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Why Wouldn’t Johnny Depp Pay $3 Million for a Hunter S. Thompson Cannon?

A short journey through some ridiculous financial decisions

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

Maybe you’ve heard: Johnny Depp, who is what a North Florida Olive Garden would be if a genie granted it human form, is in some financial trouble. After suing his former business advisers for $25 million — claiming they cost him millions of dollars due to professional negligence — Depp is being countersued in a humiliating fashion. Depp’s old business managers at The Management Group (with a name like that, it’s a good thing they’re a management firm and not, like, a firm that names things) fired back, alleging in the countersuit that Depp, who starred in Mortdecai, spends $2 million a month on a grocery list that strains credulity, even where Depp is concerned.

According to the TMG countersuit, Depp, a paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye with a goatee, spent $30,000 a month on wines, dumped $4 million into a friend’s failed music label, paid $1 million just to archive an extensive collection of celebrity memorabilia, maintained a staff of 40 full-time employees, and financed, at the cost of $3 million, a memorial service for Hunter S. Thompson in which Thompson’s ashes were fired out of a specially made cannon.

Go back and read that last bit again if you need to.

It’s actually quite admirable that Depp, an ancient spirit brought to life by the ferocity with which 16-year-old boys who just smoked weed for the first time like Pink Floyd, apparently shelled out (so to speak) for Thompson’s funeral. Depp and Thompson were friends ever since Depp played Thompson’s alter ego in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and it was Thompson’s request that his remains be disposed of by cannonade. We should all be so lucky.

Risible though his expenditures have been, there’s really no point to being rich and famous in a tasteful manner. The reason the Hunter S. Thompson cannon story is so funny is that of course the ashes being shot out of the cannon belonged to Hunter S. Thompson, and not, say, Peter Jennings, or even David Foster Wallace. Hunter S. Thompson’s influence on modern journalism and pop culture looms over us like the 153-foot-tall tower Depp had constructed to house the cannon he shot Thompson’s ashes out of; it is not surprising that luminaries like then-Senator John Kerry and Jack Nicholson were there to witness his cannon-ash ceremony. (True story.) But there are the people who have heard of Hunter S. Thompson and the people who are, like, really into Hunter S. Thompson — like Depp, who is apparently what Brewster’s Millions would’ve turned into if Montgomery Brewster were really into Hunter S. Thompson.

Which explains a lot. Like why, despite batting about .120 on his films over the past 15 years, Depp, who’s like if your dad went to Bonnaroo with you, has no fewer than 10 films in the works. If you’re going to spend $18 million on a yacht and $200,000 a month on private planes, you’ve got to go to the office every day, much to the peril of the international moviegoing public. This is how we end up with announcements like “Johnny Depp Is Replacing Colin Farrell in the Fantastic Beasts Franchise.” (Swapping out Colin Farrell for Depp, who is Nicolas Cage for people who went to a liberal arts college, is such a bad trade that the Philadelphia 76ers now have the right to swap first-round picks with J.K. Rowling in 2018 and 2019.) Blame the 45 luxury vehicles sitting in a garage on one of Johnny Depp’s Bahamas islands.

Given recent events — a contentious divorce from Amber Heard, with since-dismissed allegations of domestic abuse — it would be best for everyone if Depp took some time off. Maybe Depp, a man who looks like he likes telling people how good House of Leaves was, might even find some perspective in that hole he dug in the desert in that ridiculous cologne ad. But given that his leaky checkbook is going to need even more shoring up after this latest lawsuit, that doesn’t look likely. Not that Depp, a knockoff Eames chair upholstered in velour, can even hear the sound of his own embarrassment over the deafening cacophony of cannon fire.