We’ve seen lots of billionaires losing their money as the stock market declines, but there is also another more traditional way to watch wealth evaporate: Divorce.
The simplest way to avoid this whole mess is to not get married. Why on earth billionaires ever get married is beyond us, but it keeps happening. (Granted some people get married before they become billionaires, but still). If you insist on “falling in love” then you’ll eventually be staring down the barrell of a divorce lawyer’s gun. Here’s some advice on how to handle it:
- Offshore Accounts:
Your good buddy, the offshore account can help you in divorce too. Bernie Ecclestone, founder of Formula One racing, divorced his wife Slavica. To sate her he put an undisclosed amount of his $3.7 billion fortune in a tax avoiding account offshore. Works well, but their divorce appears to be amicable.
- Give Away Your Crap Assets:
OK, this one’s a little tricky. When Bernie split with his wife he didn’t cede control of Formula One. Fine. But what if Formula One was going to face severe problems and he could unload some responsibility while taking care of his ex? That would be a good plan.
Timothy Blixseth, a former Forbes 400 guy till he was divorced, gave half of his stake in Yellowstone Club, a private resort for the posh to his wife, Edra. Guess what? Yellowstone is now bankrupt. She got her stake just 4 months ago. Timothy gets the benefit of forking over what seems like a bunch, but winds up being very little. Remember: What seems like gold now, might not glitter for much longer. Actually, that’s good advice for the alter too.
- Marry Someone Who Wants A Lot But Not Everything
Look, you’re a billionaire. Unless you dug a billion dollars out of the ground, we’re going to assume that you earned it through savvy business moves. So how about you use those business brains of yours to negotiate? Like Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. When his second wife left him she took a mere $300 million and a yacht and a private plane. Before you get your toupee in a bunch, consider this: He was worth $23.5 billion at his richest. That means she got just over 10% of his wealth. Not too bad. On the flip side, he’s lost $20 billion this year, so that $300 million is a bit tougher.
- Put Your Spouse On A Salary
There’s a few ways to do this, or think about it. One, literally put your spouse on contract at a set price. Not exactly romantic, but is romance ever really involved in these things? OK, can’t get the fiancee to agree to that arangement? We hear you. How about this, when you divorce you work out what the pay scale should have been. It’s sort of like what Sumner Redstone did when he split from his most recent wife. He was married to her for 5 years and she got $5 million for a divorce settlement. That’s a million a year, not bad. Think about it like this In marriage, you’re the CEO, she’s the COO. You’d pay your COO a million a year, right?
Some people might think this is unfair, giving all this advice to these billionaire jerks. We hear you, ladies (and men if you can trick a billionairess into marrying you.) Our advice to you: Keep doing what your doing and don’t ever let them off the hook.
Big Hat Tip to Forbes who wrote about all these divorces.