Money Pit: Top Ten Most Expensive Divorces

The rich are different. Their divorces cost more.

What happens when the uber-wealthy can’t make the love work anymore? First, the lawyers make a lot of money. Second, they race to find a spot on this list of the world’s most expensive divorces.

1. Rupert and Anna Murdoch, estimated at $1.7 billion – The media mogul stayed married to Anna for 32 years, so it was a good run. The couple divorced in 1999, with the former Mrs. Murdoch doing quite well. Mr. Murdoch married Wendi Deng 17 days after his divorce was final. Hey, do you think he had that planned?

2. Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone, estimated at $1 billion – The F1 Chief was 28 years older and a foot shorter than his Croatian model wife, but they made it work for 25 years. She made it work by getting about $1 billion from him when she felt their marriage had crossed the finish line.

3. Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi, estimated at $874 million – He was an arms dealer for the Saudi royal family, she was a girl who married an arms dealer for the Saudi royal family. After surviving that life, an $874 million breakup probably seemed pretty easy.

4. Craig and Wendy McCaw, estimated to exceed $460 million – Long before Craig became rich by jumping into the cell phone business early, he and Wendy were a duo at Stanford, where they met as sophomores when she was his tutor. Awww…isn’t that sweet? After 21 years of marriage, not so sweet–they had a bloody, very public divorce where Wendy battled for a settlement that would help her scrape by on $200,000 a month. She walked away with a hefty chunk of change and reportedly the two ended up on good terms.

5. Mel Gibson and Robyn Gibson, estimated at $425 million – The fact that Gibson could write a check of that amount to his wife when they reached a settlement in December 2011 is a testament to how big a star he once was. So congratulations, Mel, for taking the “Most Expensive Celebrity Divorce” spot on our list. You’re number one at something again.

6. Robert and Sheila Johnson, estimated at $400 million – He was one of BET’s co-founders and the Johnsons were the US’s first African-American billionaires. Their marriage lasted thirty years. That’s a good run, and after the split they continued to share some business interests. In a true romance twist, Sheila later married the judge who presided over their divorce!

7. Roman and Irina Abramovich, estimated at $300 million – Considering he’s Russia’s richest man, Roman didn’t really get burned that badly. He and Irina managed to settle quietly out of court in 2007. Can’t we all learn a lesson from these kids?

8. Michael and Maya Polsky, estimated at $184 million – They married in the Ukraine in 1975 and came to the US with $500 and one suitcase. In 2003, after he’d made a fortune as an energy mogul, they divorced and Maya walked away with half his money. Now that’s the American dream.

9. Jack and Jane Welch, estimated at $180 million – Jack Welch argued that they had had a pre-nup that would keep the settlement down but they had been married for thirteen years and Jane proved that the agreement was only good for ten years. He got killed in the press when their divorce papers revealed the lavish lifestyle and perks he got from his job as head of GE, and in the end, they settled quietly. Word has it that she got $180 million, though the actual number hasn’t been revealed.

10. Michael and Juanita Jordan; estimated at $168 million – They married in 1989, when Jordan was at the top of his basketball stardom. By 2007, though, the Jordan Rules had worn out on Juanita and she was done. Retired for years, Jordan is still one of the world’s top earning athletes, so this amount probably didn’t hurt too much. Many NBA fans undoubtedly wish he had given Juanita control of the Charlotte Bobcats in the settlement. She couldn’t do worse than he has running the franchise…into the ground.