Saturday 7 December 2019

Celebrity Divorce: Mark Zuckerberg take note

Supermodel Heidi Klum and British singer Seal. Photo: AP
Supermodel Heidi Klum and British singer Seal. Photo: AP
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are seen in this photograph taken on their wedding day. Photo: Reuters
Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva have one daughter, Lucia (6)

Declan Cashin

Did Mark Zuckerberg note the post-split money rows of other celebrities when he got married last week, asks Declan Cashin.

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg surprised everyone by marrying his long-time girlfriend Priscilla Chan last weekend, it didn't take long for the press, and Donald Trump, to start asking: did they sign a pre-nuptial agreement?

After all, their wedding came just days after Zuckerberg's personal wealth was set at $20bn (€16bn) following his company's flotation on the US stock exchange.

So far, Zuck's people have refused to comment on a pre-nup, though it's hard to see how some discussion of potential legal protections could have been avoided.

It's something that another billionaire, Francois-Henri Pinault, should have kept in mind. The French luxury goods magnate probably felt hard done by when his ex, supermodel Linda Evangelista, brought him to court last month, reportedly seeking upwards of $46,000 a month in child support.

In the end, Pinault and Evangelista, who have a five-year-old son Augie from their brief courtship, worked out a deal, bringing a halt to their case just as the details emerging from the New York court were getting ever juicier.

For instance, Evangelista was peeved that her son's half sister Valentina -- Pinault's daughter with his current wife, actress Salma Hayek (do try to keep up) -- already has a $12m (€9m) LA estate in her name that she will inherit upon coming of age.

Furthermore, the child -- who is now four -- has a permanent bodyguard, protection that Evangelista maintains her son needs too.

Though the undisclosed settlement is believed to be well short of what was first demanded, that original price would still have been a steal for French billionaire Pinault, at least compared to what other showbiz splits have cost.

Crucially, Pinault and Evangelista were never married. If they were, they'd have to fight a much nastier legal battle.

Ivana Trump -- ex-wife of property mogul Donald -- best summed up celebrity divorces in 'The First Wives Club' when she knowingly said: "Remember girls: don't get mad, get everything."

She'd know a thing or two about that herself. When she split from Trump in 1992 after 15 years of marriage, Ivana received $25m (€19.5m), in addition to two properties in Connecticut and Palm Beach (estimated to be worth over $20m altogether) and an annual six-figure alimony stipend.

The Trump divorce was big news at the time, but in the grand scheme of things it barely registers in the star divorce league tables.

Compare that to Maria Shriver, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They split this time last year after 25 years together when it emerged that the 'Governator' had 'insperminated' the household nanny and fathered a child with her. Their divorce proceedings are ongoing, but it's believed she will get some $200m (€158m) of the actor's fortune. At this rate Arnie will still be working when he can ride the bus for free. That's no joke either -- just ask comedian John Cleese.

After the Fawlty Towers star forked out €16m to ex-wife Alyce Eichelberger, the 72-year-old accepted that he'd have to hit the road touring at a time in life when he should be winding down.

Though he still retained some €10m, Cleese embarked on a pricey national tour cheekily entitled 'Alimony' to bulk up his coffers. He has been openly bitter about the experience too. Cleese lamented, "What I find so unfair is that if we both died today, her children would get much more than mine."

Elin Nordegren, another wronged wife, recently secured a massive pay-off from Tiger Woods. After a six-year marriage, Nordegren hired her lawyer sister Josefin and a team of her colleagues to fight her case in court.

In the end, it's estimated that Nordegren got $100m (€79m).

Another man in the middle of a media storm right now, Mel Gibson, no doubt exercised his spectacular talent for profanity when his divorce from wife Robyn was finalised last December.

His partner of 31 years, and the mother of seven of his children, banked $425m (€332m), exactly half of his fortune. Suddenly his recent, erm, troubles, make a little more sense.

Steven Spielberg had one of the most famous divorces in entertainment history. When he split from first wife, actress Amy Irving, in 1989, he was one of the world's wealthiest film directors.

Spielberg believed his pre-nup would protect him, but Irving successfully contested it on the grounds that she didn't have legal representation at the time of signing (the pre-nup was also reportedly done up on the back of a napkin).

Irving walked off with $100m (€78m), half of his then fortune. Today, the bearded director is worth some $3bn (€2.3bn) so you can bet he does whatever it takes to please his second wife, Kate Capshaw.

Lest you think that it's just the ladies claiming huge chunks of change, some fellas have also done very well. Case in point: former Mr Madonna Guy Ritchie is believed to have won $92m (€72m) -- roughly one-sixth of the pop star's wealth -- after their divorce in 2008.

Meanwhile, singer Seal, worth $15m in his own right, is reportedly looking to claim a sizeable portion of wife Heidi Klum's fortune.

The model is said to have $70m (€54m) in the bank from her catwalk and media incarnations -- and Seal is asking for half of it.

He stands a good chance of getting it too, because of a pre-nup agreement the two signed. What's more, as one source told the press last month, "[Seal] could also own a piece of her career for years to come since any contract she signed while they were together would be considered community property."

In a way, we'd be disappointed if celebrity divorces were anything but grubby and ugly.

One need only recall the fascination with Heather Mills and Paul McCartney's ghastly 2008 divorce circus (where she got €38m instead of her requested €195m) to prove that thesis.

In the same vein, the press seems to be gearing up for an almighty battle between Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

She was quoted recently as wanting to "punish" her younger husband for his cheating ways by claiming a hefty share of his €112m fortune. This is despite a pre-nup, something that she insisted upon in order to protect the $90m (€70m) she secured from her first divorce to actor Bruce Willis.

Recall also singer Lionel Richie's divorce from his second wife Diane in the early Noughties. Though the overall settlement figure was small in comparison to others -- "only" $20m -- the Richie case provided a rare glimpse into the grotesquely petty and often times ludicrous fine print of divorce petitions.

For example, Diane claimed to require $300,000 per month. This figure covers a $50,000 shopping allowance, $15,000 on accessories, and, perhaps revealingly, just $600 on therapy.

That being said, it seems that it is possible for celeb separations to pass with some grace and class.

Comic Russell Brand could have taken ex-wife Katy Perry to the cleaners during their legal split earlier this year; she's worth some $44m (€37m) to his $4m (€3m).

What's more, they didn't sign a pre-nup. However, Brand chose to waive any right to the singer's money, opting instead to take a share of her assets, such as her part of their home in Hollywood Hills.

And what about singer Neil Diamond, who had one of the costliest divorces in showbiz history in the early 1990s when he split from his wife of 25 years, Marcia?

After gifting her $150m (€117m) -- half of his earnings to date -- Diamond's only comment was: "She's worth every penny."

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