Friday, January 1, 2010

High-Profile Divorces

HOUSTON—We’ve all heard the sobering statistics about divorce rates in the United States, where the cost of dissolving a marriage is relatively low and the process simple. But for high-profile couples with piles of cash and material assets, parting ways can be a costly and complicated affair.

Anyone with cable or Internet access knows the sordid details of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren’s split, which is rumored will soon be settled for a staggering $100 million. Amazingly, theirs will not be the most expensive A-list divorce to date. Here is a look some of the costliest celebrity divorces:

1. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.Estimated settlement: $15 to 25 million.

The Rolling Stones’ front man and sexy supermodel met in 1977 and had two children together before tying the knot in a traditional Hindi wedding ceremony in Bali, Indonesia in 1990. Hall filed for divorce in 1999 after learning that Jagger had fathered a child with another woman. Jagger, worth an estimated $325 million at the time, successfully challenged the legality of the Balinese wedding and was granted an annulment. Hall walked away with only a fraction of his estate.

2. Michael and Diandra Douglas.Estimated settlement: $45 million.

The couple met in 1977 at a Jimmy Carter inauguration party and wed six weeks later. During the course of their marriage, Michael became one of Hollywood’s top earning actors, starring in box office hits like Fatal Attraction, Wall Street and Basic Instinct. Amid rumors of the actor’s infidelities and alcohol abuse, the couple separated in 1998. Diandra was awarded an estimated $45 million in 2000, plus homes in Beverly Hills and Majorca.

In June 2010, the couple returned to court to dispute Diandra’s claim to a portion of the proceeds from Michael’s upcoming Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. If the film is ruled to be a spin-off of the original Wall Street, which Michael filmed while they were together, Diandra will be entitled to a share of his earnings per their divorce settlement.

3. James Cameron and Linda Hamilton.Estimated settlement: $50 million.

The famed director wed the star of his first two Terminator movies in July 1997. Though their marriage lasted a mere 18 months, they conceived a daughter together during that time. Their divorce settled shortly after Titanic was released, and Cameron was forced to give Hamilton more than half of the film’s revenues.

4. Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.Estimated settlement: $50 million.

The Beatles rocker married the former model and charity campaigner in 2002, with McCartney reportedly shunning Mills’ offer of a prenuptial agreement. In 2006, the pair began bitter divorce proceedings, which garnered a great deal of press and were not resolved until March of 2008. They have a daughter together who, in addition to Mills’ nearly $50 million settlement, will receive over $44,000 per year until her 18th birthday.

5. Madonna and Guy Ritchie.Estimated settlement: $76 million.

The Material Girl wed the British film director in 2000, two years after they met at a dinner party hosted by Sting and his wife Trudie Styler. The pair have two children together, Rocco, 8, and David, 3, who was adopted from Malawi. They share custody of the kids, and Madonna shared a large chunk of her estimated $450 million net worth with Ritchie when they settled their divorce for $76 million in 2008.

6. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving.Estimated settlement: $100 million.

Famed director Spielberg and up-and-coming actress Irving met in 1979, had a son, and later married in 1985. But by 1989 the passion between them had fizzled and the amicably parted ways, with Spielberg giving Irving a $100 million settlement to show there were no hard feelings.

7. Neil Diamond and Marcia Murphey.Estimated settlement: $150 million.

Neil Diamond has known international signing success since the ‘60s, and during his career has sold more than one million records worldwide. When he met the woman who would share his life for 25 years, he was already married to his first wife.

Apparently Diamond went out for cigarettes in November 1969 and never returned. Three weeks later he had divorced and married TV producer Marcia Murphey. In 1994, following rumors of extramarital affairs on Diamond’s part, Murphey filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”. Their settlement was for $150 million, half his fortune, which the singer claims he gave her cheerfully. “She’s worth every penny,” he said.

8. Rupert and Anna Murdoch.Estimated settlement: $1.7 billion.

One of the richest men in the world, Rupert Murdoch developed his worldwide media empire when he inherited his father’s Australian newspaper in 1952. He married Anna in the early ‘60s and they remained together for 32 years and had three children.

The pair split on good terms in 1998 but when Rupert forced Anna off the board of News Corporation, things turned ugly. Rupert finally agreed to give his wife $1.7 billion worth of his assets, $110 million of it in cash. 17 days later, Rupert married Wendi Dang, one of his employees.

As you can see, the higher the net-worth of the individuals involved, the messier the divorce proceedings may be.

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Author: Andrew Sullo
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Andrew Sullo

Andrew SulloAndrew Sullo

Andrew Sullo is a National Trial Lawyer's Top 100 Selection for 2013-2020. He is a member of the American Association of Justice (2013-2020), and a recipient of the 2019 AVVO Client's Choice Award.

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