Everyone knows that a divorce is one of the most unpleasant things you can go through. No matter who you are, what you do, and whose fault it is, splitting up with your spouse is never easy and it can definitely get a little messy. Kids are probably the number one factor involved in complicating the whole matter. But apart from that, a divorce also means dividing the couple’s money and other assets between them. And we all know that when money’s involved, it’s almost certainly going to get dirty. Of course, in most cases it just comes down to who gets the house, who gets the car, and how to split the savings. And alimony, of course. But, as the old saying says, “celebrities are just like us,” so they also get divorced from time to time. That’s where the ordinary stops, because when your break-up is on the front page of every tabloid and you’re fighting your ex for a spot on the Forbes list, it’s definitely not going to be a smooth ride.
These divorces were all very public, full of twists and turns, and above all, very very expensive. Each side had an army of lawyers working 24/7 in order to get the biggest piece of the pie, and for some, the payout was indeed massive. Let’s find out who got ripped off, who won the divorce jackpot, and what the stories behind some of the most costly break-ups were.
15. Lionel Richie & Diane – $20 million
After 7 years of marriage, the multi-platinum-selling singer and his second wife, Diane Alexander, called it quits and decided to end a relationship that started almost 17 years before, while Lionel was still married to his first wife. Diane was actually the one who ended their marriage, as Brenda Harvey, his wife at the time, discovered the two of them together in a Beverly Hills hotel room. Unfortunately, it seems that the “legendary singer is not a big family man,” as he blamed his marital problems on his “workaholic attitude” which led him to neglect his wives in the process. The couple’s divorce garnered a huge media coverage, as the lavish divorce settlement that Diane received was definitely newsworthy. After a prolonged legal dispute, she was awarded the couple’s $5 million mansion and a lump sum of $20 million, poking a big hole in the artist’s hard-earned fortune.
14. Donald Trump & Ivana – $25 million
Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana, were the it couple of NYC during the 80’s. She was a beautiful European fashion model and he was the young business tycoon with the Midas touch. During their 15 years together, they had three children—Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. Ivana was very involved in the Trump Organisation taking the position of Vice-President of Interior Design and working on the flagship Trump Tower. She filed for divorce in 1991 amidst rumors of Donald’s reported affair with Marla Maples, a former beauty queen from Georgia, who went on to become Trump’s second wife. The heavily publicized break-up was settled in 1992. And while the settlement remains sealed by the courts, it is believed that Ivana pocketed around $25 million from her ex-husband. The two of them maintained a good relationship over the years, as Trump even hosted Ivana’s 2008 wedding at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
13. Michael Douglas & Diandra – $45 million
The Hollywood A-lister married Diandra Lukas back in 1977, when she was only 19. The daughter of an Austrian diplomat, Diandra had one son with Michael, born only one year after they were married. Their marriage lasted for 23 years, as they separated in 1995, but divorced in 2000. As part of the settlement, she received approximately half of the actor’s net worth, or about $45 million. As if that wasn’t enough, it appears she recently went after some of his earnings from the Wall Street movies. Of course, we all know that when it comes to Hollywood divorces, Money Never Sleeps.
12. Paul McCartney & Heather Mills – $48.7 million
The legendary Beatle married Heather Mills in 2002 and separated from her 4 years later. Their divorce finalized in 2008, and Heather reportedly got $48.7 million from her ex-husband. Also, McCartney is obligated to pay Heather $70,000 a month for their daughter, Beatrice. Of course, the 74-year-old rock ‘n’ roll legend doesn’t really mind these payments, as he’s thought to be the richest musician alive with a net worth of more than $1 billion. He recently sued Sony for the rights to some of The Beatles’ songs, and if he wins, he might see his fortune climb even higher.
