, a vineyard estate owned by US businessman Tom Bove. US actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are relocating to the chateau, a local official told AFP

A French lighting designer has won a $600,000 court ruling in a dispute with Brad Pitt over the re-design of the chateau in Provence that he and Angelina Jolie shared. But designer Odile Soudant isn’t stopping there.

Soudant says her business went under and her career was irreparably damaged because of Pitt’s refusal to pay for costly architectural reveries. She’s now fighting for the intellectual property rights to the Chateau Miraval’s lighting design.

Pitt’s representatives argue the project was late and over-budget and the disputed lighting design was Pitt’s brainchild — not hers.

Soudant’s legal actions are the latest challenge for Pitt, who is in protracted divorce proceedings with Jolie.

Chateau Miraval is a symbol of happier times in the couple’s relationship. They stayed at the sprawling 17th century estate when she gave birth to their twins in nearby Monaco in 2008, launched a successful wine venture from its rich vineyards, and married there in 2014.

Soon after they bought Miraval, nestled in the rolling, wooded hills near the village of Correns, Pitt sought out designers to re-envision it for the 21st century. Soudant and her company, Lumieres Studio, were tasked with the lighting, notably taking better advantage of the sunshine in Provence, she told The Associated Press. She called natural light an “obsession” with Pitt.

Unusually, she says she never supplied or was given a contract.

“I had unlimited time and unlimited budget….They said, ‘If you ask for more, we’ll give you more.”

A representative for Pitt contests this, and says there was an agreement that Soudant didn’t respect. The representative requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the legal process, would not say if the agreement was written or oral.

The renovation project grew with “delirious demands” from Pitt and more and more designers getting involved, Soudant said. She hired new staff and relegated her company’s other projects to bottom priority.

She says she had 17 employees working exclusively on the lighting for Miraval at one point.

After 3 ½ years of work, the chateau stopped paying Soudant for her services, she said. Her staff continued working on the project, she says, and her bills started piling up, notably for government payroll charges.

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