Everything We Know So Far About Jeff And MacKenzie Bezos' Scandalous, High-Profile Divorce
He's worth an estimate of at least $137 billion, is suspected to have had an extra-marital affair, and might not be protected by a pre-nup. How will Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos come to an amicable separation with his soon-to-be ex-wife MacKenzie Tuttle?
Here's what we know so far about what's turning out to be one of the business world's trickiest divorces.
Divorces are rarely smooth sailing, even for ordinary folks. So when it involves the richest man—nay, person—in the world, things get extra complicated.
Such is the story of Jeff Bezos, the man who founded Amazon, a company that started out with selling and shipping books and in two decades, grew to become a multi-national giant leading in e-commerce, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and innovative online selling.
The 1994-founded Amazon made Jeff a millionnaire within three years of its founding, and over time, awarded him with a net worth of $137 billion. To put that figure into perspective, Jeff has surpassed Bill Gates' wealth, can afford to buy all of Oprah Winfrey's assets, and is the first person to surprass the $100-billion net worth mark in all of mankind's history.
One might assume that having pockets as deep as Jeff's equate to fulfillment in life, but there was one thing that his seemingly endless resources couldn't buy: a happy marriage.
Rumors of a fallout between Jeff and MacKenzie Tuttle, an author and his wife of 25 years, began swirling late last year when the two were no longer seen attending events together. Often regular faces in by-invitation only affairs, the two were nowhere to be found and instead, only Jeff would step out onto the red carpet.
With no reliable way to confirm a split between the two, the media was in a frenzy when Jeff himself ended all speculation after Tweeting a statement signed by both him and MacKenzie, confirming their divorce and that included a bit of backstory.
The suddenness of the revelation sparked a new series of rumors and headlines; the National Enquirer led the storm of stories, claiming that it had been investigating the tech mogul for months, observing his activities in several US states, and making some shocking discoveries of its own.
Together with reports published by other news outlets, the most notable discoveries about Jeff's dark secrets include the following:
He's been unfaithful to MacKenzie for months
The decision to divorce didn't come out of nowhere, as told by the National Enquirer.
According to them, it was found out that Jeff had been in an extra-marital affair with Lauren Sanchez, a high-public figure herself, for the last eight months. The Mexican-American personality is a former Fox network anchor, who previously hosted So You Think You Can Dance?
But the cherry on the cake is that Lauren, too, was married at the time of the affair, and to one of Jeff's buddies. Her husband, Patrick Whitesell, was the other unfortunate part of this scandalous love triangle, a top-tier Hollywood agent whose clients include bigwigs like Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, and Hugh Jackman.
Jeff was "serious" about Lauren
The National Enquirer sent even more shockwaves throughout its readership when they provided a series of text messages as evidence of Jeff and Lauren's romantic involvement.
Sent by Jeff, one of the messages detailed his feelings about his mistress. In part, one of them reads, "I want to smell you, want to breathe you in. I want to hold you tight.… want to kiss your lips...," and ends with Jeff proclaiming that he was in love with Lauren.
His other messages had similar sentiments; he nicknamed Lauren "alive girl" and spoke of his attraction to her "spirit," unabashedly described his fantasies about them spending the night together and sharing a made-for-two breakfast in the morning, and repeatedly told her that he felt that they were made to be together and had chosen each other. (Note: In Jeff's defense, it's speculated that he and Lauren started seeing each other after he and MacKenzie began their trial separation).
Additionally, some publications have stated that Jeff went as far as sending Lauren raunchy photographs of himself sans clothing, regular selfies, and even more explicit shots of his genitals.
Going beyond words, the 54-year-old billionnaire was also reported to have taken multiple trips with the ex-TV personality on his private jet, booked expensive overnight stays in hotels and private estates for them, and shared many a dinner in five-star restaurants together. The two had also been spotted spending nights in each other's homes when both their spouses or families were away.
The timing was everything
Looking back at the timing of Jeff and MacKenzie's sudden divorce announcement, reporters were quick to piece the timeline together in a theory about the sequene of events behind this saga.
First off, it's suspected that Jeff had found out that he had been discovered. His Twitter bomb was simply a way to get a headstart on what he knew would be a hailstorm of headlines, an attempt to cushion what he expected to be a messy investigation into his personal life.
