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posted by Erin Carlson - Thu Feb 17 2011, 3:24 PM PST
Angela Weiss/Getty Images Oksana Grigorieva wanted $20 million from Mel Gibson in exchange for keeping her secretly recorded -- and terrifying -- audio tapes of the actor's infamous, bigoted rant private. Though her side of the story is that she wasn't asking for the money as part of a hush deal, but rather making good on what she, as mother of Gibson's child, is owed.
An article in today's Los Angeles Times exposes previously unknown communications and new details about the secret legal negotiations that led to one of the nastiest court battles in Hollywood history. Gibson and Grigorieva continue to spar over custody of their baby daughter, Lucia, and attorneys for both have been urged by a judge to avoid the media since the exes' dirty laundry -- including those terrible tapes -- leaked onto Radar Online, TMZ and other outlets on a continuous loop.
And now, the origin story:
According to the Times,, which reviewed texts, emails and documents pertaining to the case, it all began a year ago -- literally, it was in February of 2010 -- when Grigorieva sought a lawyer after Gibson told her she needed representation as he was preparing to add their baby, Lucia, to his estate plan.
Grigorieva -- a Russian singer whom Gibson began dating while still married to ex-wife Robyn -- was "not entitled to any of the actor's fortune under the terms of a 2009 cohabitation agreement that said she would get only a year's free rent in a Sherman Oaks home Gibson owned and a Dodge Charger if they split," the Times reports.
So the singer -- armed with the tapes and photos -- assembled a legal team that met with his lawyers to hash out a settlement. She initially asked for $20 million but he offered $18 million. They eventually agreed on a $16 million deal in May. The deal included joint child custody, $11 million toward Lucia, and, for Grigorieva, more than $5 million and, just to sweeten the deal, a Steinway piano from Gibson's Malibu home.
Grigorieva later reneged, claiming she was coerced into signing the agreement. The case is still at family court.
Meanwhile, amid the back-and-forth, Gibson and Grigorieva had kept in touch with a faint glimmer of reconciliation.
"You don't call. You don't accept my invitation to come. You hand tapes around & jeopardize us all," he texted Grigorieva on the day his team legal team was offering her an $18 million settlement.
Her reply: "I wouldn't have played ur messages if u were keeping ur word."
While Grigorieva was traveling in Russia last April, he emailed to tell her he had given their daughter, Lucia, a glow-in-the-dark rosary. "I have said prayers for you too," he wrote.
So, kinda like a lot of confused/confusing texts and emails exes send after breakups, only much, much more ill-advised.
As of right now, the deal remains unsettled (in more ways than one), and allegations of extortion on Grigorieva's part persist. Her lawyers insist she really just loved Gibson and that they are just doing what lawyers do: negotiate for money.
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