‘Be­zos di­vorce will be han­dled as quickly as an Ama­zon de­liv­ery’

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

The high-stakes di­vorce of Jeff and MacKen­zie Be­zos will in­volve unimag­in­able sums of money but the case may be eas­ier to ne­go­ti­ate than with reg­u­lar earn­ers, sim­ply be­cause they are so rich.

“Their di­vorce will be han­dled as quickly as an Ama­zon de­liv­ery,” said West Coast-based at­tor­ney Christo­pher Melcher.

There is no min­imis­ing the trauma of split­ting up, even with adult chil­dren and am­ple fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity.

Yet di­vorce lawyers say when very large amounts of money are in­volved, there’s sim­ply more gauze for the wounds.

Jeff Be­zos, the founder of Ama­zon. com Inc, has a net worth of $137bn, ac­cord­ing to the Bloomberg Bil­lion­aires In­dex.

The cou­ple in­tends to part “as friends,” and MacKen­zie may well be­come the world’s rich­est woman.

Sergey Brin, a Google founder worth over $50bn, and his wife, Anne Wo­j­ci­cki, her­self a ma­jor fig­ure in Sil­i­con Val­ley, sought to keep their part­ing am­i­ca­ble over the last few years.

They have ap­peared in pub­lic to­gether and con­tinue rais­ing their two chil­dren jointly.

When Harold Hamm, the oil and gas ex­ec­u­tive, and his wife, Sue Ann di­vorced in 2014, he wrote a check for an es­ti­mated $975mn, about 5% of his worth.

The check, he said at the time, “got the job done” af­ter years of bit­ter­ness.

It sounds ob­vi­ous, but ex­perts note that, with more wealth, each dol­lar means less – and that can turn down the emo­tional ther­mome­ter, at least in pub­lic.

“They be­came ex­traor­di­nar­ily wealthy be­cause they were smart,” said Michael Stut­man, a prom­i­nent di­vorce lawyer. “And smart peo­ple do not spend money on lawyers fight­ing over the emo­tional land­scape. They spend their money do­ing what they can to max­imise their post-di­vorce net worth.”

He added, though: “Some­times an ex­pen­sive dis­pute can’t be avoided.”

Take the ex­am­ple of Frank and Jamie McCourt, the for­mer Los An­ge­les Dodgers own­ers.

They moved to LA in 2014, spend­ing mil­lions on homes and pools, re­port­edly even $10,000 a month on hairstyling.

Five years later they were trad­ing charges, in­clud­ing in­fi­delity, in­sub­or­di­na­tion (he fired her as the team’s CEO) and other trans­gres­sions.

He paid her $130mn as part of their di­vorce in 2009, as the team went into bank­ruptcy and was later resold.

“They dragged the team through their per­sonal bat­tle,” said Melcher, of Walzer Melcher in Los An­ge­les.

Di­vorces of the very rich can also be­come com­pli­cated when they cover sev­eral ju­ris­dic­tions, phi­lan­thropies, money stashed off-shore and high-end as­sets like art.

Di­vorce Trig­gers Bat­tle Royal for Bil­lion­aire’s Art Col­lec­tion

The di­vorce be­tween Rus­sia’s Dmitry Ry­bolovlev and his wife Elena un­folded over six ju­ris­dic­tions and re­sulted in years of ac­ri­mony.

In 2014, a Swiss judge awarded her $4.8bn, though they next year they set­tled for re­port­edly less than that – though still a con­sid­er­able sum.

Randy Kessler, an At­lanta-based di­vorce lawyer, gave one fur­ther caveat.

If the lawyers in­volved in the Be­zos case make even the small­est mis­take, it could cost a bil­lion dol­lars.

“It would scare me,” he said.

The high-stakes di­vorce of Jeff and MacKen­zie Be­zos will in­volve unimag­in­able sums of money but the case may be eas­ier to ne­go­ti­ate than with reg­u­lar earn­ers, sim­ply be­cause they are so rich

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