Divorce Advice for billionaires and other high net-worth individuals: Part One
Get a prenup!
It used to be that billionaires and other high net-worth men remained married to the same woman till death did them part. That is still true for the most part, but these are unprecedented and interesting times we are living in. Across the globe we are seeing an increase in things like terrorism, poverty, violent storms, and billionaires who not only are increasingly female, but who are tumbling out of the billionaires club as if it’s the latest hip hop dance move. Billionaires are also, uncharacteristically, having more trouble than ever before, with hanging on to their marriages. Some are even becoming serial divorcés.
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Recently, Bruce Upbin at Forbes Magazine devised a “divorce chart” that depicted five billionaires who had had four wives (most billionaires have had no more than two). The charts showed the marital histories of Ted Turner, Ronald Perelman, Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr., T. Boone Pickens and Larry Ellison. According to Upbin, these high net-worth billionaires are in an exclusive club since they are five of only six billionaires who have had up to four marriages/divorces in their lifetime.
But times are changing. And more and more billionaires have had and will have at least two spouses in their lifetime. That means there is an increasing need for good counsel before and during divorce proceedings for billionaires and other high net-worth individuals. Financial institutions recognize this and this is why banks like Citigroup have already commenced “wealth camps” where high net-worth individuals (it is necessary to possess at least $10 million in assets to get invited, according to the WSJ) and their heirs, attend these events to receive counsel from high powered divorce lawyers about the importance of such things as prenuptial agreements prior to entering the marital contract.
Copyright 2010 Divorce Saloon. www.divorcesaloon.com
Is it a fair statement to say that most billionaires (or for that matter, “high net-worth people) have a prenup? One would think so, wouldn’t one, given how much they have to lose? Consider the typical acoutrements of the typical billionaire and high net-worth individuals like Roman Abramovich, Donald Trump, Peter Brant and Andrey Melnichenko. The latter recently unveiled his “$300 million, 394 foot, Baccarat, bomb-proof glass, Philippe Starck designed” yacht, A, in Barbados. By all accounts, it’s a very nice vessel. Does Melnichenko have a prenup with his fashion model wife Aleksandra? One can only hope.
We know Donald Trump doesn’t play. No prenup, no wedding. Peter Brant (Mr. Brant is reportedly only a multi-millionaire and not a billionaire) seems to have married without a prenup to fashion model Stephanie Seymour. The Brants have been fighting for months over Warhol paintings and urine tests. Father of six billionaire Roman Abramovich, a Russian, got totally cremed when he divorced his second wife, Irina, in 2007, she reportedly received nearly half a billion dollars in settlement; in addition, she receives child support to provide for the five children they had together before the 43 year old mogul hooked up with lover Daria Zhukova (daughter of a rich Russian oligarch) and had a sixth baby with her in 2009.
Copyright 2010 Divorce Saloon. www.divorcesaloon.com
For billionaire Roy Disney (Mr. Disney, deceased, was married for over 50 years to the same woman when their marriage disintegrated and he later remarried), a prenup, not surprisingly, was not executed. As a consequence of his divorce, Mr. Disney lost so much of his net-worth, that according to Forbes he actually tumbled off the List of Billionaires (billionaires who fall off the list are called Humpty Dumpty billionaires in Divorce Saloon parlance).
Roy Disney and the others were not the only billionaires who, ostensibly, did not have a prenup at the time they divorced. UK-based billionaire Bernie Ecclestone (Owner of Formula One) apparently did not have a prenup with his statuesque Croatian wife Slavica who was over two decades his junior. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mr. Ecclestone proceeded, allegedly, to put his entire fortune (or a lion share of it) in offshore accounts in New Jersey (or wherever it was) in Slavica’s name to avoid excessive taxes in the UK. Granted they were married nearly 30 years in the aggregate at the time, and he was obviously betting that their marriage would have lasted forever. But to have put his entire fortune in Slavica’s name, knowing he did not have a prenup? That was crazy in more ways than one.
It worked out for Ecclestone, but it could have been ugly. The morale of the story is that it is almost inexcusable for billionaires and other high net-worth individuals to get married without a prenup. Older billionaires who have been married to the same woman for multiple decades can be forgiven. But younger billionaires or those getting married these days would be foolish to marry without a prenup. If you are in this exclusive league and you don’t have a prenup, contact a “high net-worth attorney” right away to fix this. Or you may live to regret this lapse in judgment.
Coming up next, get a post-nup!
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