Award-winning actor Amy Irving met Steven Spielberg when she auditioned for Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although Iriving was considered too young for the role in Spielberg's 1977 film, her audition sparked a four-year relationship between the pair. After separating in 1980, Irving and Spielberg reunited and got married in 1985, but their marriage also ended after just four years.
Although the couple signed a prenuptial agreement, Irving successfully contested it on the basis that it had been written on a napkin. She received around half of Spielberg's fortune in 1989, a decision that enabled her to walk away from the marriage $100 million (£57.7m) richer. Today, Spielberg's net worth is an estimated $7.5 billion (£5.4bn).
Professional golfer Tiger Woods met model and au pair Elin Nordegren in 2001. Three years later, they got married at a five-star resort in Barbados and moved into a $39 million (£28m) estate in Jupiter Island, Florida. They have two children, daughter Sam Alexis and son Charlie Axel. But six years after tying the knot, the couple's marriage, and Woods' glittering golf career, began to unravel.
Woods made global news headlines in 2009, when more than a dozen women claimed to have had an affair with him. After numerous media accusations, a high-profile car crash, and several axed brand deals, Woods and Nordegren separated unofficially. As part of their divorce settlement in in 2010, Nordegren received $100 million (£67m). She used $12 million of this sum to buy and demolish a 1920s mansion in Florida. The contents of the mansion was auctioned off for the American Christian charity Habitat for Humanity.
In 2004, the American entrepreneur Frank McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for $430 million (£310m). He owned the team with his then-wife Jamie McCourt, an attorney, professor, investor, and former US ambassador. After 32 years of marriage, the couple reached a divorce settlement in 2011, shortly after the LA Dodgers were forced to file for bankruptcy.
Frank made his fortune through the McCourt Company, his real estate development business. A huge chunk of his net worth was siphoned off to Jamie as part of the divorce agreement, which also stated that Jamie had to step down from her role as CEO of the LA Dodgers. In total, the settlement came to a staggering $131 million (£82.2m).
The American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond married TV production assistant Marcia Murphey in 1969. Murphey was Diamond's second wife and their marriage lasted more than 25 years before the couple decided to divorce in 1996, citing 'irreconcilable differences'.
The high-profile divorce gave Murphey half of Diamond's fortune, which totted up to $150 million (£100.5m). Despite the enormous sum at stake, the couple reportedly parted on good terms, with Diamond claiming that Murphey was "worth every penny" and had earned the money fair and square.
The late Russian business oligarch and government official Boris Berezovsky met Galina Besharova in 1981. At the time, he was reportedly a married maths professor earning just $83 (£60) a month. Ten years later, after Berezovsky divorced his first wife, he and Besharova were married. Berezovsky had given up his professorship and started his first business, LogoVAZ, a software and Soviet car company.
The couple's divorce in 2011 was the biggest the UK had ever seen. Although the exact amount was never disclosed, it's thought that Berezovsky was ordered to pay between £100 and £200 million ($138.6 and $277m) to his ex-wife. The "quickie" divorce hearing, which neither Berezovsky or Besharova attended, apparently lasted just 45 seconds and the pair parted on good terms. They'd been living separately for 15 years but remained in close contact for the sake of their two children.
Former model Juanita Vanoy met basketball superstar Michael Jordan in 1985, after a Chicago Bulls game. They tied the knot in 1989 and had three children together: Jeffrey, Marcus, and Jasmine. Thirteen years later, Vanoy filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. But the couple reconciled and stayed together until February 2005, when they parted ways again.
In December 2006, the couple officially announced the decision to end their 17-year marriage. As part of the divorce settlement, Vanoy received a staggering $168 million (£95.7m), making it one of the biggest divorce cases in sporting history and the biggest publicly-disclosed celebrity divorce at the time.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been married four times, but his 1999 divorce from second wife Anna hit headlines thanks to its supposedly hefty settlement price. Murdoch married Anna, a Scottish journalist, in 1967 and the couple had three children together. But after 28 years, the marriage had fallen apart.
According to rumours, Anna received a staggering $1.7 billion (£1.1bn) as part of the divorce settlement, including $110 million (£68.4 million) in cash. However, Murdoch biographers have questioned these sums, believing they have been exaggerated. Figures published by New York Magazine claim Anna walked away with around $200 million (£124m). She also secured assurances on the control of the major portion of Murdoch's assets on behalf of her children and stepdaughter Prudence, Murdoch's child with his first wife.
Russian-born Roman Abramovich is perhaps best known as the owner of England's Chelsea Football Club. But the billionaire businessman has his fingers in plenty of pies, owning the investment firm Millhouse LLC and stakes in mining companies Evraz and Norilsk Nickel. As well as his impressive portfolio, Abramovich has garnered attention from his personal life, particularly his high-profile divorce from air stewardess Irina Malandina.