11. Kevin Costner & Cindy – $80 million
Kevin Costner married his college sweetheart, Cindy Silva, in 1978 while the two were still attending California State University. At the time, Kevin didn’t start his incredible career as an actor yet. The couple’s life changed dramatically after he had his big break portraying Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, and a few years later conquered the Oscars with Dancing with Wolves, a movie that brought Kevin two Academy Awards. He and Cindy had three children together. From the outside, they seemed to have had a very happy family despite the pressure and drama of Hollywood life. However, that was not the case, as Kevin and Cindy divorced 16 years after they exchanged vows due to irreconcilable differences. Given that Kevin amassed practically all of his fortune after he married Cindy, and that there was no prenup, she reportedly walked away with $80 million, about half of Costner’s net worth at the time.
10. Madonna & Guy Ritchie – $76-$92 million
The marriage between the English filmmaker and the “Queen of Pop” lasted only 7 years, during which they had one child, Rocco, and adopted a Malawian baby boy, David. It was also a very productive time for Madonna, as the singer released 4 new albums and had 3 sold-out world tours. Lucky for Guy, the couple didn’t have a prenuptial agreement. He reportedly got between $76 and $92 million as part of the divorce settlement. This one is definitely a rule-breaker, as there are not many divorces where the wife pays up her ex-husband, and there is definitely not another one of this magnitude.
9. Steven Spielberg & Amy Irving – $100 million
Steven Spielberg first met actress Amy Irving at the suggestion of fellow director Brian de Palma, who recommended her for a part in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although she didn’t get the part, as she was too young at the time, Spielberg fell in love with her and they started dating, with her eventually moving into his house. They broke up after living together for 4 years, but got back together 5 years later, when they also married. The couple had a son, Max Samuel, but continuously complained about their packed schedules and the challenges of family life in Hollywood. So, after only 3 and a half years, they agreed to divorce. However, at least Amy can’t say she regrets her short marriage to the legendary director, as her settlement amounted to approximately $100 million, which might seem like a whole lot of money, but it’s actually just a drop in the bucket for Spielberg, whose illustrious career netted him more than $5 billion.
8. Neil Diamond & Marcia Murphey – $150 million
Neil fell in love with TV producer Marcia Murphey while he was still married to his first wife, Jane Posner. He separated from Jane in 1967 and divorced her in 1969, marrying Marcia in the same year. The two of them had two sons, Jesse and Micah, as their marriage lasted over 25 years. As the two didn’t have a prenup, Marcia walked away with half of Neil’s earnings, or about $150 million. It might seem like Neil got a little ripped off, but it seems he doesn’t regret anything about his time with Marcia, as he stated after the divorce that “she’s worth every penny.”
7. Michael Jordan & Juanita – $168 million
His Airness first met model Juanita Vanoy at a restaurant in Chicago in 1984 and they got married 5 years later in Las Vegas. It was the first marriage for both of them, and they went on to have three kids—Jeffrey, Marcus, and Jasmine. In 2002, Juanita filed for divorce, but Michael persuaded her to withdraw the petition and try to reconcile. Sadly, after 4 more years of trial and failure they mutually agreed on a divorce. As part of the settlement, Juanita received a lump sum of $168 million, on top of the couple’s seven acre Chicago mansion and custody of their three children. It’s believed that Juanita could’ve gotten a lot more from Jordan as they had signed a post-nuptial agreement that entitled her to half of his fortune, estimated at over $1 billion. However, she definitely won’t be having any money problems anytime soon.
6. Roman Abramovich & Irina – $300 million
Roman Abramovich married his second wife, former stewardess Irina, in 1991 and divorced her 16 years later, after having 5 children together. Given the fact that the Russian oligarch was at the time considered to be the richest man living within the United Kingdom, it was clear that Irina would receive a hefty settlement with people estimating that it could go as high as $5 billion amid rumors of Abramovich having an affair with Dasha Zhukova, daughter of prominent Russian businessman, Alexander Radkin Zhukova. Their divorce was finalized in March 2007 with the settlement reported as being around $300 million. The next year, Abramovich married Dasha and they currently have two children, Aaron Alexander and Leah Lou.
