If there is any doubt about the saying “money can’t buy love,” then last week’s bombshell that the world’s richest man divorced his wife of 25 years goes a long way in dispelling those doubts.
Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man with a fortune that has soared to more than $160 billion (£125.3 billion) thanks to his stake in Amazon, which again became Wall Street’s most valuable company last week, after surpassing Bill Gates’ Microsoft.
Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce in a joint statement last Wednesday on Twitter.
“After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the couple said in the statement.
The 48-year-old MacKenzie is the author of The Testing of Luther Albright (2005) and Traps (2013). She grew up in San Francisco and attended Princeton University.
The couple met when Jeff interviewed MacKenzie for a job at a New York hedge fund in 1993. They got engaged after three months of dating and married shortly after. One year later he founded Amazon – which began as an online book retailer
At a Business Insider event in Berlin last April, Jeff Bezos said MacKenzie’s support was instrumental when he founded Amazon as an online bookseller in 1994, and that she did the accounting for the company in its first year.
“When you have loving and supportive people in your life like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks,” he said at the event.
Amazon shares dipped slightly immediately following the divorce announcement.
Washington, where the couple 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.
It has not been made public whether Bezos and MacKenzie had a prenup when they married before moving to Seattle and founding Amazon.
The divorce announcement was prompted by news that the National Enquirer magazine had been set to release an exclusive story in its latest edition, revealing the eight-month affair of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a helicopter pilot and former television anchor.
The magazine claimed that the lovers had been dating since last year and that Bezos met Sanchez for illicit trysts as often as six times in two weeks, took her on exotic holidays on his $65 million private jet and sent her erotic selfies “too explicit to print”.
A source close to the Bezos told DailyMail.com that the Amazon founder only began seeing Sanchez after separating from his wife, however, the National Enquirer claims the affair went on behind their spouses’ backs.
The Enquirer says it trailed Bezos for four months in what it calls the “largest investigation” in the magazine’s history, with its photographer catching the lovebirds “doing the dirty on their spouses”.
However, they say they have evidence of the affair staring several months before their investigation began.
They say they followed Bezos and Sanchez “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.”
Sanchez is still married to Hollywood talent mogul husband Patrick Whitesell, and sources say they separated late last year.
Path to Wealth
From modest beginnings as an online bookseller, Bezos and Amazon branched out into almost every product category available, ending up taking on established retail giants such as Wal-Mart Stores.
Under Bezos, Amazon launched the Kindle e-reader and revolutionized the way books are distributed and read. The company has also been a pioneer in cloud computing.
Last year, Bezos bested Bill Gates on Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s billionaires and is about $45bn ahead of Bill Gates.
Continuing, the couple’s statement said: “We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other.
“If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures.
“Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”
The couple have four children – three sons, and an adopted daughter.
Sanchez, is also divorcing her husband and Hollywood agent Patrick Whitesell. The two have been married for 13 years. Whitesell is one of Hollywood’s most powerful agents.
Sources say Bezos and Sanchez looked friendly at a Golden Globes after a party last Sunday. Another insider tells PEOPLE, “Patrick and Lauren have been on and off for a while and have been separated. Patrick knew they were seeing each other.”
The former Good Day LA host and frequent contributor to Extra and The View shares two kids with Whitesell and also has a son from a previous relationship.