When a marriage goes sour, the process of divorce becomes increasingly more complicated when the couple's net worth is in the stratosphere. The absence of an official prenuptial agreement, differences in international law and the circumstances surrounding of the breakup can result in large sums being paid out in the divorce settlement.
Although most settlements don't get finalized until well after the divorce takes place, there is speculation that a possible divorce between Tiger Woods and his wife could cost the world's No. 1 golfer up to $300 million , among the costliest in history. Other breakups that could enter the top rankings include Mel Gibson and Robyn Gibson, whose split has the potential to be the most expensive in Hollywood history, with speculation it could hit $500 million.
15. Kevin Costner and Cindy Silva
Settlement Amount: $80 million
After 16 years of marriage and three children, actor Kevin Costner and wife Cindy Silva decided to end their marriage in 1994. Although the situation was settled privately, Cindy received $80 million from Costner in the wake of the divorce.
14. Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison
Settlement Amount: $85 million
Another costly divorce settlement was the 2004 breakup between actor Harrison Ford and Hollywood regular Melissa Mathison, who was also known for writing the script for Spielberg's E.T. After 18 years of marriage and two children, the couple decided to call it quits in 2004. Without a prenuptial agreement, Mathison was awarded a sum of approximately $85 million.
13. Madonna and Guy Ritchie
Settlement Amount: $76 - $92 Million
In December 2008, pop star Madonna and director Guy Ritchie broke up their marriage of 8 years. Madonna's representatives confirmed the settlement was between $76-$92 million. Although Ritchie was worth an estimated $45 million at the time and said he wasn't interested in a substantial portion of his ex-wife's wealth, the settlement surely wasn't bad news for the successful director.
11. (Tied) Sumner and Phyllis Redstone
Settlement Amount: $100 Million
In a marriage that lasted 52 years, Sumner Redstone, the majority owner and chairman of National Amusements, which owns CBS, Viacom and MTV Networks, went through divorce proceedings with his wife, Phyllis. As the marriage dated back to less-complicated legal and financial times (no prenuptial agreement was signed by either party) reports at the time speculated that Phyllis stood to receive between $1.5 - $2.5 billion.
Although the final amount was never officially made public, the Los Angeles Times reported that Phyllis received only $100 million, citing a source close to the family. Following the 1999 divorce, Redstone eventually remarried Paula Fortunato, another marriage that ended in divorce. This time, however, a prenuptial agreement awarded Ms. Fortunato $5 million, stipulating that she would receive $1 million for every year of marriage.
11. (Tied) Steven Speilberg and Amy Irving
Settlement Amount: $100 million
When they first met in 1984, Spielberg was well into his directing career and Amy Irving was an aspiring actress. Four years later, the couple ended their marriage in a $100 million settlement, which was half of Spielberg's net worth at the time. The couple actually did have a prenuptial agreement, but this was eventually thrown out in court, as it was written on a cocktail napkin and there were no legal witnesses. It turned out to be quite a costly mistake.
10. Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy
Settlement Amount: $103 million
After 25 years of marriage, Australian golfer Greg Norman split with his wife, Laura Andrassy, handing over $103 million in the divorce settlement. Norman left Andrassy in 2006 for Chris Evert, who was the #1 ranked women’s tennis player at one time, but this marriage dissolved after only 15 months.
9. Neil Diamond and Marica Murphey
Settlement Amount: $150 million
After 25 years of marriage, singer Neil Diamond and his then-wife Marcia split in 1996 after rumors of Neil's infidelity encouraged her to file for divorce. In the settlement, although the official numbers were never made public, Diamond has been quoted as saying that Marcia had received $150 million in the divorce.
8. Michael and Juanita Jordan
Settlement Amount: $168 million
Basketball legend Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita split up in 2006 after 17 years of marriage, and one year later came to a divorce settlement of $168 million. The couple considered divorce in January 2002, but reconciled their differences shortly thereafter. At the time, Jordan had been quoted as saying that he was willing to pay a premium to expedite the breakup proceedings.
