AMAZON chief Jeff Bezos may have to give his wife HALF of his $160billion fortune in what would be the biggest divorce in history.
Bezos, 54 — the world’s richest man — and wife MacKenzie, 48, revealed their 25-year marriage was over in a joint statement.
The couple, wed the year before he founded Amazon, are not thought to have signed a pre-nuptial agreement, according to reports.
Divorce laws in their home state Washington say wealth made during a marriage must be split 50-50.
And their break-up could dwarf the £2.9billion French tycoon Alec Wildenstein paid to ex-wife Jocelyn in 1999.
Bezos and MacKenzie, who have four kids, said they broke up after a “trial separation”.
But their Twitter statement added: “We remain cherished friends.”
They spoke of being “deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married — if we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again”.
The couple met in New York in 1992 when Bezos, then a hedge fund executive, interviewed her for a job.
Instant chemistry – a billion dollar love story
- MacKenzie was first interviewed for her position at hedge fund D.E. Shaw by her husband-to-be and vice president of the company Jeff.
- She got the job and the two became an item shortly after meeting.
- Jeff and MacKenzie’s offices were next door to each other, something that fueled her interest in her future husband.
- She told Vogue: “My office was next door to his, and all day long I listened to that fabulous laugh. How could you not fall in love with that laugh?”
- Jeff described his other half as “resourceful, smart, brainy, and hot”.
- But it was MacKenzie who made the first move and asked Jeff out to lunch. They were engaged within three months and married within six.
- Jeff told his wife about his business idea and the following year, in 1994, they quit their jobs and travelled to Seattle to found Amazon.
They got wed the next year and moved to Seattle, Washington. He set up Amazon as an online bookstore in his garage in 1994 employing his wife as an accountant for the start-up.
His wife is said to have supported him as he turned it into the world’s biggest stock market-listed firm.
Bezos’s 16 per cent stake makes up much of the wealth that earns him £168million a day — £1,951 a second.
The couple are also believed to be among America’s biggest landowners.
They have homes in LA, New York and three other US cities worth a total £93million.
Bezos also owns the Washington Post newspaper.
However, US divorce lawyer Jeffrey Fisher suggested neither he nor his wife may want a large break-up settlement — as it would mean his selling Amazon shares and giving up some of his grip on the family company.
Mr Fisher told NBC: “There would be an argument by the attorneys that the Amazon stake is not worth as much without Bezos in control, so that would affect any settlement.”
The down-to-earth couple and their ‘abnormally normal’ family
- For the first five years after Amazon started, the couple lived in a one-bed apartment in Seattle.
- Despite their vast wealth, friends say they are extremely down to earth and try to live a normal family life.
- A family friend described them as “such a normal, close-knit family, it’s almost abnormal.”
- Until 2013, MacKenzie drove their kids to school in a Honda minivan before dropping Jeff off to work.
- And Jeff said washing the dishes each evening after dinner was “the sexiest thing I do.”
- The Bezos family adhered to a normal routine, with dad Jeff starting the day with a healthy breakfast with his family.
Bezos, the son of a teenage mum, was described last year as the richest person in history after his fortune nearly doubled along with the value of Amazon, the second ever trillion-dollar company after Apple.
Forbes magazine’s “real-time rich list” currently puts his personal fortune at $136.4bn (£107bn), after he became the first man ever to have a wealth of more than $150bn.
Reuters estimates his wealth at more than $160bn thanks to his 16 per cent holding in the online giant.
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Bezos posted a joint statement on his Twitter account “to make people aware of a development in our lives”.
It said: “As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other.”
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