Inside Wealth

The world's most expensive divorce settlements

The Most Costly Breakups

Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch
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Reports on Monday confirmed that Chris Rock and his wife, Malaak Compton-Rock, have filed for divorce after nearly 20 years of marriage. The couple joins the ranks of Coldplay's front man, Chris Martin, who "consciously uncoupled" from Gwyneth Paltrow earlier in the year, and actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton who announced their separation in December.

When a marriage goes sour and the couple's net worth is in the stratosphere, divorce becomes increasingly more complicated. The absence of an official prenuptial agreement, differences in international law and circumstances surrounding of the breakup can result in large sums being paid out in the divorce settlement.

Without a prenuptial agreement, some high net worth individuals have found divorce to be a costly endeavor. Some of the world's wealthiest people have seen their net worth cut in half by a divorce settlement.

Although most settlements don't get finalized until well after the divorce takes place, there is always speculation when a high net worth divorce is on the horizon, as was the case when Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren went through their highly public split. For Woods, there originally was speculation that the settlement could reach $750 million, although in the end, the actual figure was considerably less, ranking 16th all time.

So, what are the biggest divorce settlements and who has paid the most? There have been several recently that have cracked the top 18. Click ahead for the full list.

By Paul Toscano and Sarah Whitten, CNBC.com.
Updated 29 December 2014

18. Frank and Jamie McCourt

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The former owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank McCourt, made most of his money in the real estate development business, but was set to lose a healthy portion of it when it was announced that the couple was splitting after 30 years of marriage in 2009. In a messy divorce, McCourt fired Jamie as CEO of the Dodgers and as part of the divorce settlement, Jamie The settlement was reached in October 2011, several months after the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, whi
Photo: Kirby Lee | WireImage | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $131 Million

The former owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Frank McCourt, made most of his money in the real estate development business, but was set to lose a healthy portion of it when it was announced that the couple was splitting after 30 years of marriage in 2009. In a messy divorce, McCourt fired wife Jamie as CEO of the Dodgers and as part of the divorce settlement, she relinquished her ownership stake in the team after receiving a $131 million settlement.

The settlement was reached in October 2011, several months after the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which eventually required the team to be put up for sale. In March 2012, the Dodgers and the land surrounding the stadium sold to a group of investors for a record price of $2.15 billion. It was a surprise to most everyone in sports that the team would have such a high valuation, but since Jamie McCourt had relinquished her ownership stake, she was not eligible to benefit from the proceeds, leading The Wall Street Journal to pose the question: Jamie McCourt’s Share: Baseball’s Worst Deal?

17. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphey

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.
Source: IAISND.com | Photo: Getty Images

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 prompted her to file for divorce. Although the official numbers were never made public, Diamond has been quoted as saying that his ex-wife received $150 million in the divorce.

16. Samathur Li Kin-kan and Florence Tsang Chiu-wing

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Although this divorce may have happened under the radar for most of the Western world, the split of Samanthur Li Kin-kan, an heir to a Hong Kong real estate fortune, and his wife, Florence Tsang Chiu-wing (pictured), is thought to be the largest ever in Asia. The settlement ($157 million), which included properties around the world, cash payments and the distribution of other assets. It was reported that the marriage began going down hill after Florence denied her husband’s requests that she hav
Photo: China.org.cn

Settlement Amount: $154 Million

Although this divorce may have happened under the radar for most of the Western world, the split of Samanthur Li Kin-kan, an heir to a Hong Kong real estate fortune, and his wife, Florence Tsang Chiu-wing (pictured), is thought to be the largest ever in Asia. The settlement topped out at HK$1.2 billion($154 million), which included properties around the world, cash payments and the distribution of other assets.

It was reported that the marriage began going downhill after Florence denied her husband’s requests that she have an abortion. Later, questions about Samanthur's potential infidelity arose. The large settlement highlighted Hong Kong’s reputation as the “divorce capital of Asia.”

15. Boris Berezovsky and Galina Besharova

Boris Berezovsky
Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $163 Million

In the UK's largest divorce settlement, Russian millionaire and industrial tycoon separated with his second wife, Galina, and the absence of a prenuptial agreement caused a major hit to his net worth. Although the couple reportedly spent only two years of their 18-year-long marriage together.

