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Thread: World's Most Expensive Divorces

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    Default World's Most Expensive Divorces




    The Most Costly Breakups


    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.

    In 2012, perhaps the most high-profile divorce announcement was between celebrity couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Although Cruise has stated publicly that he is "deeply saddened" by the divorce filing, there may be a silver lining for the Mission Impossible star. With some estimates place Cruise's net worth at upwards of $250 million, he may only stand to lose a small portion of his wealth in the divorce, thanks to a prenuptial agreement.

    According to publicly available details in the agreement, Holmes is only eligible to get $3 million for every year she was married to Cruise, which would be between $15-$18 million. On top of this, Holmes is likely to get the couple's Beverly Hills mansion, worth approximately $35 million, along with potential child support and a share of the income generated from projects the couple worked on together during their marriage. Without the prenup, Cruise may have been on the hook for half of his wealth, depending on the state in which the divorce proceedings occur.

    Some high net worth individuals, however, aren't so lucky: although the divorce of Cruise and Holmes will be quite expensive, some of the world's most wealthy people have seen their net worth cut in half by a divorce settlement, with some passing the billion-dollar mark.

    Although most settlements don't get finalized until well after the divorce takes place, there is always speculation when a high net worth divorce is on the horizon, as was the case when Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren went through their highly-public divorce. In the case of Woods, there was originally speculation that the settlement could reach $750 million, although in the end, the actual figure was considerably less.

    So, what are the biggest divorce settlements and who has paid the most? There have been several in the past 12 months that have cracked the top list, although they all leave the Cruise-Holmes divorce in their dust, as far as divorce settlements go. Click ahead for the full list.









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    1. Rupert and Anna Murdoch



    Settlement Amount: $1.7 billion

    The most expensive divorce in the world to date occured between Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his former wife, Anna Murdoch (now Anna Murdoch Mann). After a marriage of 32 years and three children together, the couple split up in 1999. Under the settlement, $1.7 billion of Rupert's fortune (which included $110 million in cash) went to Anna.

    A mere 17 days after the divorce was finalized, Rupert wed Wendi Deng, 38 years his junior, while Anna married investor William Mann several months later.







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    2. Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone



    Settlement Amount: $1-1.2 billion

    The 2009 divorce between billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and his wife Slavica was at the time thought to be the most expensive in history - in the range of $4 billion. However, the final settlement is estimated by various reports to be in the range of $1-$1.2 billion. The settlement has not been made public, but experts from across the globe believe the latter number is more realistic.

    Since the settlement, Slavica, a former Armani model who stands nearly a foot taller than her ex-husband, has been buying some new toys with her wealth, now estimated to be 743 million euro ($1.16 billion) by the Times of London. Part of her recent shopping spree is a new $60 million private plane.







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    3. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi



    Settlement Amount: $874 million

    For almost two decades, Saudi billionaire entrepreneur and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi held the record for the most expensive divorce settlement in history. Although they filed for divorce in 1974, it took Soraya until 1979 to sue - for a sum of $2.54 billion - her ex-husband for the rights to cash in the wake of their breakup.

    In 1982, the couple agreed to a settlement that landed British-born Soraya (originally Sandra Daly) $874 million. At one time, Adnan was estimated to be worth $4 billion, but lost his billionaire distinction in 2007, with no help from his costly divorce.







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    4. Craig and Wendy McCaw




    Settlement Amount: $460 million

    The Seattle-area businessman and founder of McCaw Cellular, Craig McCaw and his wife Wendy split up, in 1998, just a few years after selling the company to AT&T for between $11-$12 billion.

    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.







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    5. Mel and Robyn Gibson




    Settlement Amount: $425 million

    In what is the biggest celebrity divorce of all-time, Mel Gibson reportedly handed over half of his $850 million fortune when he split with his wife of 31 years, Robyn. The divorce was finalized in December 2011 after being filed more than two years earlier, following the release of photos showing the actor in an embrace with Russian singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva.

    As a result of the divorce, it was reported that Robyn was entitled to not only half of Gibson's wealth, but also any future residuals from Gibson's films. Not only did Gibson lose half his fortune (he too did not have a prenuptial agreement), but soon after his relationship with Grigorieva hit the brakes. In a highly publicized breakup that included recorded phone conversations and restraining orders, Gibson was also ordered to pay child support to the tune of $750,000, plus a multi-million dollar settlement.







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    6. Robert and Sheila Johnson



    Settlement Amount: $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 married William T. Newman Jr., the judge who presided over her original divorce case.







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    7. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver





    Settlement Amount: $250-$375 million

    In another highly publicized divorce, movie star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, split after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with a member of the couple's domestic staff.

