Just days after learning that the frivolous defamation suit he brought against President Trump on Stormy Daniels' behalf (though she says he did it against her wishes) could cost his client hundreds of thousands of dollars, Michael Avenatti was ordered by a Southern California judge Tuesday to liquidate some of his assets in order to pay his hefty back child and spousal support.
"Although the total amount Avenatti owes is unclear, he was previously ordered to pay more than $150,000 a month in child and spousal support," AP reports. "In Tuesday’s order, Henson said Avenatti must pay at least $80,000 to Lisa Storie-Avenatti on top of the transferred assets by Jan. 2. Among those assets are a 2017 Ferrari GT Spider, five watches including a Rolex that retails for $12,000, a sculpture by famed architect Frank Gehry and a six-seat business jet worth millions."
Avenatti's lawyer downplayed the judge's order, saying such asset transfers are standard procedure in divorce cases.
The order comes amid a tumultuous few weeks for Avenatti, who announced earlier this week that he'd decided not to run for president in 2020 after months of build-up. The announcement came amid a public meltdown between Avenatti and Daniels, who accused him in a statement to The Daily Beast last week of having brought the failed defamation case against Trump against her wishes and having abused their crowdfunding efforts. Legal experts say that if Daniels' accusations about the defamation case are correct, he could end up facing a lawsuit.
On Monday, Trump's legal team gave U.S. District Judge S. James Otero the bill for their legal services for the defamation case. Their legal fees amounted to about $340,000, but the lawyers say the extraordinary circumstances of the case, including both Daniels' and Avenatti's publicity-seeking antics, merit a doubling of the penalty. They're asking for a total of $778,806. In October, the judge tossed out Daniels and Avenatti's suit and ordered them to pay for Trump's legal fees. Whether the judge will order them to pay as much as Trump's team recommends remains to be seen, but it's doubtful.
Avenatti's legal and financial woes ramped up back in October, when a California judge ruled against him in a lawsuit accusing him of failing to make good on a past settlement agreement. Law & Crime provides some background:
[Avenatti's ex-colleague Jason] Frank claimed that when he worked with Avenatti’s former firm Eagan Avenatti, he had an independent contractor arrangement that said he would receive 25% of the firm’s annual profits and 20% of his client’s fees. Frank said he was also supposed to get copies of the firm’s tax returns and other financial records. His lawsuit, filed in May of this year, alleged that the firm didn’t provide the records, misstated what their profits were, and didn’t pay him the amount due to him. In February 2016 he filed a demand to go to arbitration, and resigned from the firm months later.
After Eagen Avenatti filed for involuntary bankruptcy, which the judge said had "a stench of impropriety" and was dismissed in March 2018, the two sides settled in December 2017, the firm agreeing to pay Frank $4.85 million. Frank sued when he didn't receive the money by the deadline. Soon after that ruling, Avenatti lost another legal battle: Eagen Avenatti was evicted from its offices in Newport Beach for failing to pay 4 months rent.