Celebrity divorces often occur in California due to its being the home to the entertainment industry. Other nearby states also are the home to some famous divorce matters due to their association with some of the largest technology companies. One of the biggest divorces recently made public is that of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, the founder and owner of Amazon.
Bezos has an estimated wealth of $137 billion and a marriage that has lasted for the past 25 years. There is no prenuptial agreement and the couple live in a community property state, which generally means that everything made during the marriage is presumed to be owned on a 50-50 basis. Accordingly, some people believe that after the divorce is finalized, Bezos may return the richest man mantle back over to the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.
Add to that mix of factors that MacKenzie Bezos reportedly assisted her husband in formulating and setting up Amazon in the beginning, and it appears that this may be the largest property division ever in a U.S. divorce. She could theoretically get $66 billion, or one-half of Bezos’ wealth, by virtue of living in the state of Washington, a community property state, where it is presumed that any property gained during the marriage is owned equally. That would dwarf all other divorce settlements in the country. However, in order to obtain that kind of cash, Bezos would have to sell a substantial number of shares in Amazon and risk losing control of the company.
The announcement stated that the couple will remain “cherished friends.” It is unlikely that Mackenzie will force Jeff to give up control of Amazon in order to compel funding of the divorce. It will be in their mutual interest for him to remain in his position and continue to grow the wealth they built together. California is also a community property state and the principles of that legal doctrine are important in negotiating divorce settlements here.