According to The Guardian, the settlement was £100 million, which was approximately one-fifth of his net worth at the time. Berezovsky had been living in exile in the UK since falling out of favor with Vladimir Putin following the president's crack-down on the country's oligarchy.

In March 2013, Berezovsky was found dead in his London apartment, after an apparent suicide. His death was initially met with skepticism from the British media, who speculated that Moscow had a hand in his death, but toxicology reports found that his death was "consistent with hanging."

It was also reported that Berezovsky was heavily in debt at the time of his death, selling his possessions in order to continue a court battle with fellow Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.


14. Michael and Juanita Jordan

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 expedite the breakup proceedings.
Source: AP | Photo: Getty Images

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. The final divorce settlement included not only the cash payout, but the couple's 7-acre estate in Chicago and custody of their three children.

13. Michael and Maya Polsky

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 in starting various energy companies, including SkyGen Energy (which he sold in 2000 for $45
Source: AP | Photo: Stefanie Keenan | Getty Images

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.

The couple, who married in 1975 in Ukraine, moved to the U.S. 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.

12. Roman and Irina Abramovich

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
Source: Reuters UK | Photo: Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $300 Million

In what had the potential to be the most expensive divorce settlement of all-time, Roman Abramovich's split with wife Irina only ended up costing the Russian billionaire $300 million. At the time (2007) Abramovich was listed by Forbes as the 16th richest man in the world, and it was speculated that his wife could be awarded up to half of her former husband's $18.7 billion net worth. 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 acquired 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.

11. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver

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In another highly publicized divorce, movie star and former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver split after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with a member of the couple’s domestic staff. Since the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, Schwarzenegger was required under California law to hand over half of his wealth to Shriver, that that he was willing to give an even more generous sum in order to demonstrate that he was
Photo: Chelsea Lauren | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $250 Million - $375 Million

In another highly publicized divorce, movie star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, split after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with a member of the couple’s domestic staff.

Since the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, Schwarzenegger was required under California law to hand over half of his wealth to Shriver, reports indicated that that he was willing to give an even more generous sum in order to demonstrate that he was taking responsibility for his actions. Although the final figure was never made public after the 2011 announcement, it was estimated that Schwarzenegger’s wealth was between $500 million and $750 million, placing the settlement between $250 million and $375 million.

10. Robert and Sheila Johnson

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 and Shelia 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, Shelia married William T. Newman Jr., the judge who presided over her divorce case.
Source: USA Today, Washington Post | Photo: Getty Images

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, he and wife Sheila split up in 2000, and she 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, she married William T. Newman Jr., the judge who presided over her original divorce case.

9. Mel and Robyn Gibson

In what is the biggest celebrity divorce of all-time, Mel Gibson reportedly handed over half of his $850 million fortune when he split with his wife of 31 years, Robyn. The divorce was finalized in December 2011 after being filed more than two years earlier, following the release of photos showing the actor in an embrace with Russian singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva. it was reported that Robyn was entitled to not only half of Gibson’s wealth, but also any future residuals from Gibson’s films
Photo: Ron Galella | Wire Image | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $425 million

In what is the biggest celebrity divorce of all-time, Mel Gibson reportedly handed over half of his $850 million fortune when he split with his wife of 31 years, Robyn. The divorce was finalized in December 2011 after being filed more than two years earlier, following the release of photos showing the actor in an embrace with Russian singer-songwriter Oksana Grigorieva.

As a result of the divorce, it was reported that Robyn was entitled to not only half of Mel’s wealth, but also any future residuals from his films. Not only did Gibson lose half his fortune (he, too, did not have a prenuptial agreement), but his relationship with Grigorieva soon hit the brakes. In a highly publicized breakup that included recorded phone conversations and restraining orders, Gibson was also ordered to pay child support to the tune of $750,000, plus a multimillion dollar settlement.

8. Craig and Wendy McCaw

The Seattle-area businessman and founder of McCaw Cellular, Craig McCaw and his wife Wendy split up shortly 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.
Source: Reuters, Wendy-Mccaw.com | Photo: Warren Mell

Settlement Amount: $460 Million

The Seattle-area businessman and founder of McCaw Cellular, Craig McCaw and wife Wendy split up, in 1998, just a few years after selling the company to AT&T for between $11 billion-$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.

