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Most expensive divorces of all time

  • Most expensive divorces of all time
    1/ George Hodan // Public Domain Pictures

    Most expensive divorces of all time

    They say marriage is sacred, but in divorce all bets are off, and nowhere are the stakes higher than among the uber-wealthy. Sure, in the beginning it’s all vintage wine and overpriced roses, but when Cupid’s arrow falls out, even the holiest of matrimonies can become the bloodiest of legal battles. Mistakes are often compounded in court as the ordeal often takes center stage in an ongoing media circus. By the time the dust settles, the breadwinning party is out millions, sometimes billions. 

    Since all is indeed fair in love and war, Stacker is running down the most expensive divorces of all time, using data from Statista combined with our own independent research. These are the explosive fallouts that made front-page headlines and might one day pop up in history books. Some of the names you already know, others might have flown under your radar. Either way, it all makes for truly entertaining schadenfreude. So pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn, and prepare to indulge in some legitimately epic misfortune.
     

    You may also like: States with the highest divorce rates

  • 34. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall
    2/ Marcel Antonisse // Wikipedia

    34. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall

    Estimated Amount: $15-$25 Million

    Year Annulled: 1999

    Number of Children: 4

    Year Married: 1990

    When confronted by Jerry Hall with a petition for divorce over his repeated adultery, what was iconic rocker Mick Jagger’s response? That they were never married to begin with. As it turned out, he was right, given the couple’s Bali wedding wasn’t accompanied by proper legal documentation. As such, the break-up led to an annulment, not a divorce. Nevertheless, Hall walked away with a sizable chunk of Jagger’s wealth.

  • 33. Johnny Carson and Joanna Holland
    3/ Rollyn Puterbaugh // Wikimedia Commons

    33. Johnny Carson and Joanna Holland

    Estimated Amount: $20 Million

    Year Divorced: 1985

    Number of Children: 0

    Year Married: 1972

    The ink was barely dry on the divorce papers ending Johnny Carson’s second marriage before he hopped into his third with a model named Joanna Holland. According to Carson biographer and lawyer Henry Bushkin, Joanna once uncovered a homemade sex tape featuring her husband with another woman, and then broke everything made of glass in the home. As Carson’s philandering continued, she eventually filed for divorce. After three years of an intense, highly publicized battle, Joanna walked away from the famous late-night host with $20 million in cash and assets.

  • 32. Lionel Richie and Diane Alexander
    4/ DianeSunshineCoast // Wikimedia Commons

    32. Lionel Richie and Diane Alexander

    Estimated Amount: $20 Million

    Year Divorced: 2004

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1995

    R&B star Lionel Richie once crooned about “Endless Love,” but his divorce from Diane Alexander would suggest he wasn’t singing from experience. In order to help sustain Alexander’s lavish lifestyle, which included an annual plastic surgery budget of $20,000Richie would end up paying a $20 million settlement to his former flame. 

  • 31. Donald Trump and Ivana Marie Zelníčková
    5/ Gage Skidmore // Wikipedia

    31. Donald Trump and Ivana Marie Zelníčková

    Estimated Amount: $25 Million

    Year Divorced: 1992

    Number of Children: 3

    Year Married: 1977

    Before becoming one of the most controversial presidents in American history, Donald Trump was an equally bombastic businessman obsessed with maintaining celebrity status. It’s therefore no surprise that Trump’s divorce from his second wife, Ivana, was headline fodder for months on end. While the two officially separated in 1992, Ivana claims to have known the marriage was over as early as 1989, when a blonde woman approached her out of nowhere and said, “I'm Marla [Maples] and I love your husband. Do you?"

  • 30. Kelsey Grammer and Camille Donatacci
    6/ Tenebrae // Wikimedia Commons

    30. Kelsey Grammer and Camille Donatacci

    Estimated Amount: $30 Million

    Year Divorced: 2011

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1997

    Most often, the media circus begins after the divorce is announced, but with Kelsey and Camille Grammer there was already one underway. That’s because Camille was starring on Bravo’s "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" when she discovered her famous actor husband was seeing another woman, which lent the ordeal a shocking real-time dimension. Kelsey would later go on to say that his ex-wife had a proclivity for chasing fame, and that her appearance on the reality show was his “parting gift.” 

