Mischa Barton is used to onscreen drama, but personally she's in a battle with her mother claiming much of her career earnings have been withheld. In a suit filed on Tuesday, the actress says mom Nuala Barton has exploited her fame and taken her money.
Sounding like a storyline out of the 29-year-old's hit show The O.C, Mischa describes her mother as "greedy" and refers to herself as an "unsuspecting victim." The complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court read: "This action arises from the tragic tale of a greedy stage mother posing as a talent manager who, instead of acting in the best interest of her daughter/client, schemed to defraud her unsuspecting victim. It also says her mother was in breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and conversion.
Starting her career at age 8, the actress relied on her mother to make financial and managerial decisions – something she now regrets. "From the outset, Nuala positioned herself to siphon her daughter’s hard-earned money by purportedly acting as her talent manager – a role for which Nuala had absolutely no experience or training," Alex Weingarten, Mischa's lawyer, told PEOPLE. The claims say she exclusively controlled Mischa's finances and only "doled out an ‘allowance’ to Barton at her sole discretion and on a sporadic basis."
The papers note that Mischa was essentially tricked into purchasing a $7.8 million Beverly Hills home that "would be a vehicle for which Barton could invest her growing income for acting services." In the process, Nuala assigned herself half-ownership of the property and currently resides there without Mischa. "Nuala and Barton’s father currently reside comfortably in the $7.8 million home," read the complaint. "Barton is not welcome at the property." Apparently, neither Nuala nor Barton's father Paul have had an independent career for over a decade.
If that wasn't enough, the popular star says she was lied to about her salary for acting in the horror film The Hoarder "so that she could pocket the difference — on top of her hefty management fee — all without Barton’s knowledge." In addition, Mischa was allegedly signed on to various endorsements without being told and her mother created a fashion boutique and handbag line without compensating the beauty.
"Nuala currently refuses to provide Barton with any of the funds she earned (and continues to earn in the form of residual payments) for her acting, modeling and endorsement services," the complaint continued. "These revelations of exploitation and fraud, coupled with ongoing instances of bullying and verbal abuse, eventually led to the breakdown of Barton and Nuala's personal and professional relationship.”
The Sixth Sense actress, who is now with “a reputable talent manager" at APA and LINK, is not just seeking the missing money, but triple the amount the court finds her mother to have withheld.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nuala's attorney Lawrence Ecoff of Ecoff Landsberg says neither he nor Nuala have received the complaint and they declined to comment.