Despite the couple's attempts to keep their private life hidden, divorce rumours began to circulate after Irina was seen visiting high-profile divorce lawyers in London. After 16 years of marriage and five children, the Abramovichs announced their decision to split in 2007. At the time, Roman was the 16th-richest person in the world, according to Forbes. Many people expected Irina to walk away with half of the business mogul's $18.7 billion (£9.5bn) fortune. But the final settlement reportedly awarded her $300 million ($153m), as well as assets including two houses and a yacht.
Media magnates Robert and Sheila Johnson, who married in 1969, co-founded the US cable television channel Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1979. They went on to become the country's first African-American billionaires. The couple had been together for 33 years when they announced their divorce in 2000, one year after selling BET to the mass media conglomerate Viacom for $3 billion (£2.1bn).
As part of the divorce settlement, Sheila reportedly received $400 million (£253m). In 2005, she married William T. Newman, the judge who presided over her divorce from Johnson. According to Forbes, her net worth is currently $750 million (£540.9m) – but, despite her impressive wealth, Sheila has told interviewers that her greatest achievement was turning her life around after divorce. The CEO and philanthropist is now a film producer and the first African-American woman to own stakes in three sports teams.
In 1980, then-unknown actor Mel Gibson married dental nurse Robyn Moore in Australia. After 26 years of marriage and seven children, the couple unofficially separated in 2006 following Mel's arrest for drunk-driving in Malibu. Robyn filed for divorce three years later, after photos of her husband embracing the Russian pianist and singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva went public.
Because the Gibsons never signed a prenuptial agreement, Robyn was entitled to around half of Mel's estimated $850 million (£522m) fortune as part of their divorce settlement. She receieved $425 million (£261m), as well as a portion of any residuals from Mel's future films. Their high-profile divorce was one of the biggest in Hollywood history.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – actor, bodybuilder, and former Governor of California – married writer Maria Shriver in 1986, nine years after they met at a charity tennis tournament. The couple had been together for 25 years when Shriver discovered that Schwarzenegger had fathered a 14-year-old son with the family housekeeper Mildred Patricia Baena. She filed for divorce in July 2011, citing irreconcilable differences.
Because the couple hadn't signed a prenuptial agreement, California law required Schwarzenegger to give Shriver half of his wealth. This amounted to between $500 and $750 million (£307 and £461m) at the time. According to rumours, Schwarzenegger was willing to splash out even more to apologise for his infidelity.
Roy E. Disney, the late nephew of Walt Disney, had amassed a fortune of around $1.3 billion (£662m) by the time he and wife Patricia Ann Dailey filed for divorce in 2007. Aged 77 and 72 respectively, the pair had been married for 52 years. Roy was the last member of the Disney family to work for the company. In his role as senior executive, he owned about 1% of the firm, which worked out to an impressive 16 million shares.
Prior to the split, Roy had appeared on the Forbes 400 list as one of America’s richest people, but the divorce saw the Disney heir lose almost half of his fortune. He married Disney screenwriter Leslie DeMeuse just a year later but died shortly afterwards, while Patricia passed away in 2012. The pair left behind the Roy + Patricia Disney Family Foundation, which grants up to $5 million (£3.6m) to various social justice causes every year. In 2018, the foundation had assets worth $122 million (£88.7m).
This month it was announced that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, was divorcing his sixth wife Princess Haya. Sheikh Mohammed married Haya – an Oxford University graduate, former Olympian, and the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan – in 2004. The couple had two children, but after 15 years of marriage the relationship started to break down. Princess Haya fled to England in 2019 and filed for custody of their children.
In the UK, Princess Haya sought court protection from her husband after Sheikh Mohammed ordered their children to return to Dubai. Her requests were granted. With the couple's divorce proceedings now over, the Sheikh has been told to pay a total of $730 million (£550m) to his ex-wife and their two children. The settlement includes a whopping $14.6 million (£11m) a year to cover security costs – an unusual arrangement, as the judge ruled that the main threat towards the trio was "absolutely uniquely" from Sheikh Mohammed himself. It's now the most expensive divorce in UK history.
After co-founding the sprawling casino empire Wynn Resorts in 2002, Steve and Elaine Wynn divorced for the second time in 2010. They had divorced in 1986 but remarried five years later. As Elaine had been a board member for Wynn Resorts since 2002, she was entitled to 11 million shares of the company – then worth around $795 million (£533m) – as part of the second divorce settlement. She also scooped up a large portion of the $114 million (£76.4m)-worth of stock that Steve sold that year.
The separation wasn’t all plain sailing. In 2012, Elaine sued Wynn Resorts to sell off part of her 9% stake in the company and she was removed from the board in 2015, following a heated proxy contest. Steve then faced sexual harassment allegations in 2018. Although he denied the claims, he stepped down as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts and sold all his shares. Elaine, nicknamed the "Queen of Las Vegas", is now the company's largest shareholder and has a net worth of $2 billion (£1.4bn), while Steve is worth $3.3 billion (£2.4bn) according to Forbes.
In 1961, Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi married 20-year-old Soraya. Born as Sandra Daley in Leicester, England, Soraya converted to Islam and changed her name in preparation for her marriage. The couple's lavish lifestyle saw them rubbing shoulders with celebrities at their 17 different properties, but after 13 years and five children together, Khashoggi's infidelity put an end to the marriage.
