Falling in love doesn’t cost a thing, but sadly, the same can’t be said when falling out. Love is the reason why many, including celebrities, get hitched ignoring the importance of a prenup as they think their feelings will last forever, but apparently, it takes more than love to make a marriage work. And when the feeling does fade as a result of the so-called “irreconcilable differences” or whatever other reasons there may be, a divorce settlement can get really messy in the absence of a prenup.
As a result, the battle of who gets what usually lingers for years in the courts with the unfolding events giving the media lots of drama to chew on thereby making the divorce more ignominious for the celebrity couples involved. Let’s take a look at the top 15 most expensive celebrity divorces of all time.
15. Michael and Maya Polsky
- Duration of Marriage: 31 years (1976-2007)
- Divorce Settlement: $184 million
In 1976, Michael and Maya left Ukraine for the US with just $500 in their pockets. Michael would go on to turn that into millions having established Invenergy LLC. They stayed married for 31 years before splitting in 2007. The divorce earned Maya a 50% share ($184 million) of her husband’s net worth at the time.
14. Charles Edgar and Marlene Fipke
- Duration of Marriage: Married in the ’70s; divorced in 2000
- Divorce Settlement: $200 million
Charles Edgar Fipke made multi-millions as the first man to discover diamonds in Lac De Gras, Northwest of Canada. Marlene was married to Charles long before he discovered diamonds. Their divorce in 2000 was the largest divorce settlement at the time in the history of Canada. The fee was $123 million but the “add-ons” put the final figure at $200 million.
13. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
- Duration of Marriage: 25 years (1986-2011)
- Divorce Settlement: $250 million
This pair always looked in love, which makes you wonder what the ex-California governor was thinking when he started an affair with his housemaid, Mildred Baena, even to the point of fathering an illegitimate child with her. After 25 years of marriage, Maria filed for divorce, and thanks to California state law, she walked with half his wealth – $250 million!
12. Roman Abramovich and Irina Malandina
- Duration of Marriage: 16 years (1991–2007)
- Divorce Settlement: $300 million
Former air stewardess, Irina filed for divorce from Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, after she learned that her husband of sixteen years and father of her 5 kids was having an affair with a much younger Dasha Zhukova. Judging from the oil magnate’s net worth which runs into several billions, speculations were that the settlement fee would run into billions. But the reserved Irina wasn’t so much interested in his billions as she went her way with a paltry $300 million. The Chelsea FC owner later married Zhukova in 2008, a year after his divorce.
11. Robert and Sheila Johnson
- Duration of Marriage: 33 years (1969–2002)
- Divorce Settlement: $400 million
Robert and Sheila Johnson together founded Black Entertainment Television (BET) before selling it in 1999 to Viacom to make Robert the first black American billionaire. After over three decades together and having two children, the couple filed for divorce citing “professional differences”. Sheila Johnson received a $400 million settlement in 2003.
Two years later, Sheila would go on to marry William T. Newman, the judge who presided over her divorce from Robert. It turns out that Sheila had known William for some 30 years – they first met when they acted a play together.
10. Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore
- Duration of Marriage: 26 years (1980–2006)
- Divorce Settlement: $430 million
So far, no Hollywood divorce settlement has surpassed Mel Gibson’s $430 million payout to Robyn Moore. Also for as long as Robyn lives, she is entitled to half of the proceeds from every movie the Braveheart star made during their 30-year marriage. As is most often the case, the divorce was as a result of infidelity. Gibson was photographed indulging in a PDA on the beach in their Costa Rica home with Oksana Grigorieva. Mel and Robyn married in 1980 right after the actor’s breakthrough with Mad Max, they had 7 children together – 6 sons and a daughter.
9. Craig McCaw and Wendy Petrak
- Duration of Marriage: 21 years (1974–1995)
- Divorce Settlement: $460 million
One of the pioneers of cellular phone, Craig Mccaw founded McCaw Cellular and sold it in 1994 to AT&T Corp for $11.5 billion. Two years later, he divorced his wife with whom he was married for 21 years. Wendy Petrak walked away as one of the richest women in America at the time thanks to the $460 million divorce settlement fee.
8. Dmitry and Elena Rybolovlev
- Duration of Marriage: 21 years (1987-2008)
- Divorce Settlement: $604 million
Dmitry and Elena Rybolovlev finally ended their divorce proceedings in October 2015 – six years after the latter went to court – with a settlement that is said to be worth $604 million. This, in fact, is a stepdown from the initial $4.5 billion (half of Dmitry’s empire) awarded by a Swiss court in May 2014. The messy divorce drama which followed earned the tag of being the worst in history. The ex-couple who were married in 1987 have two daughters – Ekaterina (b. 1989) and Anna (b. 2001).
