Marriage, as any married couple will tell you, is hard work. Figuring out the balancing act that is sharing your life with another person takes time, effort and constant attention. And sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Divorce is difficult and painful, even when it’s for the best for all the parties involved. Adding fame and celebrity-sized assets to that equation, though? Can take an already messy and unpleasant undertaking to unheard of heights. Here are ten of the nastiest celebrity divorces in the past thirty years.
10) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (2006-2012)
Despite this couple’s strong start, which saw Tom Cruise leaping to new heights (or at least onto couches) to declare his love for Katie, the two didn’t last. Katie Holmes filed for divorce just five days before Tom’s fiftieth birthday, something Cruise would later admit to Hollywood Life that he, like the rest of the world, was blindsided by. The divorce was finalized quickly and TMZ reported that the settlement was less focused on getting Katie Holmes a payday and more on ensuring their daughter, Suri was well looked after, with child support payments totaling a reported $400,000 per year. While it appeared at the time to be a quick and easy divorce, a later lawsuit between Tom Cruise and Bauer Media revealed that one of the reasons Katie filed for divorce was to ensure that Suri was not involved with Scientology, the reclusive religion that Tom Cruise believes in, in any way, which had to cause some strife. But nothing’s been said about it so far, and any tell-all books are far from the publishers.
9) Prince Charles and Princess Diana (1981-1996)
Everyone hopes for a fairytale wedding, and Prince Charles and Lady Diana certainly appeared to have one. But the truth came out over the course of the marriage, where the rumors flew fast and thick: he was still seeing his ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles, she had her own extramarital affairs, she was unstable, he was disinterested, and so on, until the Press nicknamed them ‘The Glums’ on a 1992 trip to Korea. Divorce was predicted as early as 1992, when the two were by all accounts functionally separated, but jointly raising their two children. The BBC reported that the Queen urged them to divorce in 1995, but that while Charles was amenable to the idea, Diana held out. The divorce was finalized in 1996, with Diana being stripped of the title ‘Her Royal Highness’, and being awarded a £17 million (approximately 28 million USD) settlement alongside £350,000 (approximately 584,000 USD) a year to run her office.
8) Kris Humphries & Kim Kardashian (August 2011- October 2011)
When the divorce proceedings last longer than the marriage, it qualifies as something a little more than a ‘bad breakup’. Basketball player Kris Humphries married reality diva Kim Kardashian in Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event, a two-part, four hour reality TV extravaganza in 2011. Seventy-two days later, Kim filed for divorce, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’, which prompted Humphries to announce that he was ‘devastated’ by the news, and willing to do whatever it took to repair the relationship. He quickly changed his tone, though, filing a request for an annulment of the marriage, rather than a divorce, claiming that their marriage was a fraud, designed to boost the ratings of Kim’s reality show, rather than a ceremony meant to join two lovebirds in matrimony. The proceedings dragged on, amidst rumors that Humphries was deliberately stalling and that Kim had started dating Kanye West. The dating rumor proved true, and Kim’s pregnancy in early 2013 added extra incentive for the divorce to go through. Finally, despite Humphries skipping court dates, the divorce was finalized on April 19th, 2013..
7) Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea (1983-2007)
Reality TV does seem to exacerbate divorce proceedings, but that might just be correlation, not causation. Either way, Hulk Hogan and Linda Bollea, stars of the short-lived reality show Hogan Knows Best, are not going to be reuniting anytime soon. Linda filed for divorce in 2007, and according to reports, the first thing wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) heard about it was when the press called for his comment. The proceedings were nasty, complete with allegations of infidelity on Hogan’s part. It took two years, but the pair finally settled out-of-court, with Linda receiving, according to Entertainment Online, $7.44 million of their shared $10.41 million estate, as well as several vehicles and a $3 million property settlement, but no alimony. You’d hope that after two years of battling, the two would leave each other alone, but they were back in court in 2011, over Linda Bollea’s autobiography, Wrestling the Hulk: My Life Against the Ropes, which contended that Hogan was physically abusive, which Hogan categorically denies.
6) Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (2002-2006)
The former Beatle and Heather Mills were married for four years, and when it fell apart, it fell hard. The proceedings were contentious from the start, with Mills accusing McCartney of both emotional and physical abuse. This lead to damning reports and rumors surfacing about Mills as well, most notably allegations that she had once been a call girl. The divorce was finalized in 2008, and the judge expressed doubts about the veracity of Heather’s claims, awarding her only $48.7 million of her asked for $250 million.
5) Kelsey and Camille Grammer (1997-2011)
Lasting for thirteen years, Kelsey and Camille Grammer‘s relationship went down in flames, and about that amicably. Their battles focused on custody of their two children, and the divvying up of the $60 million estate (which was made all the more difficult by the fact that there was no pre-nup). The battle became especially public thanks to Camille’s role on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Kelsey remarried quickly, to Kayte Walsh, who he admitted that he had been having an affair with while he was still married. They both filed for sole custody of their children, and have taken numerous jabs at one another, with Camille remarking on his penis size on Real Housewives and Kelsey telling Conan O’Brian they hadn’t had sex in a decade. They finally finalized their divorce two years ago, and settlement details have been kept quiet.
4) Madonna and Sean Penn (1985-1989)
The marriage between Madonna and Sean Penn was so tumultuous that the press called them things like ‘the poison Penns’ and ‘S&M’. Their marriage was reportedly dogged by their differing views on publicity: she tolerated it, and he hated it to the point of physically assaulting photographers. Penn was also reportedly highly jealous, and even, according to unconfirmed rumors, physically abusive towards Madonna near the end of their marriage. However, the couple divorced in 1989, a reportedly mutual decision, without making any comment about the abuse allegations.
3) Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren (2004-2010)
Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren imploded nastily, raking in tabloid covers as they went. It started rolling with the reveal of Woods numerous affairs and subsequent sex addiction. Shortly after the news of his infidelity hit the airwaves, he was involved in a slow crash in the family Escalade. The rumors were almost instantaneous: that those facial lacerations weren’t a result of the crash, but rather a fight with his wife, who’d also added several dents to the car with a golf club. Nordegren has denied these reports, though. She would later tell People Magazine that she’d hoped to save the marriage, but found the damage irreparable, as she no longer trusted him. In the divorce that followed, Nordegren received a reported $100 million settlement, not counting child support.
2) Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen (2002-2006)
While many of Charlie Sheen‘s relationships have become tumultuous, this one might take the cake. Denise Richards filed for divorce while she was pregnant with their second child, explaining that he was an abusive adult film addict who’d threatened to kill her. He responded by calling her talentless, jobless and sad. The divorce went through, and the two remained on bad terms with each other through to 2008, when he took her to court to try to keep their children from appearing on her reality show. However, by 2012, they were on congenial terms with one another, to the point of working together, with guest appearances on each others projects.
1) Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi (2003-2013)
Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson were granted their preliminary divorce after a hearing lasting only seventy seconds. This is unsurprising, coming as it did in the wake of photos showing Saatchi choking her in public. While Saatchi downplayed the incident, Lawson’s reps declined to comment. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, either, with the couple already embroiled in a legal battle with Lawson’s former assistants, who accused Lawson of being a drug addict. The quickly finalized divorce reportedly left Saatchi ‘devastated’, even, as reported by the UK Telegraph, threatening suicide to try and bring her back. Thus far, however, Lawson has been firm that the relationship is over. And all she took from the divorce? The contents of her kitchen.