Citadel founder's divorce battle over property gets uglier

Ken Griffin
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Ken Griffin

In the latest chapter of what is shaping up to be a particularly ugly billionaire divorce, Chicago hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin has challenged his estranged wife's claims on his private planes, real estate, and credit cards, arguing that the mother of his three children has $50 million in personal wealth herself and that he won't continue supporting Anne Dias Griffin in "whatever lifestyle she chooses."

In a 23-page filing lodged late Wednesday in a Cook County, Ill. circuit court, Ken Griffin -- whose wife on October 2 asked, among other things, for a temporary restraining order to bar him from entering her current residence – moves to dismiss that and other claims.

"Anne's petition is nothing more than a plea for this Court to require Ken to fund her affluent lifestyle, notwithstanding her own substantial wealth, and notwithstanding the premarital agreement in which she knowingly and voluntarily waived any right to spousal support or maintenance from Ken," Griffin writes in his filing. Given Dias Griffin's own means, which Griffin estimates in the filing to be "approximately $50 million or more," his wife, herself a onetime hedge-fund manager and active philanthropist, is amply capable of supporting herself, he asserts.

Attorneys for Dias Griffin could not immediately be reached for comment. A representative for Griffin declined to comment.

Griffin states in the new filing that in spite of tough allegations by Dias Griffin that he has threatened to "crush her" with their prenuptial agreement or "destroy" her in the divorce proceedings, the arguments the two have had are in fact "at most an ordinary level of discord and disagreement between two parties involved in divorce litigation." The filing goes on to cite a prior case determining that "becoming 'angry, upset, and loud' does not constitute harassment or abuse."

A central issue in the dissolution of the marriage appears to be three floors of a tony building on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue where the couple and their children, the youngest of whom is just two, live. Dias Griffin has claimed in court documents that she and the children – of which she describes herself as the primary caregiver – reside on the 66th, 67th and 68th floors of that building, and that her estranged husband has no right to enter the residence without her consent. As a result, after Griffin entered the residence on more than one occasion to change security systems and remove furniture and art after having filed for divorce this past summer, she filed for a court order to restrain his access.

In Wednesday's filing, Griffin asserts that the 8,000 square-foot apartment on the 66th floor of the building, which he says he purchased late in 2012, "after he and Anne separated [emphasis in the filing]," is his residence alone. (He adds that in fact, Dias Griffin only owns the upper floors, a penthouse space that amounts to a total of 9,400 square feet and was a shared marital residence for seven years, until February 2015.)

He also defends his right to have taken some of the disputed actions, including removing property and terminating certain household staff. "Most importantly," the filing states, "Anne cannot support her claim that she has a clearly ascertainable right to have Ken fund purchases of couture clothing, helicopter rides, private air travel, and whatever lifestyle she chooses based on Ken's 'total financial resources.'" He adds: "Anne also suggests that she is entitled to use of Ken's two private aircraft," but that private air travel "certainly is not a 'right,' and its deprivation does not constitute irreparable injury."

Dias Griffin has asserted in documents previously that there is no question her estranged husband, whose net worth Forbes estimates to be $5.5 billion, can afford to fund her expenses and those of their children.