The actor/director, 60, and Russian songstress, 46, went through an acrimonious split six years ago that resulted in a settlement offer at one point reportedly worth $15 million. But the release of secretly recorded audio tapes featuring private conversations between the former couple – and later Grigorieva’s decision to address domestic violence allegations against Gibson on The Howard Stern Show – has left the singer entitled to just 1/60 of what she was originally owed.
In light of this week’s ruling, we’re looking back at what led to the couple’s explosive separation, and how it has continued to threaten both party’s wallets – and reputations – for years after the split.
The Beginning of the End
Gibson and Grigorieva first emerged as a couple after Gibson’s wife of nearly 30 years, Robyn, 54, filed for divorce in 2009. Grigorieva “truly loved Mel,” a friend told PEOPLE, who noted that Grigorieva converted to Catholicism for the actor. “Until she saw who he really was and what he was capable of.”
In a restraining order request filed June 25, 2010, the Russian singer alleged that the actor punched her in the face “more than once” on Jan. 6, 2010, causing a broken tooth, knocking out a veneer and causing a concussion.
“I thought he would kill me,” Grigorieva told PEOPLE.
Gibson later admitted to slapping her in order to restrain her from allegedly “shaking [their baby] Lucia back and forth,” but denies his ex’s account of the events.
“I slapped Oksana one time with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality,” Gibson said in a sworn statement obtained by TMZ. “I did not slap her hard. I was just trying to shock her so that she would stop screaming, continuing shaking Lucia back and forth.”
The Jan. 6, 2010 incident led to a domestic violence investigation against Gibson, dueling restraining orders and the continuation of their custody dispute over the course of the summer. But the most shocking twist occurred that July, when an audiotape in which Gibson can be heard unleashing a profanity-laced tirade against Grigorieva hit the internet.
Ultimately, six tapes, which Grigorieva denies releasing, were leaked to the public. They include the actor using the N-word and other derogatory phrases, as well as angry rants against his ex for everything from her “tight clothes” to her “fake boobs.”
In addition to the embarrassing tapes, revealing e-mails and text messages were released that exposed secret negotiations that failed to keep the tapes private. At one point the actor had agreed to pay $15 million to keep the tapes under wraps, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
Gibson was ultimately sentenced to three years’ probation, counseling and community service in 2011 after pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of domestic violence dating back to the incident on Jan. 6, 2010. Additionally, an extortion investigation over the release of the audiotapes resulted in no charges being filed against Grigorieva, according to Los Angeles Times.
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The $500,000 Mistake
Part of the 2011 custody agreement reportedly stated that Grigorieva would forfeit her right to the remaining settlement money if she publicly discussed the allegations. And according to a new court ruling, that’s exactly what she did during a 2013 appearance on the The Howard Stern Show.
The settlement amount of $750,000 plus child support was supposed to be paid out in three installments, and Gibson had already paid Grigorieva $250,000 at the time she went on The Howard Stern Show. He is now no longer obligated to pay the outstanding balance.
In her interview with Howard Stern, portions of which were excerpted in the court documents, the host told her: “Anyone who’s been through what you’ve been through with [Gibson], you got to be full of hope, because it’s the only way to be. You got to look ahead.” To which she replied: “You know what? You have to embrace your experience and even – it doesn’t matter how painful it might be at the time, and that darker experience, learn from it, hopefully …”
Although the court found that Grigorieva did “not make the explicit statement” that Gibson “committed domestic violence” during her interview with Stern, “her response to Stern’s statement about what she had ‘been through with [Gibson]’ when taken in context with the ‘interview as a whole,’ clearly implie[d] that [Grigorieva] suffered domestic violence at the hands of [Gibson],” according to the court documents.
The documents also state that “the court rejected [Grigorieva’s] complaint that she was not responsible for what Stern said during the interview, reasoning that the Settlement Agreement did ‘not permit her the luxury of fostering, inferring or in any way contributing to the notion that she was the victim of domestic violence’ by [Gibson].”