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For richer and poorer: Divorce in the Forbes 400

On Behalf of | May 21, 2021 | Divorce

They say that money can’t buy happiness. While that is probably true, many people daydream about what it would be like to try to purchase bliss.

Media outlets around the world, including here in Bethesda, carried the news that Bill and Melinda Gates had announced their impending divorce. The announcement startled many folks who saw the way the Gateses beamed at each other when they discussed the good their philanthropic foundation was doing.

While the foundation will keep going, Bill and Melinda’s marriage will not – an experience shared by other members of the gilded Forbes 400.

The publication recently looked back at divorces and property settlements involving business owners, a Picasso, dead fish, a rather big check and more.

Possession of an original replica

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Gross and his “nuclear” divorce from Sue Gross, his wife of three decades. Forbes says that after Sue was awarded their Laguna Beach, California, home, Bill “allegedly stuffed dead fish” into the house’s air ducts before transferring ownership of the property.

Forbes said Sue received more than $1 billion in the divorce, as well as two cats and Picasso’s Le Repos, a 1932 painting of his lover.

Bill thought he had possession of the masterpiece, but it turned out that Sue had switched it for a replica she’d painted herself. After their 2017 divorce, she sold Le Repos for $36.9 million.

Coercion alleged

Ken Griffin – also a hedge fund billionaire – divorced Anne Dias after 12 years. The couple had a prenuptial agreement that called for her to get a $25 million payment, with an additional $1 million per year of marriage and joint ownership of a Chicago penthouse.

However, Anne claimed she’d signed the agreement under duress the night before their wedding. She asked the court to award her more, but the couple settled the dispute in a confidential settlement shortly before going to court.

Big check

Oil tycoon Harold Hamm, on the other hand, spent several years in court fighting over the details of his divorce from Sue Ann Arnall. He tried to end the courtroom saga by writing her a check for $974,790,317.77. Forbes reported that she took the check and deposited it, but soon returned to court, requesting more. She lost on appeal when the court ruled that by signing and depositing the check, she’d agreed to the settlement.

The dollar amounts here are a bit higher than what’s typically seen in a Maryland divorce, but disputes over property division can be difficult no matter where the decimal point is located.