7. Steve Wynn and Elaine Pascal
- Duration of Marriage: 42 years (1963-1986; 1991-2010)
- Divorce Settlement: $741 million
Steve and Elaine married in 1963 and divorced twice, first in 1986 and after getting back together in 1991, they split again in 2010. Steve made billions of dollars thanks to his very successful chain of Wynn hotels and resorts. So when they divorced he offered Elaine 11 million shares of Wynn Resorts equivalent to $741 million. Elaine maintained her position as a director on the company’s board until 2015. Wynn married Andrea Hissom in 2011.
6. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi
- Duration of Marriage: 21 years (1961-1982)
- Divorce Settlement: $874 million
Sandra Patricia Jarvis-Daly was her original name before she (at 20 years of age) married Saudi businessman, Adnan Khashoggi in the 1960s and converted to Islam, changing her name to Soraya Khashoggi. After two decades of marriage and raising 5 kids together, the couple divorced in 1982. At the time, Adnan was already a billionaire with a net worth of around $26 billion, making him one of the richest men in the world.
British-born Soraya demanded almost two billion dollars but later received $850 million. Adnan later married 17-year-old Italian, Laura Biancolini, who also converted to Islam with the name Lamia Khashoggi.
5. Harold and Sue Ann Hamm
- Duration of Marriage: 24 years (1988-2012)
- Divorce Settlement: $975 million
Harold Hamm in April 1988 married economist and lawyer, Sue Ann. In 2012 after 24 years Sue filled for divorce with Hamm stating that they’ve been separated since 2005. Without a prenup, Hamm faced the risk of losing half of his $20 billion wealth in his oil and gas company, Continental Resources. After years of dragging in court, an Oklahoma court in 2014 ordered Hamm to pay about $1 billion to his ex-wife. Reports said Sue refused the check as it would’ve jeopardized her appeal. But it was later revealed she had already cashed the $975 million settlement check her ex-husband wrote her.
4. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radić
- Duration of Marriage: 23 years (1985-2009)
- Divorce Settlement: $1.2 billion
They are a very odd-looking couple judging from the almost 1-foot height difference and the 28 year age gap. Notwithstanding the Formula 1 supremo managed to stay with his model wife for over two decades and even raised two kids together. But it all came crumbling down in 2009. British-Croatian Slavica made away with about $1.2 billion of Bernie’s net worth of $4 billion.
3. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Maria Torv
- Duration of Marriage: 32 years (1967-1999)
- Divorce Settlement: $1.7 billion
Media mogul, Rupert Murdoch doesn’t seem like one who is afraid of paying divorce settlements. The newspaper tycoon has been divorced three times and is currently on his fourth marriage. Also, Rupert doesn’t like staying single for too long. In 1967, he married his second wife, Anna Maria Torv, the same year he divorced his first wife. After over three decades, he divorced Anna in 1999 giving her a $1.2 billion settlement. Less than 20 days after divorcing Anna, he married Chinese-born Wendi Deng and they stayed married for 13 years, divorcing in 2013. Murdoch married former model Jerry Hall in March 2016.
2. Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Périsset
- Duration of Marriage: 21 years (1978 -1999)
- Divorce Settlement: $3.8 billion
Alec inherited his family’s enormous wealth in the art dealing business. The French billionaire businessman (now late) was also a racehorse owner and breeder. In 1978, he married Swiss-born Jocelyn whom he met at the Ol Jogi Ranch, Kenya owned by his family. After staying married for 20 years, their marriage ended in 1999 after Jocelyn walked in on Alec having sex with a 19-year-old girl.
Their highly publicized divorce revealed Jocelyn’s lavish lifestyle. She received $2.5 billion in settlement and an extra $100 million annual payment for the next 13 years ending in 2013. Popular for her extensive facial surgery, the judge who presided over the case stipulated that she couldn’t use any of the settlement fees for further plastic surgery indulgence.
1. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos
- Duration of Marriage: 26 years (1993-2019)
- Divorce Settlement: $38 billion
When Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos put out a public statement on January 9, 2019, it signaled the end of their 25-year-old marriage which had seen the establishment of the world’s biggest e-commerce platform, Amazon. However, even though the couple made the process as amicable as it could be, the divorce did not come on a cheap and would make history as the most expensive divorce so far at $38 billion – making MacKenzie one of the richest women on earth (3rd on the list at the time of the divorce).
The couple who got married in 1993 had four kids together – three sons and a daughter who was adopted from China.
Here is a summary, listing the 15 most expensive divorces in the world today in order from highest to lowest:
- Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos – $38 billion
- Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Wildenstein – $3.8 billion
- Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv – $1.7 billion
- Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radić – $1.2 billion
- Harold and Sue Ann Hamm – $975 million
- Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi – $874 million
- Steven Wynn and Elaine Pascal – $741 million
- Dmitry and Elena Rybolovlev – $604 million
- Craig and Wendy McCaw – $460 million
- Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore – $430 million
- Robert and Sheila Crump Johnson – $400 million
- Roman Abramovich and Irina Malandina – $300 million
- Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver – $250 million
- Charles Edgar and Marlene Fipke – $200 million
- Michael and Maya Polsky – $184 million