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10 of the Most Expensive Divorces in History

Divorce is widely recognized as a costly procedure that typically commences with substantial payments to lawyers, representing only a fraction of the total sum one spouse may be required to pay the other. If you have personally experienced such a process, you are well-aware of the financial implications involved. However, regardless of the amount relinquished, it is unlikely that it comes close to the staggering figures detailed here. Presented below are ten of history's most exorbitant divorce settlements, serving as testament to just how expensive these events can truly be.

1.  Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving (1989)

Divorce settlement amount: $100,000,000 (100 million)

Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving divorce
Renowned filmmaker Steven Spielberg encountered his future former spouse through the acquaintance of George Lucas' partner, Brian De Palma. Back then, De Palma was auditioning for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars. The lady recommended that Amy try out for Spielberg's film Encounters of the Third Kind. This encounter led to a blossoming romance between the director and actress. They eventually decided to co-habitate despite facing challenges in their relationship.
Amy struggled with living under her husband's spotlight as a successful director while attempting to establish herself as an actress. Nevertheless, love prevailed, and they tied the knot in 1985 after Amy became pregnant with their child. Interestingly enough, their financial agreement was hastily written on a napkin without any legal representation present.
In early 1989, rumors emerged about Steven having an affair with Kate Capshaw, who had starred alongside him in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Consequently, Spielberg divorced Amy and married Kate two years later. During divorce proceedings, it was determined that their informal financial agreement on the napkin held no legal weight. As a result, Amy received half of her ex-husband's earnings during their four-year marriage based on court rulings.

2. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphy (1994)

Divorce settlement amount: $150,000,000 (150 million)
2. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphy
Neil Diamond is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished musicians globally. At the commencement of his career, he was already wedded to his high school sweetheart, Jane Posner. In 1967, they decided to part ways and eventually finalized their divorce two years later. Coincidentally in that same year, Neil encountered his second spouse - Marcia Murphy. However, after a marital union lasting 25 years with her as well, they too ended up getting divorced. Rumor has it that Marcia received a staggering $150 million in the settlement amount. Although Neil insists that the actual sum was slightly lower than speculated upon but certainly not by a significant margin; he takes full accountability for this failed marriage.
In his album 'Tennessee Moon', he expressed his feelings of guilt and failure. This album was released two years after his divorce. According to him, creating this album served as a better and more personal form of therapy than seeking professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist. In an interview with People weekly, he admitted that he struggled to give enough attention to his wife, stating that "I think a woman needs a lot more attention than I could give." The demanding nature of his tours often caused him to be absent for long periods of time. However, in 2012, he found new love and married for the third time. He believed that this marriage would last forever because he had finally found someone who could fulfill the role of being his wife.

3. Michael Jordan and Juanita Vannoy (2006)

Divorce settlement amount: 168,000,000 (168 million)
Michael Jordan and Juanita Vannoy
Michael Jordan, the renowned basketball player, courted Juanica Vanoy for a period of two years before tying the knot in 1989. Throughout their marriage, Jordan's career reached new heights, but unfortunately, their relationship started to crumble. In 2002, both parties decided to file for divorce; however, they tried to salvage their bond and continued working on it as they had three children together. Eventually, maintaining a normal relationship proved to be impossible for them and in 2006 they officially divorced after being married for seventeen years.
The decision to end their marriage was mutual; nevertheless, Jordan had to pay a substantial sum of money as part of the divorce settlement - at that time it was considered the highest amount ever paid by a celebrity or athlete. However, this record was soon surpassed later that same year by another famous individual whose details will be revealed further down our list.

4. Roman Abramovich and Irena Melandina (2007)

Divorce settlement amount: $300,000,000 (300 million)
Roman Abramovich and Irena Melandina
In 2022, Roman Abramovich, a prominent Russian-Israeli oligarch, ranked 350th on the list of the world's wealthiest individuals. He is widely regarded as one of the richest among his fellow Russian oligarchs. In 1991, he tied the knot with Irena after they crossed paths during a flight to Germany. At that time, Irena worked as a flight attendant and had served him drinks. Interestingly, their union came shortly after Abramovich divorced his previous partner.
During their marriage, Roman and Irena were blessed with five children before eventually parting ways in Russia. Reports from local newspapers indicated that Abramovich was frequently seen with Dasha Zhukova—a young Russian model whom he later married between 2008 and 2017.
Divorces in Russia are known for their simplicity; assets are typically divided equally between the couple involved. Given this fact, gossip papers speculated that Irena would be entitled to half of Abramovich's wealth—a staggering $6 billion sum! However, despite her efforts to secure such an amount during legal proceedings, she ended up receiving "only" $300 million.