  • 29. Ted Danson and Casey Coates
    7/ Rob Dicaterino // Wikimedia Commons

    29. Ted Danson and Casey Coates

    Estimated Amount: $30 Million

    Year Divorced: 1993

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1977

    Ted Danson’s marriage to Casey Coates encountered some early trauma in 1979, when Coates suffered a stroke while giving birth to their first daughter. The "Cheers" and "Becker" star would spend the following years helping his wife recover from the paralyzing setback. In 1993, an affair with actress Whoopi Goldberg ended Danson’s marriage to the reported tune of $30 million.

  • 28. Michael Douglas and Diandra Luker
    8/ U.S. Department of State // Wikimedia Commons

    28. Michael Douglas and Diandra Luker

    Estimated Amount: $45 Million

    Year Divorced: 1995

    Number of Children: 1

    Year Married: 1977

    Actor Michael Douglas doesn’t blame bad marriage counseling for his 1995 divorce from Diandra Luker, but does blame their marriage counselor for taking the relationship well past its expiration date. In 2013, Douglas explained it took him “far too long to realize that if you go to a marriage counselor to resolve problems, it’s in his interest to keep the marriage going.” Eventually, Luker would receive a $45 million settlement in the divorce while Michael Douglas would end up marrying Catherine Zeta-Jones.

  • 27. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
    9/ kubacheck // Flickr

    27. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

    Estimated Amount: $48.6 Million

    Year Divorced: 2008

    Number of Children: 1

    Year Married: 2002

    As a Beatle, Paul McCartney once sang “the love you take is equal to the love you make,” which makes us wonder just how much love-making equated to the $48.6 million settlement Heather Mills received in the divorce. The prolonged fallout was widely and endlessly publicized, in part because of McCartney’s iconic status, but also because Mills routinely spoke to the press. Among Mills’ many public accusations was the claim that McCartney once prohibited her from breastfeeding, declaring that her breasts belonged to him and him alone

  • 26. James Cameron and Linda Hamilton
    10/ Angela George // Wikimedia Commons

    26. James Cameron and Linda Hamilton

    Estimated Amount: $50 million

    Year Divorced: 1999

    Number of Children: 1

    Year Married: 1997

    Like one of James Cameron’s own blockbuster movies, his marriage to actress Linda Hamilton was explosive, expensive, part of an ongoing series, and over in no time at all. Hamilton would later go on to describe living with Cameron as a walking nightmare due to insecurities and (presumably) control issues. She even gave away her big diamond wedding ring as soon as the divorce was official. As for the $50 million settlement? That, she probably held onto.

  • 25. Kenny Rogers and Marianne Gordon
    11/ University of Houston // Wikimedia Commons

    25. Kenny Rogers and Marianne Gordon

    Estimated Amount: $60 million

    Year Divorced: 1993

    Number of Children: 1

    Year Married: 1977

    Five-times married country star Kenny Rogers bears no ill will toward ex-wife Marianne Gordon following a $60 million divorce settlement. The two met when Rogers was in First Edition and $60,000 in debt. In spite of their financial struggles, Gordon stood by her man and supported him as he pursued a solo career. Soon enough, Rogers rocketed to wealth by way of hit singles and successful chicken franchises. He attributes the end of the marriage on the fact that Gordon stayed home to take care of their newborn son while he went on tour, causing their lifestyles to drift apart in the process

  • 24. Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva
    12/ Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr. // Wikimedia Commons

    24. Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva

    Estimated Amount: $80 million

    Year Divorced: 1994

    Number of Children: 3

    Year Married: 1978

    It was love at first sight when Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva met as college students at the Delta Chi fraternity house in 1975, marrying two and a half years later. However, Costner’s subsequent success as a film star put continuous friction on the marriage, causing rifts as early as 1987. By 1994 it was all over. Costner walked away with his movie career. Cindy walked away with $80 million.

  • 23. Dr. Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai
    13/ George Hodan // Public Domain Pictures

    23. Dr. Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai

    Estimated Amount: $80 million

    Year Divorced: 2012

    Number of Children: 3

    Year Married: 1970

    She was a former Malaysian beauty queen with an obsessive shoe-collecting habit. He was a Chinese businessman who made a fortune on Laura Ashley and allegedly spent up to four hours on the toilet at a time. Suffice to say, the divorce between Dr. Khoo Kay Peng and Pauline Chai was epic, with the hefty price tag to show for it.

