Willie Nelson once said that divorces are so expensive because they’re worth it. That may be the case, but these celebrity splits bring new meaning to the word “expensive.” From Jeff Bezos to Michael Jordan, here are high-profile celebrity divorces that resulted in huge settlements.
Jeff Bezos’ and MacKenzie Scott’s record-breaking breakup
The founder of Amazon (and the #3 richest person in the world) finalized his divorce from MacKenzie Scott in 2019, after 25 years of marriage. The settlement saw Scott walk away with a 4% stake in Amazon, valued at $38.3 billion at the time.
The settlement (obviously) boosted Scott’s position in the global wealth ranking. At the moment, she is #60 on the list of the richest people on the planet.
Scott has used some of the settlement money for good, donating to non-profits through her organization Yield Giving. In fact, in March 2023 she launched a $250 million “open call” for worthy non-profits that she could fund.
Bill Gates’ and Melinda French Gates’ divorce shrouded in secrecy
Dissecting the exact amount of the settlement between the Microsoft founder and his wife of 27 years isn’t actually possible, since the divorce agreement was not made public. There are only two things we know for sure – neither person was ordered to pay spousal support, and Bill transferred $2.4 billion worth of Microsoft stock to Melinda in May 2021, three months before their divorce was finalized, making her a billionaire in her own right.
We might not know all the details, but you can bet that when the #6 richest man in the world gets divorced, there’s a big number involved.
At the time of the finalization of the divorce, Bill’s net worth was around $152 billion, leading to speculation that he and Melinda would each be worth half of that ($76 billion) after the divorce.
Regardless of the exact number agreed upon, we’re pretty sure Bill and Melinda’s bank accounts are looking pretty darn healthy.
Mel Gibson’s $425 million payout
The “Braveheart” star’s divorce from his wife of 31 years in 2011 amounted to the biggest payout in Hollywood history. The split left Gibson with one-half of what he previously had, dropping his net worth from $850 million to $425 million.
The couple separated five years before the divorce was finalized, after Gibson made headlines for an anti-Semitic rant directed at police following a drunk driving arrest. Moore, who shares seven children with Gibson, officially filed for divorce in 2009, after it was revealed that Gibson had fathered a daughter with another woman by the name of Oksana Grigorieva.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s costly mistake: No prenup
Kennedy family heiress Shriver filed for divorce in 2011 after it emerged that her husband of 25 years, “Terminator” star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, had fathered a child with their housekeeper.
The couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, so Schwarzenegger was required under California law to hand over half of his wealth to Shriver. According to reports, he offered a higher sum in order to show he was taking responsibility for his actions.
The final figure of the settlement was never made public. However, it was estimated that Schwarzenegger’s wealth was between $500 million and $750 million, putting the settlement between $250 million and $375 million.
Steven Spielberg’s cocktail napkin catastrophe
Ahead of Spielberg and Amy Irving’s 1985 nuptials, the couple drafted and signed a prenuptial agreement on the back of a cocktail napkin. Spielberg would later grow to regret that decision when Irving successfully claimed that the agreement wasn’t valid because she was never represented by an attorney.
That ruling led to Irving being awarded a whopping $100 million in the divorce, which amounted to half of Spielberg’s earnings during the four years of their marriage. At the time of the divorce in 1989, it was the most expensive Hollywood divorce ever to take place.
The $80 million end of Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva
In 1994, long before Costner’s dramatic divorce from Christine Baumgartner was dominating the celebrity news cycle, the “Yellowstone” star divorced actress Cindy Silva. The two met in college at California State University, Fullerton, and married in 1978.
The couple, who were married 16 years and have four children together, allegedly divorced after rumors of Costner cheating on Silva, and due to him being away on film sets for months at a time. They did not have a prenup, and Silva reportedly received $80 million in settlement fees.
If you’re curious about Costner’s latest divorce saga, check out these 10 eye-opening facts about the split, as compiled by The Exit.
The pricey split of Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy
The Chicago Bulls basketball legend split from his wife of 17 years in 2006, reaching a divorce settlement of $168 million one year later. The sum amounted to one of the most – if not the most – costly settlements in sports history. Vanoy was also awarded the couple’s seven-acre estate in Chicago. In addition, Jordan reportedly paid $2.1 million in legal fees.
The divorce came four years after Vanoy’s initial divorce filing in 2002, amid reports that a private investigator had caught Jordan with half a dozen women between 1992 and 2002. Vanoy never commented on the claims and withdrew that petition for divorce one month after filing it.
Jerry Hall’s lucrative split from Rupert Murdoch
Media mogul Murdoch, the #99 richest person in the world, allegedly told ex-wife Jerry Hall in an email that he wanted a divorce.
“Jerry, sadly I’ve decided to call an end to our marriage,” Murdoch’s email reportedly began. “We have certainly had some good times, but I have much to do…My New York lawyer will be contacting yours immediately.”
Hall was reportedly surprised by the email, and so angry that she allegedly made an effigy of Murdoch, tied dental floss around its neck, and burned it on a grill. However, she made out pretty well in the settlement.
Hall, who was married to Murdoch for six years, reportedly walked away with many millions of dollars, a Georgian estate in England, and a home in the South of France. She was not given any control of Murdoch’s many properties in the United States.
Kanye West’s and Kim Kardashian’s drama-filled divorce
There was never a dull moment in the relationship of Kim and Kanye. Kardashian filed for divorce in February 2021 after six years of marriage, but that was just the beginning of the dramatic (and downright weird) things to come.
In the months following the divorce filing, Kanye took to social media to publicly ask for a reconciliation, and to criticize Kardashian’s new boyfriend Pete Davidson. In one text message between the two, Kanye asked Davidson where he was – to which the former SNL star replied, “in bed with your wife,” with a selfie showing him lying on bed.
Many of West’s bizarre tweets were later deleted, including one that claimed the Kardashian family had tried to “51/50” him (slang for a California legal code which allows for institutionalizing someone for mental health reasons).
Despite the drama, a settlement was finally reached, with West ordered to pay $200,000 a month in child support. Their combined $70 million in joint assets (including luxurious homes) were divided according to their prenup, which also included an agreement by both parties to waive spousal support.
Johnny Depp’s and Amber Heard’s settlement revisited
You would have had to be living under a rock in Spring 2022 to not have been aware of the ugly defamation trial between the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star and his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. It had so many twists and turns that it seemed as though it was created by a team of Hollywood writers. From allegations of domestic abuse to accusations of defecation in the couple’s shared bed, it was one wild and bumpy ride.
Although the trial only took place last year, the couple’s divorce was finalized in 2017, after 15 months of marriage. At that time, Heard was awarded $7 million, which she vowed to donate to charity. However, it later came out in the trial that she had not yet done so.