Jeff Bezos-Wife’s Divorce to be Most Expensive Change of Heart?

Jeff Bezos’ divorce threatens to change his position as the richest person in the world. 

2 min read
File photo of Jeff Bezos with wife MacKenzie Bezos.

This Wednesday, 10 January, the world witnessed an announcement about what may be the most expensive change of heart.

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his wife MacKenzie of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, and he have decided to split ways.

What’s At Stake?

More than a year ago, Bezos’ net worth was estimated to be about $137 billion by the Bloomberg Index. He surpassed Bill Gates as the richest person in the world on the same list. But this could change soon.

Jeff and MacKenzie met while working at DE Shaw, a hedge fund in New York. After their marriage, they took a cross-country road trip to Seattle where MacKenzie was at the wheel – and Bezos founded Amazon out of a garage.

The two are residents of Washington state, a “community property state”. This implies that according to state laws, all assets, property, debt acquired over the course of the marriage is split equally by the court if the couple cannot come to an agreement.

Amazon being a company Bezos founded after marriage is eligible for this split.

Since Bezos’ total fortune amounts to $137 Billion, it would mean that MacKenzie is entitled to $69 billion, making her the richest woman. Bezos, on the other hand, would not be the richest person anymore.

Making a big change to the chart, he would then be fourth on the list after Bill Gates as the richest person with a net worth of $93 billion, followed by Warren Buffett at $80.8 billion and Bernard Arnault at $72.6 billion.

But this would occur only if the couple cannot come to an agreement.

“Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends,” said Bezos in his tweet.

So far, all evidence points in the direction of a civil split. That further indicates that even financially the divorce might not be groundbreaking reform.

CNBC spoke with a divorce lawyer who has said it is unlikely that the two split Bezos’ fortune 50-50 since much of his wealth is tied to him continuing to control his Amazon share. Another factor that could strongly alter this situation would be a prenuptial agreement. When the couple got married, they did not have the fortune they do now, but there is a chance they might have still signed a prenup. If so, it is solely the prenup that would navigate the financial course of this very sensational divorce.

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