7. Steve and Elaine Wynn

Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn and his former wife Elaine Wynn in 2005.
Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $741 Million

In March 2010, casino mogul Steve Wynn filed for divorced with wife Elaine and had to pay an estimated $741 million in Wynn Resorts stock. Elaine, a long-time member of Wynn's board, became one of the company's largest shareholders and remains one today, with approximately 9.7 million shares as of the most recent filing.

The stock, which was in the mid-$60 range when the divorce case was closed, have risen to about $135 at the time of this writing. Her holdings in the company are currently valued at $1.2 billion, so her strategy of holding the stock after the divorce has certainly paid off.

This was actually the second time that the couple divorced, the first being a five-year period starting in 1986, according to The New York Times.

6. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi

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,
Source: ABC News | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $874 Million

For almost two decades, Saudi billionaire entrepreneur and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi held the record for the most expensive divorce settlement in history. Although they filed for divorce in 1974, it took Soraya Khashoggi 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 distinction in 2007.

5. Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Hamm

Harold Hamm and his wife Sue Ann Hamm, in April, 2012
Kevin Mazur | WireImage | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $1 Billion

In 2012, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and wife Sue Ann Hamm filed for divorce after 24 years of marriage. The oilman had an estimated $11 billion net worth prior to the filing. There was speculation that he had not signed a prenuptial agreement and his wife would be entitled to half of his wealth.

In November, Hamm, 68, was ordered to pay Mrs. Hamm a total of $995.5 million with $322.7 million expected to be paid before the end of 2014. The ruling is subject to appeal and came after a 10-week trail.

The remaining $650 million will be paid in installments of $7 million each month.

4. Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone

The 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
Source: Times of London, Reports | Photo: Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $1 Billion-$1.2 Billion

The 2009 divorce between billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and wife Slavica was at the time thought to be the most expensive in history—in the range of $4 billion. However, the final settlement is estimated by various reports to be in the range of $1 billion to $1.2 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 £743 million ($1.16 billion) by The Times of London. Part of her recent shopping spree is a new $60 million private plane.

3. Rupert and Anna Murdoch

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 la
Source: Reuters UK | Photo: Ron Galella | WireImage | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $1.7 Billion

In 2013, media mogul Murdoch and his former wife, Anna (now Anna Murdoch Mann) divorced. 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. Unfortunately for the new couple, this marriage also went into splitsville, a turn of events made public in June 2013. However, sources close to the situation say the couple had a prenup, so the most recent break-up may not be breaking any records.

2. Alec and Jocelyn Wildenstein

Alec Wildenstein attends the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Lonchamp in Paris, Oct. 4, 2004, and Jocelyne Wildenstein arrives at the 2005 LA Fashion Awards in Los Angeles, Oct. 21, 2005.
Eric Ryan | Getty Images/Michael Tran | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $2.5 Billion

Art dealer Alec Wilderstein and New York socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein divorced in 1999, and Ms. Wildenstein was entitled to $2.5 billion and an annual $100 million for 13 years, reported Reuters.

Jocelyn Wildenstein, known for her many cosmetic surgery procedures, was instructed by a judge not to use her alimony payments for cosmetic surgery, according to a Reuters report. Alec Wildenstein died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 67. He was the heir to one of the richest families in the art world.

1. Dmitry Rybolovlev and Elena Rybolovelva

Dmitri Rybolovlev with his now ex-wife Elena attend the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on April 21, 2012 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Federic Nebinger | WireImage | Getty Images

Settlement Amount: $4.8 Billion

To date, the most expensive divorce settlement was between Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and his wife, businesswoman and socialite Elena Rybolovelva, who separated after 26 years of marriage.

The court ordered Rybolovlev to pay his ex-wife $4.5 billion, which is half of his estimated $8.8 billion fortune, as well as $146 million in property in Switzerland and $150 million in alimony payments, according to The Associated Press.

Rybolovelva ultimately received $4.8 billion from the divorce, according to the AP report.