7. Michael and Maya Polsky
Settlement Amount: $184 million
In 2003, Maya Polsky, wife of Michael Polsky, filed for divorce and wound up settling for $184 million. Polsky, the founder, president and CEO of Invenergy LLC had an estimated $368 million in cash and assets with his wife prior to the divorce, and she got half of it.
The couple, which married in 1975 in the Ukraine, moved to the US in 1976 with little assets and only $500 in cash. Polsky made his fortune by starting various energy companies, including SkyGen Energy (which he sold in 2000 for $450 million) and Invenergy, which is a Chicago-based wind energy company.
6. Roman and Irina Abramovich
Settlement Amount: $300 million
In what had the potential to be the most expensive divorce settlement of all-time, Roman Abramovich's divorce from Irina Abramovich only ended up costing the Russian billionaire $300 million. At the time (2007) Roman was listed by Forbes as the 16th richest man in the world, and it was speculated that Irina could be awarded up to half of her former husband's $18.7 billion. Instead, she was awarded less than 2 percent of his fortune.
Don't feel bad for her, however, as assets are reported to have included cash, mansions in Britain and Moscow, a yacht and a private plane. Reports from the time note that Irina could have gotten more from Roman, citing a 50/50 split of wealth under Russian law, but she had not explicitly tried to get a larger chunk of his holdings.
5. Robert and Sheila Johnson
Settlement Amount: $400 million
Robert Johnson, the co-founder of BET and America's first African-American billionaire, also has one of the biggest divorce settlements in history. After a marriage of over 30 years, the couple split up in 2000 and Sheila received an estimated $400 million in the settlement. Both have continued their business dealings, owning majority stakes in professional men's and women's basketball teams. In 2005, Sheila married William T. Newman Jr., the judge who presided over her original divorce case.
4. Craig and Wendy McCaw
Settlement Amount: $460 million
The Seattle-area businessman and founder of McCaw Cellular, Craig McCaw and his wife Wendy split up, in 1998, just a few years after selling the company to AT&T for between $11-$12 billion. The divorce settlement saw Wendy receive most of her $460 million settlement in Nextel stock, which eventually allowed her to purchase the Santa-Barbara News-Press from the New York Times. When the settlement was finalized, it put her on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, but she soon dropped off after a short run.
3. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi
Settlement Amount: $874 million
For almost two decades, Saudi billionaire entrepreneur and arms dealer Adnan Kasshoggi held the record for the most expensive divorce settlement in history. Although they filed for divorce in 1974, it took Soraya until 1979 to sue - for a sum of $2.54 billion - her ex-husband for the rights to cash in the wake of their breakup.
In 1982, the couple agreed to a settlement that landed British-born Soraya (originally Sandra Daly) $874 million. At one time, Adnan was estimated to be worth $4 billion, but lost his billionaire status in 2007, with no help from his costly divorce.
2. Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone
Settlement Amount: $1-1.2 billion (estimated)
The 2009 divorce between billionarie Bernie Ecclestone and his wife Slavica was initially thought to be the most expensive in history - in the range of $4 billion. But the final settlement is estimated by various reports to be in the range of $1 billion. The settlement has not been made public, but experts from across the globe believe the latter number is more realistic.
Since the settlement, Slavica, a former Armani model who stands nearly a foot taller than her ex-husband, has been buying some new toys with her wealth, now estimated to be £734 million ($1.2 billion) by the Times of London. Part of her recent shopping spree is a new $60 million private plane.
1. Rupert and Anna Murdoch
Settlement Amount: $1.7 billion
The most expensive divorce in the world to date is between Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his former wife, Anna Murdoch (now Anna Murdoch Mann). After a marriage of 32 years and three children together, the couple split up in 1999. Under the settlement, $1.7 billion of Rupert's fortune (which included $110 million in cash) went to Anna.
A mere 17 days after the divorce was finalized, Rupert wed Wendi Deng, 38 years his junior, while Anna married investor William Mann several months later.
Just a few more not included in the list above.