On Wednesday morning, Jeff Bezos—founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon, and (therefore unsurprisingly) the wealthiest person in the world—announced to his 700,000-plus Twitter followers that, after 25 years of marriage, he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos (née Tuttle), have decided to get a divorce. "We want to make people aware of a development in our lives. 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," the couple wrote in a paragraph that they signed "Jeff & MacKenzie."
This isn't just any old breakup: It also marks an end to the reign of the world's wealthiest couple. Unsurprisingly, then, it took just over an hour for at least one outlet to publish a story aiming to answer the next logical questions: How much will the divorce cost? And, to quote CNBC's headline, "How much could Mackenzie Bezos get in a divorce?"
The dollar figures are, of course, still very much up in the air, but CNBC notes that because the Bezoses live in the state of Washington, which is a community property state, it's possible any wealth accumulated during their marriage—which began a year after Bezos founded Amazon—could end up being split equally between the pair. And seeing as Jeff's profits from the company reportedly tally up to $137 billion, MacKenzie might soon have $66 billion coming her way—even though they appear to be planning to keep things amicable.
"If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again," the pair continued in their statement. "We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures. Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends."
MacKenzie, a novelist with a degree from Princeton—her former professor Toni Morrison once described her as "really one of the best" students she's ever had in her creative writing classes—first met Jeff when he interviewed her for a job at a hedge fund that she hoped would pay her bills as she pursued her career in writing. She was 23 years old when they got engaged, just three months after they began dating, and her husband was still gushing about her 20 years later: "I think my wife is resourceful, smart, brainy, and hot, but I had the good fortune of having seen her résumé before I met her, so I knew exactly what her SATs were," he told Vogue in 2013.
That $137 billion figure, however, is pre-divorce fees that may soon be incurred—and it's hard to imagine that the world's wealthiest person would get himself a lawyer who was anything less than top-tier. Plus, to fork over $66 billion, he'd likely have to sell or pledge some of his 80 million shares in the company, therefore putting his ownership and control of Amazon into jeopardy—something that might not be in MacKenzie's best interest, seeing as she has four children with Jeff, whom she described just this morning as her "cherished friend."
In any case, they're eligible to make history with one of the expensive divorces of all time. If so, they'd be in the company of Rupert Murdoch, whose split from Anna Maria Mann in 1999 led to a $1.7 billion settlement (or $2.6 billion with inflation); and Mel Gibson, whose split from Robyn Moore Gibson cost an estimated $425 million. (Though even they can't measure up to Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone, a 5-foot-4 Formula One businessman and 6-foot-2 former model, whose split cost $1.2 billion, nor the art dealer Alec Wildenstein's $2.5 billion split from the socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein, who's since become known for spending millions on plastic surgery.)
Still, the news is one of the few hints of a potential decline since Amazon's (in some ways quite literal) takeover of the world. In September, for example, reports of Amazon's at times inhumane working conditions sparked outrage. And the following month, news broke that Amazon had met with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pitch them their new real-time facial recognition technology, which would, of course, pose further threats to undocumented immigrants and allow ICE to further its highly controversial policies.
On the other hand, though Jeff may be no art bro, the 54-year-old will now be among the highly single tech billionaires out there. May he take solace in the fact that—at least in the world of eligible, controversial, male tech billionaire bachelors—Elon Musk has already made sure that he won't be at the bottom of the barrel.