The Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA, is widely known as the place where River Phoenix tragically overdosed on heroin on Halloween in 1993. It's even the subject of a Ghost Adventures episode where staff claim to hear Phoenix's voice from beyond the grave. What most people don't know is that the club's seedy reputation goes deeper than ghost stories, Hollywood gambling rings, and drug-fueled parties.
In 2001, the Viper Room was rocked by the disappearance of Anthony Fox. Almost a decade prior, Fox and Johnny Depp partnered to open the infamous club, which was frequented by Depp and his wealthy friends. The partnership quickly spiraled out of control. Fox filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Depp but disappeared days before he was scheduled to testify against the actor. Depp was eventually forced to sell his share of the business after he lost the lawsuit. Fox was never found, and the case remains open.
Many people believe that Depp had a hand in the Viper Room disappearance. Eerily enough, conspiracy theorists believe that important evidence may be resting just beneath the club's floorboards.
In 1993 Anthony Fox And Johnny Depp Partnered To Open The Viper Room
Before it became the Viper Room, Anthony Fox operated the Sunset Strip club as The Central. It was in a prime location and had potential, but Fox was failing to make a profit on the business. At the time, Hollywood didn't have a go-to celebrity nightclub like New York's Limelight or Miami's Liquid, both of which operated as exclusive hangout spaces that allowed Hollywood's hippest to dabble in drug use. In 1993, Fox finally filled that hole in the market when he partnered with Johnny Depp.
The pair renamed the club the Viper Room. The goal was to make it one of the hippest spots in Hollywood, but it quickly became a celebrity drug den. Later that year, Depp's close friend River Phoenix overdosed outside of the club, and the Viper Room's drug-addled reputation was cemented in headlines.
Fox Filed A Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Johnny Depp
Over the next few years, the Viper Room operated successfully. It kept its raunchy reputation but hosted star-studded shows and events such as burlesque nights with the Pussycat Dolls, a number of musical performances from critically acclaimed acts like John Frusciante and Johnny Cash, and even a drug-fueled 21st birthday party for Johnny Depp's then-girlfriend Kate Moss. The police were only ever brought in for the odd fight or two, and the business largely managed to stay out of headlines until Fox filed a lawsuit against Depp and former club manager Sal Jenco in 1999.
The lawsuit alleged that Depp conspired to divert millions of profits from Safe in Heaven Dead Productions, Inc., the company owned by Depp, Fox and Jenco under which the Viper Room operated. The money was shifted instead to a company owned solely by Depp and Jenco.
Fox Was Scheduled To Testify Against Depp
Fox's claims were adding up, and it appeared that he would win his lawsuit against Depp. He was set to testify against his business partner and four other people named in the suit. According to Donna Lynn, a music producer and friend of Fox, Tony was gunning for a win.
“I believe if Tony hadn’t filed the suit, he would be here today,” she told Radar. "The timing is so suspicious. Tony was about to win that lawsuit, but before he got his day in court, he vanished."
Fox Went Missing Days Before He Was Supposed To Testify
Days before 53-year-old Anthony Fox was scheduled to testify against Depp, he mysteriously vanished. On December 19, 2001, his pickup truck disappeared along with his .38 caliber revolver, which was typically hidden in his briefcase. He left several thousand dollars in his bank account, none of which has been touched since his disappearance.