What is the most expensive divorce in history? Well, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has been ordered to pay his ex-wife $4.5 billion in what is being called the most expensive divorce in history. Rybolovlev, 47, and his wife Elena Rybolovleva have been entangled in divorce proceedings since 2008, when they chose to end their 23-year marriage. However, it was only last week that Geneva, Switzerland’s Court of First Instance ordered that the Russian billionaire pay his wife four billion Swiss francs.
Most Expensive in History?
Last May, the couple had reached an agreement for a paltry $1 billion divorce settlement, but it fell through when Rybolovlev’s financiers couldn’t come up with the cash.
The recent judgment also granted Rybolovleva property worth $146 million in Gstaad, Switzerland. However, she reported to be going after three US properties she believes are Rybolovlev’s hidden assets — including an apartment at 15 Central Park West worth $88 million.
Worth an estimated $8.8 billion, Rybolovlev is ranked 148th in Forbes’ list of billionaires: a ranking that will likely drop dramatically with the settlement of his divorce. Known for owning the French soccer team AS Monaco and for his massive real estate purchases, Rybolovlev originally amassed his fortune through a fertilizer business he founded and operated with his father in 1990.
Two years after starting the family-run business, Rybolovlev began investing in shares of industrial enterprises. Then, in 1995, Rybolovlev became chairman of the board of Uralkali, the top producer of potassium fertilizer in Russia. In 2010, Rybolovlev sold his shares in Uralkali for a hefty $6.5 billion. The next year, he used the money to purchase a controlling stake the AS Monaco soccer team.
The massive divorce settlement will not only cut Rybolovlev’s fortune in half, but will also earn him a place in the exclusive club of divorced men who have been ordered to pay more than $1 billion in divorce settlements. Prior to Rybolovlev, only two men are known to have belonged to this “club”: French art dealer and business mogul Alec Wildenstein, and the British C.E.O. of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone. Wildenstein is rumored to have shelled out $2.5 billion, while Ecclestone paid out around $1.5 billion.
Notably expensive divorce settlements in the United States include Craig McCaw’s divorce from Wendy McCraw, which involved a $460 million settlement; Mel Gibson’s divorce from Robyn Moore Gibson with a settlement of $425 million; and Michael Jordan’s divorce from Juanita Jordan, which cost the former basketball idol $168 million. Billionaire Harold Hamm, founder of Continental Resources and the world’s 44th richest person, will likely be joining this “club” later this year. His divorce trial is scheduled to begin on July 14, and sources speculate that wife Sue Ann Hamms’s settlement could be close to $3 billion. See Divorce Jeopardizes Continental Resources Founder’s Controlling Stake for more about the Hamm case.