With the Bezos divorce finalized we now have a new winner in the dubious category of the most expensive divorces of all time. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos are the clear winners (or it is really losers?) in the divorce battles and it is hard to think that they will ever lose that title. MacKenzie’s final settlement of $35.6 billion is enough to make her instantly the 4th richest woman on the planet and the 25th richest person in the world. Her ex-husband remains the world’s richest person with his $114 billion – $14 billion more than Bill Gates.
Divorce is difficult enough. Now add fame and wealth to that mess. The division of wealth and assets in the absence of a prenup can be devastating to one or both parties in the divorce. For celebrities, divorce proceedings can drag on for years in the courts and in the press. Besides money, there is property, alimony, child support, child visitation, and more to work out. Fortunately, Jeff and MacKenzie appear to have had a pretty amicable divorce, all things considered. It was just 85 days between the public announcement of their divorce and the finalization of it.
When Jeff and MacKenzie got married, they didn’t have two pennies to rub together. They didn’t have a prenup. Mackenzie was basically entitled to half of the $150 billion Amazon fortune. However, it was always highly unlikely that the former couple would choose a 50/50 split of their fortune. Most of Jeff’s net worth is tied up in Amazon stock. Dividing the shares would dilute his control of Amazon. Ultimately, this isn’t what the couple decided to do.
These are the nine most expensive divorces of all time. There is one asterisk on this list, however. In the original divorce settlement between Russian billionaire oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev and his ex-wife Elena, she was awarded $4.5 billion, which was 50% of the value of his fertilizer business. Seven years of legal battles ensued, and the couple settled for terms that were not disclosed, but we can assume it was far less than $4.5 billion and yet, definitely enough to be on this list. We just don’t know where.
Here are the nine most expensive divorces of all time with a new #1.
Bob Johnson and Sheila Crump Johnson, 2002: $400 Million
The Johnsons are the co-founders of BET. They divorced in 2002 after 33 years of marriage. After receiving her $400 million settlement, Sheila went on to marry the judge that presided over her divorce.
Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore, 2006: $425 Million
Remember when Mel Gibson couldn’t stop running his mouth about how he felt about traffic cops and Jewish people? That was one step in the process of his wife of 21 years, Robyn Moore, leaving him. The divorce is still the most expensive split in Hollywood. Robyn walked away with $425 million.
Craig McCaw and Wendy McCaw, 1997: $460 Million
Nextel executive Craig McCaw paid his ex, newspaper publisher Wendy McCaw, $460 million worth of Nextel stock when they split up after 23 years of marriage in 1997.
Adnan Khashoggi and Soraya Khashoggi, 1980: $874 Million
Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi married Soraya in 1961. Nearly two decades later the couple was in divorce court. If you take inflation into account, the $874 million paid out in this 1980 divorce settlement would be worth some $2 billion today.
Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall, 2012: $975 Million
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his ex Sue Ann Arnall had a drawn out bitter divorce after 26 years of marriage that ended with Hamm writing his ex a check for nearly $1 billion. Sue Ann didn’t cash the check right away as she was hoping for more money. Reportedly she finally cashed the check in 2015.
Steve Wynn and Elaine Wynn, 2010: $1 Billion
Steve and Elaine Wynn married in 1963 and divorced the first time in 1986. They remarried each other in 1991 and got divorced for the second and final time in 2010. Elaine was integral in the building of the Wynn casino and resort empire. She walked away with $1 billion.
Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radić, 2009: $1.2 Billion
Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone has received more than half a billion dollars from his ex-wife’s trust fund. Ecclestone and Slavica were married for 24 years. She is 28 years younger, and when they divorced it was assumed the more than $1 billion settlement was in her favor. After all, typically the wealthier spouse is the one who pays their ex, and Ecclestone, with a net worth of $3.1 billion, is plenty wealthy. The unusual structure of his divorce settlement isn’t that surprising, given how his finances are structured.
In the late 1990s, Ecclestone’s assets were transferred into Slavica’s name when he was suffering from serious heart problems. He had a triple bypass in 1999. If he had died, the inheritance he would have left his daughters would have been subjected to British death duties at the rate of 40%. So, while Ecclestone has a net worth in the billions, his ex-wife technically holds the deeds and pink slips on a number of his assets, and as such, is left holding the proverbial bag. Because of this, it looked like she was the wealthier one to the courts and is required to pay her billionaire ex $100 million per year.
Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv, 1999: $1.7 Billion
Rupert Murdoch was married to Anna Torv for 31 years. Their split was reported to be amicable and stemmed from an argument over whether or not (or possibly when) Rupert would retire. He got married again 17 days after the divorce papers were signed. Anna was married again six months later.
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos, 2019, $35.6 billion
In the dissolution of the nearly 25 year marriage of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, she is walking away with $35.6 billion of Amazon stock – over which she has agreed to let Jeff retain voting control. MacKenzie is now the third-largest shareholder in Amazon with about 4% of Amazon’s outstanding shares. She is also giving up any right to The Washington Post and to Jeff’s space exploration company Blue Origin. Even after losing $36 billion, Jeff’s remaining $114 billion net worth is still enough to keep him as the richest person in the world.