5. Mel Gibson and Robin Moore (2006)

Divorce settlement amount: $425,000,000 (425 million)
Mel Gibson and Robin Moore
Do you recall our previous statement about Michael Jordan's record being surpassed in that particular year? Well, it was none other than Mel Gibson who achieved this feat, paying an amount well beyond twice the renowned basketball player's earnings. In 1970, right after completing his breakthrough movie Mad Max Gibson crossed paths with Robin, who worked as a dental assistant at that time. The couple remained married for three decades and had a total of seven children together. Since they did not establish any financial agreement during their marriage, his former wife is legally entitled to half of all the income he earned throughout their marital period.
During that time frame, Gibson experienced a significant influx of funds, with approximately $600 million stemming from the film The Passion of the Christ. Additionally, Moore was entitled to half of any future income received by Gibson from their shared properties throughout his lifetime.
Unbeknownst to him, a clandestine recording captured Gibson discussing his divorce in 2010 with his partner at the time, Russian model Oksana Grigorieva. In this conversation, he revealed that their split was due to a lack of shared spiritual beliefs. When fighting for custody and making accusations of domestic violence against Gibson, Grigorieva also attempted to secure a similar monetary sum. However, Gibson's ex-wife testified in court that he was an exceptional and loving father who had never harmed her or their children.

6. Roy E. Disney and Patricia Ann Daly (2007)

Divorce settlement amount: $600,000,000 (600 million)
Roy E. Disney and Patricia Ann Daly
Let me share a little joke with you: there was an elderly couple in their 90s who walked into a lawyer's office and requested a divorce. The lawyer was curious and asked them why they had decided to separate after being together for so long. Their response was rather darkly humorous as they said, "We stayed together all these years for the sake of our children, waiting for them to pass away." 
A similar but less amusing story involves Roy and Patricia, who were married for an impressive 52 years. Roy Disney, as his name implies, is part of the renowned Disney family. His father happened to be Walt's older brother, and together they established the iconic Disney company. In his senior role within the company, Roy served as a consultant and enjoyed considerable financial resources at the time of their divorce when he was already 77 years old.
According to official documents related to their divorce proceedings, irreconcilable differences were cited as the reason behind their decision to part ways. It became evident that this couple had been living separately from each other for many years prior to taking legal action.
The conclusion to this story, unfortunately, is quite sad. Patricia passed away in the year she got divorced, so she didn't really get a chance to enjoy her new life. Additionally, Roy remarried another woman named Leslie de Meuse a year later, but sadly he also passed away just one year after that due to cancer. The person who seems to benefit most from all of this is Leslie, as she received a significant inheritance from her late husband.

7. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv parted (1999)

Divorce settlement amount: $1,700,000,000 (1.7 billion)
Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv parted

Rupert Murdoch first crossed paths with his second wife, Anna Torv, during her tenure as a young reporter at "The Daily Mirror," one of Murdoch's newspapers. This fateful encounter occurred in 1966, and within the following year, the couple had already tied the knot. Prior to this marriage, Murdoch had divorced his previous wife, Patricia Brooks. The union between Rupert and Anna lasted an impressive 31 years but encountered a major obstacle when Rupert struggled to find balance between his personal and professional life.

While Anna hoped for them to retire together and enjoy their golden years side by side, Rupert adamantly refused due to concerns that retirement would lead him towards an untimely demise. Unable to bear the weight of her husband's overwhelming work commitments any longer, divorce seemed like the only viable solution for him; however, Anna held strong beliefs in upholding the sanctity of marriage and could not bring herself to take such drastic measures.

The final straw for Anna was actually the extramarital affair that Rupert had with his future third wife, Wendy Deng. The age difference between them was significant, with Wendy being 30 years old while Rupert was 68. Up until she discovered the betrayal, Anna believed that there were no problems in their relationship. She was even willing to give her husband a second chance, but he refused. It became evident that Rupert had fallen in love with Wendy and already made up his mind about getting a divorce. Eventually, they ended their relationship.