5. Mel Gibson & Robyn – $425 million
After 26 years of marriage, Mel Gibson and his ex-wife, Robyn Moore, got divorced, putting an end to what seemed to be one of Hollywood’s happiest and longest-standing marriages. However, things have not been well in the Gibson household for some time, before Robyn finally decided to file for divorce. The last straw was probably when Mel was arrested for DUI in 2006 or when photos of him with his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva surfaced. Because they were very young at the time of their marriage and didn’t have so much money, the former couple didn’t sign a prenup, and Robyn ended up getting half of Mel’s fortune in the divorce, about $425 million. His life only went downhill from here, as he briefly dated Oksana, before she got a restraining order after claiming she experienced domestic abuse from the actor. At the time, it was a huge scandal as Mel was dropped by his agency, seemingly putting an ugly end to his legendary career. Lately, it seems as though he found his way back, landing a supporting role in The Expendables 3 and getting back to directing with box-office hit Hacksaw Ridge.
4. Adnan Khashoggi & Soraya – $850 million
Adnan Khashoggi was once thought to be one of the richest men in the world, making most of his money as commissions for brokering international arms deals. He met his first wife, Sandra Patricia, in the high social circles of the 60’s and she converted to Islam, changing her name to Soraya Khashoggi as the two got married. At the height of his wealth, Adnan owned 17 homes, 3 planes, and 3 yachts. Estimates of his net worth went as high as $40 billion. However, his gambling habit and the hefty divorce settlement he paid Soraya in 1982, combined with his lavish spending, brought his fortune to a modest size compared to his best days. Apparently Soraya sued him for $2.54 billion, but was awarded “only” $874 million, still enough to make it the most expensive divorce ever at the time.
3. Harold Hamm & Sue Ann – $974.8 million
Harold Hamm married economist Sue Ann Arnall in April 1988 and the couple had two daughters—Jane and Hillary. During their marriage, she was heavily involved in Harold’s oil production company, Continental Resources. Even though Harold claims that they had separated in 2005, she didn’t file for divorce until May 2012. The legal battle between the two went on for over 2 years, with Sue finally accepting his settlement check of $974.8 million, after refusing it once in order to try and get a bigger portion of his reported $13.4 billion fortune. However, it doesn’t seem that Harold regrets the fat check he wrote for his ex-wife, stating in an interview with CNBC that it “got the job done.”
2. Bernie Ecclestone & Slavica – $1.2 billion
Bernie Ecclestone married former Armani model, Slavica Radic, in 1984 after she became pregnant with their first daughter, Tamara. Their love story lasted for 23 years, until Slavica moved out of the family home and filed for divorce. At that time, it was quite a problem for the man nicknamed “The F1 Supremo” as most of his net worth was held under Slavica’s name in offshore accounts. However, it appears that he managed to keep more than two-thirds of the fortune he amassed in the 40 years he controlled the Formula 1 competition. Also, Slavica’s cooperation during the whole divorce process was rewarded with a whooping $1.2 billion that she got to keep as part of the settlement.
1. Alec Wildenstein & Jocelyn – $2.5 billion
Alec Wildenstein was the young heir of the Wildenstein family fortune, estimated at about $10 billion, when he met New York socialite Jocelyn Périsset at his family’s 66,000-acre ranch in Kenya. One year later, the two of them got married and stayed together for 20 years, during which they had two children—Alec Jr. and Diane. Their divorce proceedings took 2 years to finalize and gained huge media coverage for revelations about their lavish spending habits and Jocelyn’s obsession with plastic surgery. It is estimated that she got as much as $2.5 billion from her ex-husband’s family fortune, although the exact amount was never confirmed. From then on, she gained notoriety for the extensive cosmetic surgeries she had to her face, being nicknamed “catwoman” by the media for her very unnatural look. It’s rumored that she spent $4 million on plastic surgeries over the years, and although most people think her appearance is grotesque, she is reported to be happy with the results.