After 25 years of marriage, one of Silicon Valley’s most famous couples are calling it quits.
And the split could shake up both the lists of the world’s wealthiest men and women.
Jeff Bezos - the CEO of the online retail giant Amazon and the world’s wealthiest man - and his longtime wife MacKenzie announced their divorce in a tweet on Wednesday.
The couple, who have been together for 25 years (and married a year before Bezos founded Amazon) said they wanted to "make people aware of a development in our lives" in the announcement.
"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," they wrote.
Along with their married life, the couple are also co-founders of a charitable fund called Day One Fund, which they plan to continue working on together.
"We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead," they wrote, "as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures."
"If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again."
While it can feel cold hearted to speculate about a divorce settlement on the day the pair announced their split, the sheer size of Bezos’ fortune makes the possibilities newsworthy.
Bloomberg estimates that Bezos, who turns 55 this month, is worth more than $137 billion, and because of state laws MacKenzie could argue she’s entitled to a huge chunk of his fortune. The pair also own multiple properties which will likely be split between them.
MacKenzie, 48, is a novelist who famously encouraged her husband to leave his Wall Street job and found Amazon, and became one of the tech giant’s first employees.
The Bezoses reside in Washington, where any wealth made during a couple’s marriage can be split evenly at divorce. That means MacKenzie’s settlement could be as high as $66 billion.
A payout that big would also mean a serious shakeup at Amazon, where Bezos owns 16% of the company, since he would need to sell shares to pay his ex.
That explains why divorce attorneys told CNBC that MacKenzie will probably take a different approach. She may be willing to settle for less if it means that Bezos’ stake in his company is not affected, since it would mean more money for her in the long run.
Even so, it’s likely that Bezos’ breakup could become the costliest U.S. divorce ever, easily eclipsing oil baron Steve Wynn’s 2010 divorce from his wife Elaine, which cost him $974.8 million.
Just for your information, Forbes reports that the current world’s wealthiest woman is France’s Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, who inherited the L’Oréal fortune from her mother Liliane in 2017. Meyers is estimated to be worth $46.5 billion.
Bezos and MacKenzie also share four children, including an adopted daughter from China.