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The 10 Most Expensive Divorces in History

Jeff Bezos

After a couple gets married, ideally they're supposed to remain together as husband and wife until the end of their days. That is, after all, what the wedding vows are for. However, sometimes circumstances come about where the union seems to become a marriage from hell where the couple can no longer tolerate each other's presence. Sometimes, divorces will see a couple split up amicably, but sometimes the fighting becomes so intense that not only does the divorce proceedings become too messy, but also too financially draining. Some of the most expensive divorces in history have been constantly the ones where neither side of the argument can reach an agreement on anything. Not only does this take a financial toll on the parties involved, but an emotional one as well.

10. Craig McCaw vs. Wendy McCaw ($460 Million USD)

Craig McCaw, the founder of Cellular and Clearwire, separated from his wife of thirty years, Wendy, in 1998. Just prior to the divorce, McCaw sold his company to AT&T for $11.5 billion USD, which earned his now ex-wife a $460 million USD payout as the former husband and wife fought it out in the courts of Washington State.

9. Dmitry Rybolovlev vs. Elena Rybolovlev ($604 Million USD)

After twenty-six years of marriage, Dmitry Ryolovlev and his wife, Elena, opted to call it quits in 2008. After a seven-year court battle, the Swiss court ordered Rybolovlev to pay his ex-wife $4.5 billion USD. However, negotiations resulted in the final payout to work out at $604 million USD instead.

8. Adnan Khashoggi vs. Soraya Khashoggi ($874 Million USD)

The now-deceased Adnan Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian businessman who sold arms for the Saudi Royal Family. In 1961, he married Sandra Daly, who later converted to Islam and changed her name to Soraya Khashoggi. As a married couple, they lived a lavish lifestyle that was once featured as an article in Time Magazine. However, in 1974, the marriage came to a bitter end that saw Soraya awarded with an $874 million USD settlement. However, the ex-Khashoggi claimed out of that settlement she only received $2 million USD.

7. Harold Hamm vs. Sue Ann Arnall ($975 Million USD)

Harold Hamm is an oil tycoon that was married to Sue Ann Arnall, whose $18 billion USD net worth became threatened when the couple filed for divorce in 2014. Although the majority of this money accumulated during the near thirty-year marriage the couple had together, Harold argued most of that money was made passively before starting his relationship with his wife and felt she was not entitled to so much of it. However, Sue Ann disagreed as she turned down the $975 million USD check that was issued from the divorce settlement. She made it clear she was entitled to half of that money. However, she eventually agreed to accept the money and leave the matter alone, at least for now.

6. Steve Wynn vs. Elaine Wynn ($1 Billion USD)

It seems for Steve Wynn, who is a casino mogul, gambling on two different marriages with Elaine Wynn left him on the losing side of this costly bet. The two married the first time in 1963 but divorced in 1986 on what seemed like amicable terms. The two marry again in 1991 and stayed married until 2010. However, the second split-up was anything but amicable. So far, Elaine has been awarded $1 billion USD in Wynn Casino stock, but the fight is far from over. The dollar amount involved with this particular divorce settlement has the potential to spike much higher if Elaine Wynn has anything to say about it.

5. Bernie Ecclestone vs. Slavica Radic ($1.2 Billion USD)

Formula One executive, Bernie Ecclestone was once upon a time married to a model named Slavica Radic. In one of the strangest divorce settlements on record, Ecclestone had set up a trust fund in Slavica's name that sees him receive $100 million USD per year from who is now his ex-wife. She was also ordered to pay Ecclestone $1.2 billion USD in the settlement.

4. Bill Gross vs. Sue Gross ($1.3 Billion USD)

Co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), Bill Gross, was also the manager of the Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund. When he and his wife of thirty-one years, Sue Gross, went to divorce court, this was a bitter fight to the finish. Anything and everything that could be contested in the settlement was. The couple had three pet cats, whom they fought each other for custody that ultimately saw Sue win that fight, as well as the thirty-five million dollar Picasso painting. She also walked away with a $1.3 billion USD settlement in 2017, which cut Bill Gross's personal net worth in half.

3. Rupert Murdoch vs. Anna Torv ($1.7 Billion USD)

Despite Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv's relationship that saw thirty years' worth of marriage, and having three children together, this was not enough to keep the couple as husband and wife. In the beginning, the divorce proceedings were amicable enough. However, this changed when the executive chairman of News Corp (NWS) and co-chairman of Fox Corporation (FOX) decided to marry TV journalist Wendi Deng just seventeen days after his 1999 divorce from Anna Torv was finalized. This proved to be a costly mistake on his part as she took from Murdoch a $1.7 billion USD settlement, which included $110 million USD in cash.

2. Alec Wildenstein vs. Jocelyn Wildenstein ($3.8 Billion USD)

Although born in France, Alec Wildenstein grew up in America and became an art dealer and racehorse owner. His wife, Jocelyn, was a socialite who underwent frequent plastic surgery that ultimately earned herself the nickname of Catwoman as each time she went under the knife, she'd come out looking more like a cat. When the two divorced in the mid-1990s, by the time the two years' worth of negotiations were over, Jocelyn received a $2.3 billion USD settlement, plus a $100 million payout per year for the next thirteen years. The final payout when the math added up was $3.8 billion USD. This divorce settlement came with the agreement that Jocelyn Wildenstein was not to use the money on any further plastic surgery.

1. Jeff Bezos vs Mackenzie Bezos ($38 Billion USD)

When an extramarital affair interferes with a divorce, this is all the fuel the filer behind the divorce needs to go for broke as a means to get even with the cheating spouse. In the case of Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, he learned this extremely costly lesson the hard way. His affair with his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, was exposed in 2018 that quickly saw Jeff's wife of twenty-six years decide to put an end to their marriage. At the time, Jeff Bezos had a net worth of $150 billion USD. In Washington State, the law has it Mackenzie was entitled to take half of her husband's money unless there was a prenuptial already in place. According to Business Insider, when the dust settled and Mackenzie Bezos was no longer wife to Jeff Bezos, she took $38 billion USD and still has four percent shares in Amazon stock while Jeff is able to hold onto his seventy-five percent. Interestingly enough, it was not that messy of a divorce as the former couple did part ways on a less bitter note than most who've experienced this type of situation.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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