During weddings, couples take vows and make promises to love each other forever. At the time, they might truly mean them. But as much as we hope that love and marriage should last for a lifetime, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.
Divorce is getting common and statistics show it increases every year. For wealthy people who enter marriage but did not sign a prenuptial agreement, divorce settlements cost them half of their net worth. This is why if you have a significant amount of property, it is wise to hire a lawyer and sign a prenup agreement. These people spent crazy amounts of money and property to settle with their exes.
1. Dmitry Rybolovlev and Elena Rybolovlev
Settlement amount: $4.8 billion
Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev met Elena when they were both students in the Ural Mountains. She remained at her side as Dmitry, a doctor, turned into an entrepreneur, banker, stockholder and “Fertilizer King” – in short, a wealthy business tycoon. After a 23-year-long marriage in 2008, Elena filed for divorce after saying she could no longer take his infidelities. Dmitry never denied to cheating, but his ex-wife knew about it for many years.
Their public divorce battle ended in May 2014 when a Geneva court ordered Dmitry to pay his ex-wife about $4.5 billion, which is half of his estimated $8.8 billion fortune, plus $150 million in alimony payments and $146 million worth of property in Switzerland. Elena also won custody of their then-13-year-old daughter, Anna.
2. Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Wildenstein
Settlement amount: $2.5 billion
Alec Wildenstein came from a family of art dealers and was an art dealer himself. He was a businessman, racehorse owner, and billionaire. In 1978, he married socialite Jocelyn Périsset, but it ended in a scandalous divorce in 1999.
Jocelyn Wildenstein was known for her many cosmetic surgeries, as she wanted a more cat-like appearance to please her husband who loves big cats. She was rumored to have spent at least $4 million on surgeries that made her face look very unnatural, but she actually liked it. It was also reported that Alec screamed in horror when he first saw her ex-wife’s new face. Consequently, their marriage further soured when Jocelyn walked in on Alec with a 19-year-old Russian model in their bedroom at their New York home, and he threatened her with a gun. Alec ended in jail for one night and Jocelyn charged for divorce on the grounds of her husband’s adultery.
Their divorce entitled Jocelyn to $2.5 billion plus a $100 million a year for 13 years after. During the settlement proceedings, the judge stipulated her not to spend any alimony payments for further cosmetic surgery.
3. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Murdoch
Settlement amount: $1.7 billion
In 1967, Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch entered into his second marriage – that time with Anna Tory. The couple had three children and remained together for 32 years. In 1999, they called it quits and the settlement cost him $1.7 billion in assets, which included $110 million in cash. Just 17 days after the divorce was finalized, Rupert married Chinese-born Wendi Deng, with whom he had an affair while married to Anna. Meanwhile, Anna also got remarried after six months with William Mann.
Wendi was 38 years his junior. Rupert had two daughters with her, but their marriage only lasted for 13 years. In 2013, they also filed for divorce, with Wendi receiving $1.8 million. They reportedly signed a prenup, so the settlement amount was nowhere as huge as his earlier divorce with Anna.
4. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Ecclestone
Settlement amount: $1 billion – $1.5 billion
Former Formula One racing CEO Bernie Ecclestone married Croatian model Slavica Radić in 1985. Slavica was 28 years younger and a foot taller than him. After two daughters and 23 years, Slavica filed for divorce in 2008 on the grounds of Bernie’s unreasonable behavior. The settlement was not publicized and experts estimated that she received $1 billion to $1.2 billion in the divorce settlement.
However, documents released in 2014 have shown that Bernie has received $500 million his ex-wife’s trust fund. A 256-page indictment disclosed the details of their divorce settlement, explaining that Bernie receives $100 million annual payments on the basis of the British decree nisi.
5. Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Hamm
Settlement amount: $975 million
A year after he divorced his first wife, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Hamm got married in 1988. During their 24 years of marriage, they had two daughters. Sue Ann is a lawyer and economist who also had executive roles at Continental Resources. However, their marriage went to splitsville when Sue Ann filed for a divorce in 2012, while Harold said that he separated from her in 2005. Prior to the divorce filing, Harold had an estimated $11 billion net worth.
In 2014, an Oklahoma County judge ordered that Hamm should pay his second wife $995.5 million, but Sue Ann vowed to appeal, seeking billions more in payment. However, when she deposited a $975 million settlement check from Harold and took possession of the marital property awarded to her, her right to appeal the judgment was forfeited.
6. Adnan Khashoggi and Soraya Khashoggi
Settlement amount: $874 million
Adnan Khashoggi amassed a great fortune in the 1970s and 1980s as an international arms dealer for the Saudi royal family. In 1961, he married then-20-year-old Englishwoman Sandra Daly, and she changed her name to Soraya when she converted to Islam. After 13 years and five children, the couple divorced in 1974.
It took Soraya five years later to use her ex-husband for the rights to cash, which is worth $2.54 billion. But the couple eventually agreed to a settlement worth $874 million. Years later, their last child named Petrina got a DNA test that showed Adnan was not her father, but Jonathan Aitken, whom Soraya had an affair with.
7. Steve Wynn and Elaine Wynn
Settlement amount: $741 million
Casino mogul Steve Wynn married his college sweetheart Elaine Pascal in 1963 and divorced in 1986. Elaine was a long-time member of the company’s board and remained as a stockholder until 2015. They still tried to make things work, and after five years, they got remarried in 1991. But the two just weren’t meant to be, and they got divorced again in 2010.
Wynn had to pay Elaine around $741 million in Wynn Resorts stock to settle the divorce. Because Elaine continued to hold on to her stocks even after the divorce, her holdings were valued at $1.2 billion.
8. Craig McCaw and Wendy McCaw
Settlement amount: $460 million
Craig McCaw is a pioneer in the cellular phone industry, having founded McCaw Cellular and Clearwire Corporation. He and his college sweetheart Wendy Petrak back in 1974.
They eventually split up in 1998, just years after selling McCaw Cellular to AT&T for around $11 billion to $12 billion. She was awarded $460 million during the divorce settlement. In 2000, Wendy bought one of California’s oldest newspaper companies, the Santa Barbara News-Press.
9. Mel Gibson and Robyn Gibson
Settlement amount: $425 million
Mel Gibson met Robyn Denise Moore after filming Mad Max in the 1970s. He was an unknown actor that time, while Robyn was a dental nurse. They were married in 1980 and had seven kids. After Mel was arrested for drunk driving in Malibu in 2006, the couple separated. Robyn filed for divorce in 2009 citing irreconcilable differences, following the leakage of Mel’s photos in a beach embracing Russian singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva. Their divorce settlement was the biggest in Hollywood history, with Mel handing over half of his $850 million fortune to his ex-wife because they did not have a prenuptial agreement. In addition, Robyn was also entitled to any future residuals from his films.
Meanwhile, Mel and Oksana had a child together in 2009, but their love affair also ended bitterly. In 2010, Oksana obtained a restraining order against Mel due to physical assault allegations. In this highly-publicized breakup, Mel was ordered to pay $750,000 for child support, plus and a multi-million-dollar settlement.
10. Robert Johnson and Sheila Johnson
Settlement amount: $400 million
Robert Johnson is America’s first African-American billionaire. He founded BET (which was sold to Viacom in 2001) and Ebony Magazine with his then-wife, Sheila Johnson. They were married since 1969 but they called it quits in 2002. Sheila received an estimated $400 million from the settlement. They both continued their business dealings after their divorce.
After three years, Sheila Johnson married William T. Newman, the court chief judge who presided over her divorce case.