A $140billion divorce... but insiders vow Bezos won’t lose control of Amazon
AMAZON billionaire Jeff Bezos will retain control of the online retail giant despite the prospect of splitting his $137bn in two when he and his wife divorce.
Sources close to the world’s richest man, who has a fortune valued at $137bn, last night told the Mail on Sunday that the future of Amazon, of which he owns 16%, is ‘safe’.
‘People have been speculating that because of his divorce, his wife will get half his shares and that will put the future of the company in jeopardy,’ a source close to 55-year-old Bezos said.
‘But this was all worked out last year. Amazon is not in danger. The divorce settlement is far further along than anyone knows.
‘Both Jeff and his wife are smart people. He is keeping control of Amazon.’
Bezos and MacKenzie, his wife of 25 years, announced on Twitter last week that they were parting ‘as cherished friends’ and divorcing ‘after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation’.
But within hours it emerged that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a 49-year-old former TV anchor who split from her husband, the Hollywood talent agent Patrick Whitesell, last autumn.
The Bezos divorce is likely to be the biggest in history. The couple, who married in 1993 shortly before he founded Amazon, are understood to have no pre-nuptial agreement, entitling her to half of his fortune.
The couple have a string of properties, including a $32m home in Washington State, a $25m home in Beverly Hills and a $23m converted museum in Washington DC, along with 400,000 acres of land.
However, the majority of his wealth lies in his Amazon shares and there were fears he might have to sell some of his stake, potentially affecting the value of the online giant.
But the source said: ‘The deal is still being worked out because there are so many complex assets, but there is no danger of him losing his majority stake in Amazon. That has been agreed.’
Meanwhile, a close friend of Ms Sanchez insisted that she and Bezos are ‘madly in love’ and plan to marry as soon as their respective divorces are finalised.
The National Enquirer last week claimed that Bezos ‘cheated’ on his 46-year-old wife, with whom he has four children, by starting his relationship with Ms Sanchez before they had formally split. They also published a series of passionate text messages sent by the billionaire to Ms Sanchez.
But pals of the former TV pre- senter said the allegation was ‘totally unfair and untrue’, adding: ‘Most of what has been written about Lauren and Jeff’s relationship is not true.
‘They both split from their respective partners in the autumn. Their relationship did not start until their marriages had ended.
‘They knew each other before and there were text messages between them, but text messages do not mean an affair. There was nothing seedy about how this relationship started and there’s nothing sleazy about it now.’
Another friend said that Mr Whitesell and Ms Sanchez have a so-called ‘bird-nesting’ arrangement with their children remaining in the family home while parents take it in turns to live there.
Insiders claimed Ms Sanchez, a former host of the hit US shows So You Think You Can Dance? and Extra, ‘fought’ to save her marriage to Mr Whitesell, the chief executive of talent agency William Morris Endeavor, which represents stars including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale.
Mr and Mrs Bezos, Ms Sanchez and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.
SPLIT: Bezos with estranged wife MacKenzie and, below, their assets include four New York City apartments worth $13m, a $23m Washington museum and a $25m Beverly Hills mansion. Right: Lauren Sanchez