  • 22. Madonna and Guy Ritchie
    14/ Author Siebbi // Wikimedia Commons

    22. Madonna and Guy Ritchie

    Estimated Amount: $76-$92 million

    Year Divorced: 2008

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 2000

    In most of the high profile divorce cases on this list, it’s the husband who paid the settlement. Not so with Madonna, whose decades-long career as a global pop star made her the breadwinner in her marriage to director Guy Ritchie. Given how both individuals had a proclivity for absolute control, the marriage was most likely doomed from the start. Accordingly, the two argued over religion, careers, adoption, and possibly whether they wanted blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. A widely publicized divorce inevitably followed, as did an intense, prolonged custody battle over their son Rocco.

  • 21. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren
    15/ Keith Allison // Flickr

    21. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

    Estimated Amount: $100 million

    Year Divorced: 2010

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 2004

    Few divorces are as legendary as the one between pro golfer Tiger Woods and Swedish stunner Elin Nordegren. Their five-year marriage literally came crashing to a halt after a physical altercation in 2009, which prompted Woods to flee the home and then slam his SUV into a fire hydrant after Elin discovered he had been anything but faithful. The prenup was torn to shreds and Nordegren walked away with $100 million, or $20 million for each year they were together.

  • 20. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving
    16/ Gage Skidmore // Wikimedia Commons

    20. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving

    Estimated Amount: $100 million

    Year Divorced: 1989

    Number of Children: 1

    Year Married: 1985

    Given his indisputable success as a director, producer, and businessman, one might never imagine Steven Spielberg signing a prenuptial agreement written on a napkin. Yet that’s exactly what he did before marrying actress Amy Irving in 1985. Irving would later argue in court that she didn’t have a lawyer present when signing the impromptu prenup, which ended up putting a whopping $100 million settlement in her hands, half of Spielberg’s estate at the time. 

  • 19. Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy
    17/ Tommy Gilligan // Wikimedia Commons

    19. Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy

    Estimated Amount: $103 million

    Year Divorced: 2007

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1981

    Greg Norman was married to Laura Andrassy for 25 years until she caught him cheating with a woman named Kirsten Kutner. As a result, Norman and Andrassy were divorced, with the Australian pro golfer coughing up $103 million in the settlement. However, that didn’t mean an end to the drama, as years later Norman ended up marrying Kutner and further aggravated his ex-wife in the process.

  • 18. Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison
    18/ Gage Skidmore // Flickr

    18. Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison

    Estimated Amount: $118 million

    Year Divorced: 2004

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1983

    What began as a mid-life crisis ended in a supremely expensive divorce for movie star Harrison Ford. Citing “irreconcilable differences,” he and screenwriter Melissa Mathison ended their supposedly rock-solid marriage in 2004. Once liberated from the chains of matrimony, Ford reportedly went on an epic drinking and strip club tour that even included stops in Kansas

  • 17. Frank McCourt and Jamie Luskin
    19/ Frederick Dennstedt // Wikimedia Commons

    17. Frank McCourt and Jamie Luskin

    Estimated Amount: $130 million

    Year Divorced: 2011

    Number of Children: 4

    Year Married: 1979

    Touted as the costliest divorce in California history, the split between Frank and Jamie McCourt was about far more than just money. As co-owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the McCourts engaged in a vicious battle over their individual stakes in the franchise. Wild accusations were thrown both ways while the press ate up every word. Eventually, Jamie McCourt relinquished her claim to ownership for a cool $130 million. It’s estimated that over $34 million in legal fees were racked up throughout the proceedings.

  • 16. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphey
    20/ Neal Whitehouse Piper // Wikimedia Commons

    16. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphey

    Estimated Amount: $150 million

    Year Divorced: 1995

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1969

    Neil Diamond might have been singing about “Sweet Caroline,” but it was a girl named Marcia Murphey who stole his heart in 1969. Their marriage lasted 26 years and yielded two sons before the couple called it quits in 1995. Thanks to an impressive catalog of popular songs, Diamond was wealthy enough to pay out $150 million in the divorce, an exceptionally high sum for its time. As to why the singer was feeling so generous, he would later claim that guilt was the primary motivating factor.

  • 15. Boris Berezovsky and Galina Besharova
    21/ George Mel // Wikimedia Commons

    15. Boris Berezovsky and Galina Besharova

    Estimated Amount: $160 million

    Year Divorced: 2010

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1991

    Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and his ex-wife Galina Besharova were separated for 16 whole years before making it official in 2010. The reason? Besharova had grown too annoyed with everyone referring to Berezovsky’s girlfriend as his wife. The divorce itself was supposedly granted in just 45 seconds, though the settlement details took much longer to hash out. Ultimately, Besharova walked away with $160 million, said to be the largest settlement in Britain’s history.

