Primed for separation: Things we learned from the Bezoses’ finalized divorce

Primed for separation: Things we learned from the Bezoses’ finalized divorce

After finalizing their divorce, Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos are still two of the most insanely rich individuals in the world. That’s unsurprising, considering Jeff held 16.3% of Amazon shares — which, trust us, is a humongous amount of money — at the time of their separation. That’s what he gets for co-founding the world’s most innovative online retailing/technology company.

When the Bezoses filed for divorce in January, we speculated whether Jeff will halve his Amazon shares and whether their lack of prenup will be a boon to Mackenzie but a bane to Amazon shareholders. Now that the divorce has been finalized, here are some facts we've learned.

Mackenzie Bezos is still NOT the richest woman in the world

Nonetheless, she will continue to live a life of comfort.

This list of female billionaires doesn’t include Mackenzie Bezos because according to them, she became wealthy after the 2019 rankings were published, hence her non-inclusion. That is a mere technicality — Mrs. Bezos is now worth a staggering $35 billion. She can create her own list of billionaires if she wants to.

Mackenzie Bezos is, in fact, richer than the Queen of England. Actually, she was richer than Queen Elizabeth II even before the divorce. She’s just now way richer, in case you didn’t think that was possible. As part of the settlement, Mackenzie will receive 25% of Jeff's Amazon shares (a non-controlling stake) but will hand over all of her interests in The Washington Post and spacecraft company Blue Origin, earning her some serious cash.

You may be wondering, “Why would she do that?” We surmise that, like any divorcing billionaire, she — and perhaps with some nudging from her lawyers — chose to relinquish all the assets to get it all over with (as opposed to hatching a hostile takeover of Jeff’s Amazon shares). Little wonder their divorce was finalized fast. The two obviously chose the path of least resistance and settled amicably, which is what smart billionaires do, to make the separation as quick and painless as possible.

Did not getting a prenup affect the billion-dollar split?

Not getting a prenup usually spells disaster for the spouse with the higher net worth. That is apparently not the case with Jeff Bezos whose net worth remains much higher than Mackenzie’s.

However, Jeff’s net worth took a slight dip from $138 billion (at the time of the divorce announcement) to $110 billion after reaching a settlement with his ex-wife, who could have taken a higher settlement. A little perspective: he’s still several billions richer than the guy who invented the world’s most popular business software, so things aren’t too bad for Mr. Bezos.

And even without a prenup, Mr. Bezos still managed to keep a fair amount of his riches, which may have something to do with them being billionaires who chose to settle amicably instead of dragging it out. After all, they have kids to raise, charitable foundations to manage, and shares of stock in a billion-dollar technology and a rocket company to grow. They’re busy.

Also, they divorced in Washington state, a community property state. If they hadn’t negotiated an agreement, that would have meant equally splitting the marital assets and debts they’d acquired throughout their 25-year union. It could mean a longer dissolution of marriage process.

It's worth noting that Mackenzie had a significant role in helping Jeff establish what is now the world’s largest online retailer. In other words, she gave more than moral support to Jeff back when Amazon’s headquarters was a garage in Seattle. If this doesn’t warm your heart, check your pulse.

Theirs is the most expensive divorce in legal history

In terms of the size of the settlement, the Bezos ex-partners dethroned art dealer Alec Wildenstein and his ex-wife Jocelyn on the “most expensive divorces in history” list. Just because a couple negotiated an agreement doesn’t mean it’s going to be inexpensive — especially if the ex-partners are billionaires. That said, being super rich certainly can help move things along.

Not all spousal splits are swift and pain-free, nor do many ex-spouses remain remarkably amicable. A dissolution of marriage, whether or not one or both spouses are worth billions, requires the expertise of family law attorneys. Get in touch with Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams’ office in Seattle, Washington if you want to discuss how a divorce can be Bezosian in swiftness and efficiency.