Breaking up is hard to do. For celebrities who bypass the prenup, it can involve jaw-dropping sums of money. Though still ridiculously well off, having to fork over that kind of cash pours salt in the wound.
With a morbid curiosity akin to watching a train wreck (and then re-watching it on YouTube), we little people tune in to enjoy the drama unfold. Let’s check into five of the most expensive divorces of all time.
1. Mel and Robyn Gibson
After 31 years of marriage, Mel and his wife Robyn called it quits in 2009. Thanks to the absence of a prenup, the former dental nurse was entitled to a $425 million divorce settlement.
Granted, after giving birth to and raising seven kids with Mel (and putting up with his well-publicized shenanigans later in the marriage), she may very well have earned every penny. Unfortunately for Mel, his future royalty checks from work done during their marriage will be split with Robyn as well.
2. Rupert and Anna Murdoch
Despite his brilliance in business, this is a man whose drive for success and money has not brought happiness. Instead, it has cost him three wives and billions of dollars.
The mother of three of his six children and wife of 32 years, Anna Murdoch walked away with a staggering $1.7 billion. Since that split, Rupert has met, married, sired two more children by, and divorced his third wife. For all his shark-like business savvy, Rupert seems to muddle matters of money and the heart time and again.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
Neither the world’s biggest action star-turned-politician nor the TV news anchor and Kennedy princess were strangers to money or the limelight. So when news of Arnold’s infidelity and Maria’s departure broke, it was big … as was the divorce settlement.
Since Ah-nuld fathered a child with a longtime staff member in their home, the drama has snowballed. He wrote a book, Brigitte Nielson dropped details of their, uh, working relationship while he was engaged to Maria, and the whole mess just kept getting messier. The cost to tie up this divorce and end 25 years of marriage? An estimated $250-$375 million.
4. Michael and Juanita Jordan
The basketball legend learned from his mistake with ex-wife Juanita. When their 17-year marriage ended, she walked away with half of his considerable fortune. Even with a prenup in place, she was entitled to a big chunk of change: $168 million.
Once Michael was ready to wade into the waters of matrimony again with Yvette Prieto, a prenup went on the table and she signed it. Rumor has it that in the event of a divorce, the model will receive one million dollars per year married to Jordan (with an increase to $5 million a year after a decade of marriage).
5. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving
Want to know how to get a prenup tossed out in court? Write it on a napkin and do it without legal representation. The 1989 divorce settlement of Steven and Amy made headlines for the amount of $100 million. Following the commercial success of films like E.T. and Jaws, courts agreed to throw out the original napkin prenup. For the sake of harmony with his first-born’s mother, Spielberg didn’t put up much of a fight.
The sordid, fascinating, and cringe-worthy divorces of celebrities are magnified versions of how life often plays out in the real world. Love can make fools rush in. But if viewing these public displays of divorce instills a degree of caution, then perhaps there is a little justification in delighting in their cautionary tales.