The Most Expensive (and Explosive) Celebrity Divorces of All Time
From eye-popping settlement amounts to headline-making adultery allegations, here are the celebrity divorces people couldn't stop talking about
Bill & Melinda Gates
The charitable pair announced their surprising divorce news on May 3, 2021, after 27 years of marriage. Court documents show the two had a private separation agreement in place, but not a prenuptial agreement — and since they shared so much of their professional life together, untangling their assets could be complicated.
They have several properties, including a 66,000-square foot waterfront mansion in Medina, Washington, worth $130.88 million and a new $43 million home in Del Mar, California.
Individually, Forbes estimated that Bill is worth $130.5 billion. Though he stepped down as Microsoft chairman in 2014, he still owns 1.34 percent of the company and stakes in several other organizations, in addition to a handful of luxury planes and cars.
Together, the former couple runs their namesake foundation, worth more than $40 billion. In a statement, the parents to three grown children said they "will continue our work together at the foundation" as they continue its mission of helping people around the world "lead healthy, productive lives."
Phil Collins & Orianne Bates
When Collins and Bates (then Cevey) split in 2006 after seven years of marriage, their $46.68 million settlement was the biggest in British legal history at the time. The couple, who share two teenage sons, found their way back to each other in 2016 — only to split again acrimoniously at the end of 2020.
After the singer discovered that his ex-wife married Thomas Bates while still living in their $40 million Miami mansion, Collins served his ex-wife an eviction notice. She contested the eviction by claiming that Collins "refused to shower" and had a "stench that became so pervasive that he became a hermit." (Collins' lawyers refuted the claims, described them as "immaterial and impertinent" to the case and categorized Bates' allegations as a means of "extortion.")
Bates and her new husband moved out of the Miami home in mid-January 2021, but she is now auctioning off Collins' records and awards while awaiting the judge's decision on her claim that she's entitled to half of the home's proceeds once it sells.
Shannon & David Beador
Things were looking up for the Real Housewives of Orange County stars after David threw a surprise birthday and vow renewal ceremony for Shannon to celebrate their 16 years of marriage. The grand gesture was extra emotional considering the work the couple put into repairing their marriage after David's affair. Sadly, it wasn't enough to keep the duo together. Shannon filed for divorce from David in December 2017.
David agreed to pay Shannon $1.4 million "to equalize the division of community property," according to court documents obtained by The Blast. The former couple, who are parents to Sophie, 17, and 14-year-old twins Stella and Adeline, have agreed to joint legal and physical custody of their daughters and David will also pay Shannon $10,000 a month for spousal and child support.
Jeff & Mackenzie Bezos
Considering Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was named the world's richest man in June 2018, his 2019 divorce from his wife of 25 years was expensive.
Washington, where Bezos resides, is a community property state, which means that all assets and debts accrued during the marriage are considered owned equally by both spouses, unless there was a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise.
However, the former couple worked out terms privately, and in April 2019 announced they'd finalized their divorce, with Mackenzie walking away with around $36 billion — making her one of the richest women in the world. (By June 2020, she had already given $1.7 billion away to charity.)
Michael & Juanita Jordan
The basketball superstar split from his wife of 17 years, Juanita, in 2006. It wasn't the first time the two had considered ending their marriage: Juanita filed for divorce in 2002. She ended up receiving one of the biggest payouts in history, $168 million.
Paul McCartney & Heather Mills
While not as pricey as the Jordan divorce, the former Beatle's split from now ex-wife Mills is still one of the most expensive celebrity divorces ever: McCartney forked over nearly $50 million, and later called his marriage to Mills his biggest regret of the decade.
Amber Heard & Johnny Depp
Heard filed for divorce from Depp in 2016 after 15 months of marriage. She was later awarded $7 million in the divorce settlement, which she donated to charity. But the process wasn't that clean-cut: the pair's court battles turned ugly, with Heard accusing Depp of domestic abuse and him doing the same of her. The two eventually signed an NDA about the proceedings and moved on, though Heard later said the situation cost her several jobs.
The former couple spent much of 2020 and 2021 in court for a libel case against U.K.'s The Sun, which labeled Depp a "wife-beater." Depp lost the suit and the appeal.
Amy Irving & Steven Spielberg
Spielberg's first marriage, to actress Irving, lasted just four years, but produced one of the largest settlements in Hollywood, reported at being as much as $100 million.
Mel Gibson & Robyn Moore
Guy Ritchie & Madonna
Kim Basinger & Alec Baldwin
Basinger and Baldwin's divorce drama lasted for four years, mostly due to a custody battle over their daughter, Ireland. Their split was also full of name-calling; some of the insults thrown out included "black widow" and "tin pot tyrant." Basinger also said that she dreamt about Baldwin's death. Things have gotten better since 2002, though: she recently told Net-A-Porter's The Edit that the two are "cool now."
Denise Richards & Charlie Sheen
Another volatile celebrity divorce came in 2006 for Sheen and Richards. In court documents, Richards alleged that Charlie was abusive, slept with prostitutes during their marriage and tried to prevent his daughters from receiving common vaccinations. In released emails, Sheen called Richards a "sad jobless pig." They announced their plans to divorce just three years after they wed.
Ivana & Donald Trump
The former president's divorce from his first wife, Ivana, wasn't just expensive, it was dramatic. Trump cheated on Ivana with his eventual second wife, Marla Maples, in a scandal that claimed many a headline. Famously, Maples confronted Ivana in Aspen, where she reportedly said, "I'm Marla and I love your husband. Do you?" according to an interview Ivana gave to Barbara Walters. Reportedly, Ivana said to Maples, "You bitch, leave my husband alone." The divorce soon followed, with an estimated settlement of $25 million.
Melissa Mathison & Harrison Ford
Another high-profile celebrity divorce was Ford's split with ex-wife Mathison in 2004. The divorce came after 21 years of marriage and Mathison walked away with a large chunk of Ford's earnings after their settlement — $85 million, according to Forbes.
Princess Diana & Prince Charles
They were seen around the world as a fairy tale come true, but the reality for Charles and Diana was far from it. Both were unfaithful throughout the marriage, and separated in 1992. There was talk of reconciliation, but after Diana's famed Panorama interview in 1995, it seemed the marriages was destined to go south. The royals officially divorced in 1996, just one year before Diana's death.