    Since the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, Schwarzenegger was required under California law to hand over half of his wealth to Shriver, reports indicated that that he was willing to give an even more generous sum in order to demonstrate that he was taking responsibility for his actions. Although the final figure was never made public after the 2011 announcement, it was estimated that Schwarzenegger's wealth was between $500 million and $750 million, placing the settlement between $250 and $375 million.





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    8. Roman and Irina Abramovich




    Settlement Amount: $300 million

    In what had the potential to be the most expensive divorce settlement of all-time, Roman Abramovich's divorce from Irina Abramovich 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, and it was speculated that Irina could be awarded up to half of her former husband's $18.7 billion net worth. Instead, she was awarded less than 2 percent of his fortune.

    Don't feel bad for her, however, as assets are reported to have included cash, mansions in Britain and Moscow, a yacht and a private plane. Reports from the time note that Irina could have acquired 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.





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    9. Michael and Maya Polsky



    Settlement Amount: $184 million

    In 2003, Maya Polsky, wife of Michael Polsky, filed for divorce and wound up settling for $184 million. Polsky, the founder, president and CEO of Invenergy LLC had an estimated $368 million in cash and assets with his wife prior to the divorce, and she got half of it.

    The couple, which married in 1975 in the Ukraine, moved to the US in 1976 with little assets and only $500 in cash. Polsky made his fortune by starting various energy companies, including SkyGen Energy (which he sold in 2000 for $450 million) and Invenergy, which is a Chicago-based wind energy company.






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    10. Michael and Juanita Jordan



    Settlement Amount: $168 million

    Basketball legend Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita split up in 2006 after 17 years of marriage, and one year later came to a divorce settlement of $168 million. The couple considered divorce in January 2002, but reconciled their differences shortly thereafter. The final divorce settlement included not only the cash payout, but the couple's seven-acre estate in Chicago and custody of their three children.





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    11. Samathur Li Kin-kan and Florence Tsang Chiu-wing




    Settlement Amount: $154 million

    Although this divorce may have happened under the radar for most of the Western world, the split of Samanthur Li Kin-kan, an heir to a Hong Kong real estate fortune, and his wife, Florence Tsang Chiu-wing (pictured), is thought to be the largest ever in Asia. The settlement topped out at HK$1.2 billion ($154 million), which included properties around the world, cash payments and the distribution of other assets.

    It was reported that the marriage began going downhill after Florence denied her husband's requests that she have an abortion. Later, questions about Samanthur's potential infidelity arose. The large settlement was covered by CNN, which highlighted Hong Kong's reputation as the 'divorce capital of Asia.'







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    12. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphey



    Settlement Amount: $150 million

    After 25 years of marriage, singer Neil Diamond and his then-wife Marcia split in 1996 after rumors of Neil's infidelity encouraged her to file for divorce. In the settlement, although the official numbers were never made public, Diamond has been quoted as saying that Marcia had received $150 million in the divorce.





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    13. Frank and Jamie McCourt



    Settlement Amount: $131 million

    The former owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank McCourt, made most of his money in the real estate development business, but was set to lose a healthy portion of it when it was announced that the couple was splitting after 30 years of marriage in 2009. In a messy divorce, McCourt fired Jamie as CEO of the Dodgers and as part of the divorce settlement, Jamie relinquished her ownership stake in the team after receiving a $131 million settlement.

    The settlement was reached in October 2011, several months after the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, which eventually required the team to be put up for sale. In March 2012, the Dodgers and the land surrounding the stadium sold to a group of investors for a record price of $2.15 billion. It was a surprise to most everyone in the sports world that the team would have such a high valuation, but since Jamie had relinquished her ownership stake in the team, she was not eligible to benefit from the proceeds, leading the Wall Street Journal to pose the question: Jamie McCourt's Share: Baseball's Worst Deal?




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    14. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren




    Settlement Amount: $100-$110 million

    The events leading to the divorce of golf superstar Tiger Woods and Swedish model Elin Nordegren caught the media spotlight after Woods was involved in a single-car accident over Thanksgiving weekend 2009. Eventually, Woods admitted his infidelities and announced an indefinite break from golf, although he would return to the sport for the Masters in April. Woods remained winless for the whole of 2010.

    Throughout the ordeal, more than a dozen women claimed they had relations with Woods, and his divorce with Nordegren was finalized on August 23, 2010. Although some speculated that Nordegren would receive as much as $750 million, reports from various sources close to Nordegren have placed the final number at between $100 million and $110 million. The final figures have not been officially released to the public.





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