  • 14. Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy
    22/ Cliff // Flickr

    14. Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy

    Estimated Amount: $168 million

    Year Divorced: 2006

    Number of Children: 3

    Year Married: 1989

    Basketball legend Michael Jordan and Juanita Vanoy had been married thirteen years and had three children when they first decided to divorce in 2002. However, the couple reconciled soon after, with the marriage lasting another four years before officially falling apart in 2006. The decision was reportedly mutual, and Jordan’s estimated payout of $168 million was the largest celebrity divorce settlement of its time.

  • 13. Michael and Maya Polsky
    23/ Pexels

    13. Michael and Maya Polsky

    Estimated Amount: $184 million

    Year Divorced: 2007

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1975

    According to court records, Ukrainian couple Michael and Maya Polsky arrived in the United States in 1976 with four suitcases and $500 in cash. A few years later, Michael achieved massive wealth in the energy industry, making him a multi-millionaire. During their divorce proceedings, which lasted years, Maya argued that as someone who provided Michael with “love, support, advice, and counsel,” she was integral to his accumulated wealth. The court eventually agreed, awarding her $184 million for her troubles. 

  • 12. Charles and Marlene Fipke
    24/ Nick Youngson // NY Photographic

    12. Charles and Marlene Fipke

    Estimated Amount: $200 million

    Year Divorced: 2000

    Number of Children: 5

    Year Married: 1966

    They say diamonds last forever; marriages, not so much. Famed Canadian diamond prospector Charles (or Chuck) Fipke, who discovered one of the world’s biggest diamond mines and reaped a subsequent fortune, split from wife Marlene after over thirty years of marriage. Marlene, who’d accompanied Chuck on expeditions, dried core samples in the kitchen, and even handled the accounting, was granted a controlling interest in her husband’s diamond company.

  • 11. Roman Abramovich and Irina Malandina
    25/ John Dobson // Wikimedia Commons

    11. Roman Abramovich and Irina Malandina

    Estimated Amount: $300 million

    Year Divorced: 2007

    Number of Children: 5

    Year Married: 1991

    The rule goes that in the case of a divorce with no prenuptial agreement, the spouse is entitled to half of the breadwinner’s earnings. That turned out to be bad news for Roman Abramovich, who’d amassed virtually his entire $10.2 billion fortune during his 16-year marriage to former stewardess Irina Malandina. Thankfully for Roman, Irina wasn’t feeling particularly aggressive. To get the whole thing over with, she agreed to a quick settlement of $300 million. 

  • 10. Robert Johnson and Sheila Crump
    26/ David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

    10. Robert Johnson and Sheila Crump

    Estimated Amount: $400 million

    Year Divorced: 2002

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1969

    They say people in relationships should never work together, but Robert Johnson and Sheila Crump would probably be a lot less wealthy had they heeded such advice. The married couple co-founded BET in 1980 and took in a collective fortune. But alas, time-tested adages prevailed, and things turned ugly in the '90s when Robert Johnson fired his wife from her own company. Meanwhile, rumors of Johnson’s infidelity persisted. He would end up selling BET for $3 billion to Viacom in 2001 and divorcing his wife soon after.

  • 9. Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore
    27/ Alan Light // Flickr

    9. Mel Gibson and Robyn Moore

    Estimated Amount: $425 million

    Year Divorced: 2011

    Number of Children: 7

    Year Married: 1980

    He might be a devout Catholic with a self-produced film to show for it, but even Mel Gibson struggled to maintain his marital vows. After seven children and 26 years of marriage, Gibson and wife Robyn Moore separated in 2006, on the heels Gibson’s infamous Malibu drunk driving incident. Three years later, Moore came across tabloid photos of her famous husband with another woman and officially filed for divorce. Gibson would eventually settle for an estimated $425 million, considered the largest payout in Hollywood history.

  • 8. Craig McCaw and Wendy Petrak
    28/ Warren Mell // Wikimedia Commons

    8. Craig McCaw and Wendy Petrak

    Estimated Amount: $460 million

    Year Divorced: 1997

    Number of Children: 0

    Year Married: 1974

    The divorce proceedings were so wide in scope between entrepreneurs Craig and Wendy McCaw, that the law firm Wendy hired claimed it was their second or third largest case ever, coming in right behind the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Apparently, there were enough documents uncovered during litigation to essentially fill a warehouse. In the end, Wendy walked with $460 million (most of it in Nextel stock) and the private jet.