Secondly, it was also made public that Lauren and Patrick had similarly filed for divorce around the same time as Jeff and MacKenzie. Though theirs has been relatively less public, Lauren and Jeff's almost simultaneous decisions to part with their spouses sure raise eyebrows.
Thirdly, Jeff was photographed to still be wearing his wedding band (and with MacKenzie) at one of the Golden Globes after-parties held on January 6. Three days later, the husband and wife would go on social media to announce their divorce and how a trial separation from months ago had led to the decision to permanently call it quits. The suddenness of it all is still open to interpretation, but it's widely believed that it was all due to Jeff discovering that his affair was about to make it to international news.
The impact of the pre-nup, or rather, absence of it
Here's where this divorce gets an added layer of complexity. Jeff and MacKenzie reside in Washington state, where marital laws state that all assets amassed after a marriage are evenly split in half between a husband and wife should they divorce, unless explicitly stated otherwise in a pre-nup.
It seems that Jeff and MacKenzie do not have a pre-nup nor any other legal document stating that Jeff's assets are solely his own. That means that his billion-dollar fortune composed of real estate, 16% of Amazon shares, grants, and other properties and investments could be divided into half, potentially making MacKenzie the richest woman in the world after they divorce.
Neither party has spoken up about the issue, which, after setting aside the emotional impacts of this dire situation, could be the biggest issue of them all.
World's most expensive divorce?
Further analysis of Jeff's divorce will, unfortunately, also have consequences in the world of business.
When a man who controls a company as influential and well-connected as Amazon goes through an issue like this, it's a natural occurrence for its stockholders to worry about the future.
The tension comes mostly from the uncertainty of how Jeff's Amazon shares will be split up with his wife, or whether he'll be allowed to keep them all. If divided, no one can know for sure what MacKenzie might do with them, and as early as now, the messy divorce has made a number of risk-averse investors pull out from Amazon, causing its stocks to plummet, albeit only minimally, as of this writing.
On the other hand, investors who have kept their feet firmly planted in Amazon are braving another set of worries; dizzyingly pricey attorney's fees, the possibility of Jeff spending massive amounts of money in making a new life for himself (should MacKenzie become the owner of their current Seattle residence and home-related assets), and providing for four children who are all minors as a single parent are all issues they're foreseeing.
Similarly, the charitable institutions Amazon is connected with also worry about their patrons' credibility; a sour divorce could mean a halting of donations and no one wants that, especially when they're made for the benefit of anti-bullying initiatives through MacKenzie's Bystander Revolution organization and school-age immigrants with dreams of earning a college degree (among many other advocacies), most of which are made through the use of AmazonSmile.
Again, only time will tell what the future of Amazon and the organizations connected to it will be in relation to this divorce that could cost the company billions.
High-profile celebrity divorces
A lot of high-profile celebrity divorces happened through the years. There's Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston back in 2005, a five-year relationship that ended when Angelina Jolie entered the picture; later on, Brad and Angelina also ended up filing for divorce. Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan got divorced in 2001. Michael Jordan and Juanita Jordan's divorce was finalized in 2007, with Juanita reportedly walking away with $168 million. Madonna and Sean Penn was married for four years until they called it quits in 1989. Madonna and Sean both remarried and ended up divorcing their respective partners: Guy Ritchie and Madonna's eight-year marriage ended in 2008 while Sean and Robin Wright's 14-year marriage ended in 2010. Also in 2008, Heather MIlls got $48.6 million from divorcing Sir Paul McCartney. After less than a year of marriage, Tiger Woods and Ellen Nordegren parted ways in 2010. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's 11-year marriage ended in 2001, while his marriage to Katie Holmes only lasted from 2006 to 2012. A more recent case is Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, who were only married for 15 months and went their separate ways in 2016.
It seems, too, that the last few months have been filled with unlucky romances as Jeff and MacKenzie haven't been the only ones to call it quits. Hollywood superstar Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux bid each other farwell last year just as Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan did. Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower (after 20 years of marriage!) also got divorced. Shia LaBeouf and Mia Goth went their separate ways after two years of togetherness as husband and wife.
What do you think? How will Jeff and MacKenzie's divorce play out? Will Jeff and Lauren become a couple and find lasting happiness in each other? What will become of Amazon, the world's richest company, when the sand settles?
Photos from @jeffbezos