When Jeff Bezos and his now ex-wife, MacKenzie Tuttle, announced their divorce in early 2019, they made an enormous effort to ensure the public that it was an amicable, mutual decision.
Despite tabloid reports of infidelity, Bezos and Tuttle maintained the public portrayal of harmony and goodwill. The two described the dissolution of their 25-year marriage as an “exploration” and an opportunity to remain friends and co-parents to their four children and business partners while growing as individuals.
The higher the stakes, the greater the pressure
Amazon is the world’s largest online marketplace, and Bezos’ fortune includes ownership of the Washington Post, among other large stakes. Tuttle herself is a 25% stakeholder in Amazon. It’s quite likely that an intentionally peaceful, low-drama divorce—at least in public view—is as much a business strategy as anything.
Drama-free celebrity divorces have taken off in recent times. Years earlier, when actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow ended her marriage with musician Chris Martin, the two boasted publicly about what they called “conscious uncoupling.”
The term implies a mindful, friendly, thoughtful decision to end a marriage. Negative press over a messy divorce could impact a high-profile business, such as Bezos’ Amazon empire or Paltrow’s brand, Goop. When large sums of money are involved—the Bezos divorce included $140 billion stakes—the impetus to be friendly may be a smart protective move.
A divorce approach that pays
Considering the inherent difficulties of splitting a large fortune in a contentious divorce, working to preserve a public image of amicability can be as much a conscious effort to smooth over potential branding or financial backlash as it is a genuine desire to remain good friends.
For any couple with a high net worth and significant business interests at stake, this approach might be one to consider working toward, even if it doesn’t make the tabloids.