Billionaire couple Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage, sparking immediate speculation as to how their massive fortune will be divided up.
If MacKenzie Bezos receives half of her husband’s assets, she would be worth more than $68 billion.
MacKenzie Bezos could become the fifth-richest person in the world by virtue of her divorce settlement in the event she receives half of her husband, Jeff Bezos’s, assets.
On January 9, the pair announced they would be separating after 25 years of marriage and have not provided reasons for their divorce.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 9, 2019
Jeff and MacKenzie live in Washington state, one of nine US states where everything acquired throughout the marriage – from real estate to income – is considered joint property. That means their assets could be split 50/50, unlike in the other 41 states, where a marital estate is made up of assets acquired under each spouse’s name and isn’t considered joint property unless both names are on the deed.
The current richest woman is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who controls 33% of L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics maker, and is worth $45.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. According to Forbes, however, Meyers is worth $44.7 billion, putting her slightly behind Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, worth $44.8 billion.
Either way, MacKenzie Bezos’s net worth could potentially surpass both of theirs after the divorce.
Forbes Africa reports it is not yet clear how the divorce will impact his net worth, or whether it will affect his stake in Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded in 1994. The 54-year-old owns roughly 16% of the business in addition to owning the Washington Post and rocket company Blue Origin.
Even if MacKenzie were awarded half of his Amazon stake, Jeff has the option to pay her the monetary equivalent of what the shares are worth.
The Amazon founder and CEO, whose divorce is currently making headlines, was only 30 when he came up with the idea to create Amazon. He was just one year into his marriage, at the time. “I told my wife MacKenzie that I wanted to quit my job and go do this crazy thing that probably wouldn’t work since most startups don’t, and I wasn’t sure what would happen,” Bezos told.
The executive is likely no longer consulting his wife on his next business move; in fact their 25-year-old marriage is over. And the resulting divorce of Jeff Bezos from MacKenzie Bezos is likely to become the largest in history, since his fortune is estimated to be $137 billion. Because Bezos founded Amazon during his marriage, his entire ownership stake in the company could be deemed to be marital property, and subject to division in the divorce dispute. It has been reported that the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement.
So the Bezos divorce begs the question: Did they have a post-nuptial agreement, and what can we learn from this very public news about the richest man alive? What should Jeff Bezos have done, or what should any entrepreneur in a similar position do, to ensure that instability at home has no negative impact on the operation or value of the company the entrepreneur founded?
The pair both attended Princeton but only met after graduation while working at investment firm D.E. Shaw. They married in 1993 and moved to Seattle in 1994. They have four children together.
MacKenzie majored in creative writing while at Princeton and later went to serve as a research assistant to Toni Morrison.