THE world’s richest man Jeff Bezos could be facing the biggest divorce bill in history after announcing yesterday that his 25-year marriage is over.
The Amazon boss — worth about $137billion (£107billion) — said in a joint statement with his wife MacKenzie that the split was amicable.
But, after being at his side since before he founded the web giant, she has a strong claim to half his fortune.
Such a payout would smash the record £3billion reportedly given by French businessman Alec Wildenstein to plastic surgery devotee Jocelyn after their 1999 split. MacKenzie, 48, will be the richest single woman on the planet if she gets anywhere near $68billion.
James Ferguson, of London law firm Boodle Hatfield, said: ‘Whether or not MacKenzie Bezos is entitled to 50 per cent of Jeff Bezos’s shares in Amazon is the $68billion question.
‘With Amazon having been built entirely during Jeff Bezos’s 25-year marriage, it might be difficult for him to argue that his wife is not entitled to half of their wealth. That may include his shares.’
The US couple, who have three sons and an adopted daughter from China, said they would stay the best of friends despite their marriage ending.
The statement was compared online to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s 2014 announcement of their ‘conscious uncoupling’.
It said: ‘After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it again. We’ve had such a great life together and we see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures.’
Mr Bezos, 54, who owns the biggest house in Washington DC, had an office romance with MacKenzie when they worked at a New York investment firm.
They married in 1993 — just six months after their first date — and she later said she fell in love with him because of the sound of his laugh.
Mr Bezos has said she gave him vital support when he quit his job to launch Amazon with the internet in its infancy. ‘Even before she could say “what’s the internet?” she said “great — let’s go”,’ he revealed to Business Insider.