When a marriage goes sour, the process of divorce becomes increasingly more complicated when the couple’s net worth is in the stratosphere.
The absence of an official prenuptial agreement, differences in international law and the circumstances surrounding of the breakup can result in large sums being paid out in the divorce settlement.
10. Michael and Maya Polsky $184 million
Michael and Maya married in the Ukraine in 1975. After citing irreconcilable differences in 2003, Maya filed for divorce from energy magnate Michael Polsky. The $184 divorce settlement also left Maya with their $2 million home in Glencoe and a $3.7 million home on Chicago‘s Lake Shore Drive. She was given various investments, cash and was allowed to keep the Maya Polsky Gallery, which is valued at $305,000.
9. Charles Edgar Fipke and Marlene Fipke $200 million
Diamond magnate Charles Edgar (Chuck) Fipke was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1946. Chuck Fipke is a prospector who discovered the existence of diamonds around Lac de Gras in Canada‘s Northwest Territories. Fipke and partner Stu Blusson each own 10% of Ekati Diamond Mine.
Chuck was divorced by his wife Marlene, who had been with him since he began searching for the diamonds. This divorce at the time was Canada‘s largest divorce settlement with her portion of the assets estimated to be approximately $200 million.
8. Roman and Irina Abramovich $300 million
In what had the potential to be the most expensive divorce settlement of all-time, Roman Abramovich’s divorce from Irina only ended up costing the Russian billionaire $300 million. At the time (2007) Roman was listed by Forbes as the 16th richest man in the world, with assets valued at $18.7 billion.
Reports from the time note that Irina could have gotten more from Roman, citing a 50/50 split of wealth under Russian law, but she had not explicitly tried to get a larger chunk of his holdings.
Abramovich met the Irina, an Aeroflot flight attendant who soon became his second wife. While they were married Abramovich made his fortune. After 17 years of marriage the couple divorced. Somehow Abramovich talked the $7 billion divorce settlement down to a little cash and a few assets such as homes, a yacht and a plan. All of this amounts to about $300 million, a mere 2 percent,
7. Robert Johnson and Sheila Johnson $400 million
Robert Johnson, the co-founder of BET and America’s first African-American billionaire, also has one of the biggest divorce settlements in history. After a marriage of over 30 years, the couple split up in 2000 and Sheila received an estimated $400 million in the settlement. Both have continued their business dealings, owning majority stakes in professional men’s and women’s basketball teams. In 2005, Sheila has since married William T. Newman Jr., the judge who presided over their divorce case.
6. Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore $425 million
Mel and Robyn were married for 28 years and are parents to seven children. The couple did not have a pre-nup and will split their $850 million dollar fortune. She has also chosen to revert back to her maiden name of Moore.
Robyn then filed for divorce after pictures surfaced of Gibson and his then girlfriend, and baby mama to his eighth child, Oksana Grigorieva frolicking on the beach at their Costa Rica vacation home.
5. Craig McCaw and Wendy McCaw $460 million
Craig McCaw’s fortune began when he turned the failing television cable service he inherited to a successful business. He eventually sold the it for $755 million. A visionary, he acquired cell phone licenses as early as 1981, which he was eventually able to sell to AT&T for $12 billion. He met his future wife, Wendy before he made his billions when she tutored him at Stanford University. Their marriage lasted from 1974 until 1995.
The divorce settlement saw Wendy receive most of her $460 million settlement in Nextel stock, which eventually allowed her to purchase the Santa-Barbara News-Press from the New York Times. When the settlement was finalized, it put her on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, but she soon dropped off after a short run. The settlement gave Wendy $460 million, enough to support her $200,000 per week lifestyle.
4. Adan Khashoggi and Soraya Khashoggi $874 million
Adan Khashoggi made his early money as an international arms dealer for the Saudi royal family. He than started his own company Triad, which owned and managed banks, hotels, and real estate across the globe. He married Soraya in 1961, and for almost two decades Kasshoggi held the record for the most expensive divorce settlement in history. Both enjoyed living lavish lifestyles including thrilling affairs. Although they filed for divorce in 1974, and 1979 there was still an active lawsuit for $2.54 billion, in 1982 the couple agreed to a settlement that landed British-born Soraya (originally Sandra Daly) $874 million.
3. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radic $1-1.2 billion (estimated)
The 2009 divorce between Formula 1 billionarie Bernie and his wife Slavica was initially thought to be the most expensive in history – in the range of $4 billion. But the final settlement is estimated by various reports to be in the range of $1 billion. The settlement has not been made public, but experts believe the latter number is more realistic.
2. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Murdoch $ 1.7 billion
Rupert is one of the richest men in the world. He made his fortune by inheriting his father’s Australian newspaper in 1952 and developing it into a worldwide media empire News Corporation. He married Anna in the 60’s and they had three children together. In 1999 they divorced and Rupert agreed to give Anna $1.7 billion mostly in assets, although she was removed from the News Corp. board. Seventeen days after the divorce was finalized Rupert married his younger employee Wendi Deng.
1. President Frederick Chiluba and Vera Chiluba $2.5 billion
The 33 year marriage between the former President of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba and his wife Vera was recently annulled. Ex-wife Vera is asking for a settlement of $2.5 billion (more than three quarters of the county’s Gross Domestic Product) in addition to a share of their concrete assets including six houses and a farm, she is also demanding over 400 cows, sheep, and goats. Since it is unknown exactly how much the ex-president is worth or how he was able to acquire the money this case has not yet been settled and Vera is living off government assistance.
Pending: Dmitry Rybolovlev and Yelena Rybolovlev
In November 2010, lawyers acting for Russian billionaire Dmitry, who is fighting what could end up being the biggest divorce settlement in history, cautioned reporters in Switzerland not to cover the case, warning that they may breach strict local privacy laws. Rybolovlev’s wife, Yelena, went for a claim of $6 billion from the man known as the “fertilizer king” for a fortune amassed in potash mining that made him the world’s 79th richest person.
The 10th richest Russian’s assets include an impressive art collection with paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Monet, a $109.39 million motor yacht called “MY Anna” and a $95 million estate, Maison L’Amitie in Palm Beach that was originally owned by Donald Trump. Yelena’s claim will be close to $5.77 billion, or half the wealth which her husband earned since their marriage in 1987.
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