The announcement by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man, and his wife that they will divorce has captivated the imagination — how will they split his giant fortune, estimated at $136 billion?
And what will happen to the Internet retail giant - will his soon-to-be ex get a significant stake, and how would that affect his control of the company? The former MacKenzie Tuttle knew the 54-year-old Bezos before fame and wealth came calling.
The couple met in 1992 when he was a hedge fund manager on Wall Street, before he became an entrepreneur who changed the way hundreds of millions of people live. They married less than a year later.
She was by his side for the entire Amazon adventure, from the company’s humble beginnings in his Seattle garage in 1994 to its mammoth success today. They have four children — three sons and an adopted daughter — aged up to their late teens.
As of Wednesday, when the couple formally announced they would divorce after a long separation, the 48-year-old MacKenzie, a novelist, is likely to become the richest woman in the world.
According to celebrity news outlet TMZ, the Bezoses did not have a prenuptial agreement — which could mean an even split of assets.
They were married in Florida in September 1993, according to documents seen by AFP. But their last place of residence would be the deciding factor in any divorce proceedings.
The couple has numerous residences: in Seattle, where Amazon is based, but also in Washington DC, Texas and Beverly Hills, California.
According to Randall Kessler, a founding partner at Atlanta family law firm Kessler and Solomiany, the location will not matter so much.
“Some states have community property, some states have equitable division which means fair division, but even in those states, it usually comes out 50-50. That’s the starting point,” he said.
Bezos, who was once Amazon’s primary stakeholder, now owns about 16 per cent of the company — the bulk of his net worth.