At the time of their divorce, it was considered the most expensive one in history. However, despite all the money involved, it did not bring any solace to Anna's life. In an interview, she expressed how devastating it was for her: "It wasn't just the end of my marriage; it felt like my whole life came crashing down."

8. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (2022)

Divorce settlement amount: $2,700,000,000 (2.7 billion)
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian

In 2022 Kanye West and Kim Kardashian went through a high-profile divorce settlement which amounted to $2,700 million dollars. This couple has a highly intricate past. Despite getting married in 2014, rumors of an imminent divorce started circulating as early as 2016. Kim had significant concerns about her husband's impulsive actions on social media and in general, along with his firm political stances. This included his meetings with President Trump and even attempting to run for the presidency himself in the USA. Nevertheless, they made efforts to salvage their relationship amidst constant gossip and ongoing speculation about its deterioration. Notably, they also welcomed three more children into their lives while navigating these challenges.

In 2020, Kim publicly addressed her spouse's bipolar disorder for the first time, urging the media to show compassion towards him. The following year, in 2021, she made the difficult decision to file for divorce and stated that it had become an inevitable choice. During interviews, she expressed that ultimately she had to prioritize her own well-being by saying, "In the end I had to do what was best for me." In a later interview conducted in 2023, Kim shared a valuable lesson she learned: that it is impossible to assist those who refuse help.

Kim finds herself grappling with the challenging demeanor of her children's father and feels torn between supporting him or condemning his actions and statements. His choices and behavior leave her feeling frustrated as she navigates through this complex situation.

9. Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Ferris (1999)

Divorce settlement amount: $3,800,000,000 (3.8 billion)
Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Ferris
Alec Wildenstein was an art dealer who passed away in 2008, and his ex-wife, Jocelyn Ferris, is who you may know as the "cat woman", due to the cosmetic surgeries she underwent that gave her the appearance of a cat. The two met through a Saudi arms dealer during a weekend vacation in Kenya. They married in Las Vegas, had 2 children together, and then Jocelyn caught her husband with a 19-year-old Russian model in their bedroom, leading her husband to threaten her with a gun. It's certainly not an ideal end to a relationship, but for Jocelyn it only gets worse from there.
Do not be deceived by the sum of money that Alec paid to his former spouse. Although it may seem like a substantial amount, you will be astonished to discover that Jocelyn managed to exhaust all of it, considering her monthly expenses were approximately one million dollars. Furthermore, after several years had passed, it was revealed that some of the artworks she received as guarantees turned out to be counterfeit. Consequently, their value was considerably lower than what she had initially been promised. And if those revelations weren't enough, the court explicitly stated that she could not utilize any alimony funds for plastic surgery - a devastating blow for her.

10. Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott (2019)

Divorce settlement amount: $38,000,000,000 (38 billion)
Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott

In all the cases we've presented so far, even if you combine all those settelments, it still wouldn't come close to what Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, paid to his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott. Jeff and Mackenzie first crossed paths in 1992 while working together at an investment firm. This was two years before Bezos established Amazon and embarked on his journey toward becoming one of the wealthiest individuals globally.

Jeff and Mackenzie tied the knot in 1993, with Mackenzie providing unwavering support throughout their marriage. In an interview, she reflected on her excitement as Jeff shared his ideas: "When he told me about a concept, what I sensed was his zeal and enthusiasm. For me, witnessing my partner - someone I deeply care for - embark on an adventure; what could be more fulfilling than that? And to be actively involved in it... I couldn't wait to jump right in!"

It's noteworthy that despite all our previous examples combined, none would come close to matching the substantial sum Jeff paid during their divorce settlement. His success with Amazon propelled him into unprecedented financial heights while Mackenzie remained steadfastly by his side throughout their journey as husband and wife.

The couple had been married for a quarter of a century and together they had three sons and adopted a daughter. For the most part, their lives remained private; however, they did share that after many years of working to maintain their relationship, they ultimately decided to get divorced. They emphasized that they have absolutely no regrets about the 25 years they spent together and actually consider themselves fortunate to have known each other, expressing deep appreciation for one another. "Even if we had known back then that we would end up divorcing after 25 years, we would still go through with it," they revealed in an interview.

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