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The most expensive divorces in the world

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch is to divorce for the fourth time

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and actress Jerry Hall are reportedly divorcing after six years of marriage. 

People close to Murdoch, 91, were said to be “surprised” to hear of his split with Hall, 65. In the early years of their marriage, aides and friends of the family believed Murdoch was “happily devoting more time to his new wife” to leave room for his children to “assert themselves” at the top of his media empire, reported The New York Times.

Murdoch’s News Corporation empire controls major outlets such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, as well as The Times and The Sun

At the time of their marriage in 2016, the billionaire announced he would stop posting on Twitter, calling himself “the luckiest AND happiest man in the world”. 

Now the pair are to go their separate ways in what will be the fourth – and likely extremely costly – divorce for the media mogul. The Week looks at some of the most expensive divorces in recent history. 

1

Steve and Elaine Wynn

The co-founders of US hotel and casino giant Wynn Resorts, the pair divorced, for a second time, in 2010. 

Elaine received 11 million shares in Wynn Resorts as part of the divorce settlement, worth an estimated $795m, according to Forbes. Steve also sold some $114m in stock that year, with “some, if not all” going to Elaine as part of their divorce deal. 

Elaine went on to sue Wynn Resorts in 2012 in order to sell part of her 9% stake in the company before being kicked off the board three years later “amid an ugly proxy battle”. But after her ex-husband stepped down as chairman and CEO in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations, which he denies, he sold all his shares leaving Elaine as the company’s largest individual shareholder. 

2

Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone

Finalised in 2009, the split between the then Formula One commercial boss and fashion model Slavica Radić was an “amicable divorce”, if an “unusual one”. Bernie’s ex-wife was seemingly tied into paying him back some $100m a year, “reflecting the fact that many of his assets were actually held in trust in her name to avoid Britain’s steep inheritance taxes”, claimed Investopedia

Radić received an estimated £730m in the divorce settlement.

3

Rupert and Anna Murdoch

After 32 years of marriage and three children together, Murdoch and his first wife Anna divorced in 1999. Anna reportedly received some $1.7bn in the divorce settlement, although this number has been disputed by some commentators.

Murdoch married his second wife, Wendi Deng, just 17 days after the divorce was finalised. Their marriage ended 14 years later in 2013, with their assets split in undisclosed amounts under “one prenuptial and two postnuptial agreements”, said The New York Times.

4

French-born American art dealer and racehorse owner Alec Wildenstein and his wife Jocelyn divorced in 1999. The split became tabloid fodder after Jocelyn walked in on her husband and a 19-year-old Russian model in a bedroom in the pair’s New York home – resulting in her now ex-husband threatening her with a gun, according to Vanity Fair

The high-profile divorce proceedings resulted in Jocelyn being awarded $2.3bn and $100m for each of the next 13 years, said People, for a total of $3.6bn. But despite the multibillion-dollar payout, it appears Jocelyn’s fortune had “all gone” just 19 years after the settlement, with the socialite filing for bankruptcy in 2018, reported the Daily Mail

5

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was the “richest man in the world” in 2019 when he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, split, which makes it “fitting” that his divorce comes in at probably the most expensive in the world, said Investopedia. 

Under the terms of the settlement, MacKenzie kept a small stake in Amazon worth some $38bn, “vaulting her to the position of world's third-richest woman alive”, said Insider.

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