Inside Ivana and Donald Trump's Explosive — and Expensive — 1990s Divorce, Dubbed the 'Billion Dollar Blowup'

"Don't get mad, get everything," Ivana, playing herself, says in her iconic cameo in the 1996 divorce caper The First Wives Club

Ivana Trump, who died in her New York City home Thursday at the age of 73, was arguably one of the most famous divorcees in the world, thanks to her messy split in the early 1990s from a flashy real estate tycoon named Donald Trump.

A cameo in the 1996 divorce caper The First Wives Club demonstrated Ivana's status as a champion of women whose marriages have passed the expiration date.

"Don't get mad, get everything," Ivana, playing herself, proudly tells the film's main characters.

From left: Ivana and Donald Trump in 1990. Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images

Ivana and Donald married in 1977, nine months after meeting, and had three children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — before their relationship began to unravel more than a decade later, chronicled in media reports around the world.

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In New York City, details of the high-stakes divorce appeared on the front pages of the tabloid dailies for 11 days in a row. Iconic gossip columnist Liz Smith wrote about the end of the Trumps' marriage for months. A Feb. 1990 PEOPLE cover story on the divorce was headlined "Trump Vs. Trump: Billion Dollar Blowup."

Family portrait of, from left, socialite Ivana Trump, her son Eric Trump, her former husband businessman Donald Trump, and her daughter Ivanka Trump as they sit at a table at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1998. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
Davidoff Studios/Getty

"I can only shake my head at how it insane it was," Ivana wrote in her 2017 memoir Raising Trump. "I couldn't turn on the television without hearing my name."

In the book, Ivana wrote that she knew her marriage was doomed after a 1989 run-in with Marla Maples, who was having an affair with Donald and later married him, during a Christmastime ski holiday in Aspen.

"This young blonde woman approached me out of the blue and said 'I'm Marla and I love your husband. Do you?'" Ivana wrote. "I said 'Get lost. I love my husband.' It was unladylike but I was in shock."

The encounter happened outside of Bonnie's restaurant on Aspen Mountain in front of onlookers, according to a 2015 report in The Aspen Times.

"You're overreacting," Donald said, Newsweek reported in 1990.

RELATED VIDEO: Ivana Trump, Businesswoman and Ex-Wife of Donald Trump, Dead at 73

Ivana reportedly skied off down the hill with her husband in pursuit, but it was Maples who was reportedly by his side at a New Year's Eve party days later. Ivana called up the host of the party, according to Newsweek, to ask if her husband and his mistress were there.

"I was in Aspen standing right next to her when she was screaming at Donald about his 'whore' Marla Maples," a family friend told PEOPLE of the incident. "That was the only time I ever saw her not being poised."

Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare, relaxes at his home with his wife, Ivana Trump
Donald Trump and Ivana Trump in 1987. Joe McNally/Getty

Quoting Maples weeks later, The New York Post published a front-page story with the headline: "Best Sex I Ever Had."

By February, Donald's spokesperson revealed to reporters that his client "told Ivana it just was not working out."

But the divorce wasn't finalized until 1992. Money, of course, had everything to do with the delay.

According to reports, Ivana had repeatedly signed a nuptial agreement that put a $25 million limit on what she could take in a divorce settlement. The agreement also granted her custody of the couple's children, a Connecticut mansion, spousal, and child support, plus time at Mar-a-Lago.

An attorney representing Ivana called the document "unconscionable and fraudulent," according to Newsweek, hoping she could fight for more in the settlement because of her contributions in building the Trump empire.

Vice president of interior design for the family business, Ivana had managed one of the Trump Organization's premier properties, the opulent Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. As the couple fought over the divorce in 1990, Donald reportedly locked her out of her office at the hotel in another tabloid-friendly episode.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 9 1988: Businessman Donald Trump and first wife Ivana walking from Trumps Yacht The Trump Princess in Atlantic City, New Jersey July 9 1988. (Photo by Jeffrey Asher/ Getty Images)
Jeffrey Asher/ Getty

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In a deposition during the divorce proceedings, Ivana was under oath when she accused her estranged husband of rape.

Asked in 2017 about his ex-wife's accusation, Donald told PEOPLE: "It never took place."

"I referred to this as a 'rape,' but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense," Ivana said in a statement.

As ugly as the divorce fight got, Donald and Ivana put their differences behind them for the sake of their kids.

"If you're a child growing up in school and your parents are on the cover of the newspaper every day for months with their divorce, it's a tough thing," Ivana told PEOPLE. "But even with that, children are really strong, and I learned that through that whole process."

In announcing her death Thursday, the former president wrote fondly of his ex-wife, calling her a "wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great inspirational life" in a post on his Truth Social app.

"Her pride and joy were her three children," Donald said. "She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her. Rest in Peace, Ivana!"

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