  • 7. Dmitry and Elena Rybolovlev
    29/ Francknataf // Wikimedia Commons

    7. Dmitry and Elena Rybolovlev

    Estimated Amount: $604 million

    Year Divorced: 2015

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1985

    Dmitry Rybolovlev made a fortune in potassium among other things, and began to enjoy his newfound lifestyle by reportedly attending opulent yacht parties filled with oligarchs and young women. Rybolovlev’s wife Elena wasn’t amused, and she petitioned for divorce in 2008. Her actions kicked off a prolonged series of litigations, which resulted in a spectacular $4.5 billion settlement in 2014. However, that amount was quickly and successfully appealed by Dmitry, and then subsequently reduced.

  • 6. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi
    30/ Roland Godefroy // Wikimedia Commons

    6. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi

    Estimated Amount: $874 million

    Year Divorced: 1982

    Number of Children: 5

    Year Married: 1961

    Before she was the wife of a Saudi Arabian arms-dealing billionaire, her name was Sandra Daly. The illegitimate daughter of a British waitress, Sandra married Adnan Khashoggi, converted to Islam, changed her name to Soraya, and began living a life she could have only dreamed of. Both her beauty and spending habits were the stuff of legend, and she counts Warren Beatty himself among her former lovers. In spite of winning $874 million in a 1984 settlement (reportedly the biggest payout of its time), Soraya was living the modest life of a flower shop owner by the mid-aughts.

  • 5. Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall
    31/ David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

    5. Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Arnall

    Estimated Amount: $974.8 million

    Year Divorced: 2015

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1988

    After a long separation and contentious divorce battle, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm handed his wife Sue Ann a personal check for $975 million. Worried it would interfere with her current appeal, Sue Ann’s initial response was a firm rejection. After giving it some more thought, however, she ended up depositing the check and settling the divorce. As for Harold Hamm, he was probably relieved, given his estimated worth of over $8 billion at the time (a number that’s only gone up since).

  • 4. Steve Wynn and Elaine Pascal
    32/ User1964 // Wikimedia Commons

    4. Steve Wynn and Elaine Pascal

    Estimated Amount: $1 billion

    Year Divorced: 2010

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1963

    Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn and wife Elaine first divorced in the mid-80s, only to remarry in 1991, and then divorce again in 2010. The second time around was far more brutal, with the couple battling fiercely over shares of Wynn Resorts LTD. Elaine eventually secured a 9.4% stake in the company, but then later sued her husband on the grounds that he was blocking her from controlling her own shares.

  • 3. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radic
    33/ uppure // Wikimedia Commons

    3. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Radic

    Estimated Amount: $1.2 billion

    Year Divorced: 2009

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1985

    The divorce between Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone and his discernibly tall, model wife, Slavica Radic, was a tricky one. Initially, it seemed that Bernie was ordered to pay over a billion dollars to Slavica as per the settlement agreement. However, as it turned out, much of the wealth was in trust funds under Slavica’s name, and so it was Slavica who began paying Bernie up to $100 million a year. It’s all part of a rich, questionable family saga going back years and apparently continuing to this day.

  • 2. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv
    34/ David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

    2. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv

    Estimated Amount: $1.7 billion

    Year Divorced: 1999

    Number of Children: 3

    Year Married: 1967

    While frequently pointed to as the second-costliest divorce of all time, at least one journalist would later claim that the settlement between media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and second wife Anna was far less outlandish than reports would suggest. However, to this day the legacy of the $1.7 billion payout persists, and who are we to argue with a good story? Regardless of specifics, it’s safe to say that Anna was handsomely rewarded for time served with a man she described as being “hard, ruthless, and determined.” In keeping with his reputation, Murdoch allegedly walked out on the marriage in 1999 and hasn’t spoken to his ex-wife since

  • 1. Alec and Jocelyn Wildenstein
    35/ celebrityabc // Flickr

    1. Alec and Jocelyn Wildenstein

    Estimated Amount: $3.8 billion

    Year Divorced: 1999

    Number of Children: 2

    Year Married: 1978

    If one ever wonders how the rich and famous manage to spend all their money, look no further than the lifestyles of Jocelyn Périsset Wildenstein. That was just one of the many aspects making her 1999 divorce from billionaire Alec Wildenstein pure catnip for the media. Equally compelling were the reported tales of $350,000 dresses and tigers in glass caves. One other huge thing the media latched onto? That gargantuan $3.8 billion settlement, of course, considered the largest in world history. 

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