What Happens When the World’s Richest Man Gets Divorced?
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as the saying goes. So it is that not long after Jeff Bezos was declared the richest person in the world, and the richest individual in modern history, that he’s now staring down what will likely be the most expensive divorce in history, as he and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced their pending divorce in January.
The latest figures for Jeff Bezos and his personal wealth shows that he’s worth approximately $140 billion. That figure fluctuates, as the bulk of it is predicated on his 16% ownership stake in Amazon.
Meanwhile, Bezos’ other assets have been partially tallied in stories such as this one on CNet, and include The Washington Post, which Bezos bought for $250 million over five years ago and Blue Origin, Bezos’ rocket company. The couple together own what’s considered the largest home in Washington, D.C., two homes in Beverly Hills, a ranch in Texas, and two homes in Medina, Washington. That’s for starters, of course.
Considering Bezos’ position with Amazon and his ownership stake there, the company and its shareholders may have some legitimate cause for concern with how this divorce shakes out. Will his 16% stake in Amazon be split in half, leaving two 8% shareholders wielding equal shareholder power, despite Bezos’ presence as CEO? Will Bezos sell some of his stake in the company to pay out his ex-wife, as opposed to transferring the shares? Will all of the above in anyway hinder Amazon as a company in terms of leadership, financial flexibility, growth plans, or anything else?
Of course, the Bezos divorce case and its likelihood of becoming the most expensive divorce in history also further underscores a point we’ve made before, that even in loving relationships in which both parties share all of the best intentions, a prenuptial agreement is always a smart idea. Further, even a postnuptial agreement put in place after the founding of Amazon, or after its initial surge in growth and profitability, would have been a wise idea. It’s not entirely clear what the couple had in place, though reports indicate there was at least no prenuptial agreement.
Clearly, there’s a lot on the line, potentially $70 billion, give or take. We’ll all be continuing to follow the most expensive divorce in history and how it plays out, and it goes to show you that even the richest man in the world can end up in a precarious position when it comes to divorce and family law.