Adnan Khashoggi made his fortune as Saudi Arabia's chief arms dealer and was once the richest person in the world, but lost his billionaire status in 2007. Soraya sued her then-husband for $2.54 billion (£1.26bn) after the pair separated in 1979, hoping to claim a chunk of Adnan’s $4 billion (£2.2bn) fortune. She eventually walked away with $874 million (£631m), but claims her top priority was to prevent her husband from moving her five children to the Middle East, where she wouldn't have been able to visit them.
The divorce of oil magnate Harold Hamm from his former wife, the lawyer and economist Sue Ann Arnall, was a lengthy affair. Three years of bitter court disputes finally culminated in a settlement in 2015. Hamm brought the case to a close when he agreed to write his ex-wife a cheque for just under $975 million (£631.2m). But the ordeal wasn’t over quite yet.
After depositing the cheque, Arnall decided she wanted a bigger slice of Hamm’s then-$13.7 billion (£8.9bn) fortune and filed an appeal. The Oklahoma Supreme Court sided with Hamm and agreed to dismiss the appeal. Arnall was unable to claim more of her former husband’s enormous wealth, but did fund a political action committee that eventually succeeded in unseating the judge who had overseen the settlement. Both parties spent millions of dollars on legal fees. Harold Hamm, who served as an informal energy adviser to Donald Trump, is currently worth $11.8 billion (£8.5bn) according to Forbes.
The American investor and fund manager Bill Gross made his fortune through Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), which he co-founded in 1971. Dubbed "the nation's most prominent bond investor" by The New York Times, Gross married his second wife, the philanthropist Sue J. Frank, in 1985. Their contentious divorce began in 2016 and was finalised in 2018, after two years of negotiations.
In the final settlement, Sue walked away with $1.3 billion (£930.3m)-worth of assets, including a 13,819-square-foot home in Laguna Beach, California worth $36 million (£29.2m). According to the New York Post, Bill filled the mansion with stink bombs before he left and even hired a security company to monitor Sue's activity. The couple eventually got matching restraining orders. As part of the deal, Sue also got a contested Picasso painting called Les Repos, which she auctioned off at Sotheby's for $36.9 million (£26.8m) in 2018.
The divorce pushed Bill off the Forbes 400 list after he had ranked as one of America’s richest people for the previous 14 years. Both Bill and Sue Gross currently have fortunes of $1.5 billion (£1.1bn), according to Forbes. Gross is pictured with his new wife, former professional tennis player Amy Schwartz, who he married in April 2021.
British business tycoon and Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone married the Croatian model Slavica Radić in 1895. Radić filed for divorce in 2008. The split was amicable, with the hearing lasting just under one minute. But proceedings were complicated by the fact that Ecclestone had transferred his assets to an offshore fund in Radić's name in the 1990s.
In 2014, it was reported that Ecclestone had recieved $500 million (£299m) since his divorce from Radić was finalised in 2009. This suggested that he receives $100 million (£59.8m) every year from the fund in Radić's name. If this arrangement is ongoing, Ecclestone will have received $1.4 billion (£1bn) so far. He and his family currently have a net worth of $3.4 billion (£2.4bn), according to Forbes.
The couple never signed a prenuptial agreement. If the divorce settlement had given Melinda half of her husband's wealth, she would now have a net worth of around $68 billion (£51bn). According to Forbes, Melinda's net worth is $5.9 billion (£4.4bn) while Bill is worth around $136 billion (£102m).
American socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein is best known for two things: her penchant for plastic surgery, and the enormous divorce payout agreed with ex-husband Alec Wildenstein in 1999. The pair met in 1977 on a safari in Kenya and eloped to Las Vegas in 1978. However, messy divorce proceedings began in 1997, after Alec allegedly aimed a gun at his wife when she found him with another woman.
The global press jumped on details of the divorce between Alec and Jocelyn, which provided intriguing insights into the couple’s lifestyle. Jocelyn’s excessive spending allegedly included an annual telephone bill of $60,000 (£36k) and $547,000 (£336k) spent on food and wine. Her monthly allowance was reportedly slashed from $150,000 (£92k) to $50,000 (£30.7k) when the pair separated. All in all, the divorce settlement came to $2.5 billion (£1.8bn), along with an additional $100 million (£61.4m) payment for the following 13 years.
MacKenzie Scott and Jeff Bezos met while working at a hedge fund in New York, before founding the retail mammoth Amazon in their garage in 1994. A quarter of a century later, their business may have been booming but their marriage had irrevocably broken down. What followed was the most expensive divorce settlement of all time
As part of their 2019 divorce settlement, Scott received 4% of Amazon stock. At the time, this was worth $35 billion (£26.4bn) but has rocketed in value following Amazon's success during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having divorced the world's richest man, Scott is currently worth $57.3 billion (£43bn) but has signed up to the Giving Pledge, an initiative for the super-wealthy to give away the majority of their money within their lifetime. In 2020, Scott donated more than $4 billion (£2.9 billion) to charity.
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