Valentine's Day might be a time to celebrate love for one another, but let's not forget what happens when things turn sour. Of the umpteen romances that began with Champagne and strawberries, chocolate and love letters, many have ended in acrimony, alimony, and the financial strain of divorce. When some of the world's richest people break it off, the resulting settlements are sizable, and often include some eye-popping real estate. Rupert Murdoch, he of many hideouts, holds the dubious honor of participating in the most expensive divorce of all time: a whopping $1.7B. But seeing as we've already given the media mogul enough attention in these parts, we will delve into the ranks to find some more real estate lost or gained as a result of conjugal discord. So while you spend the night cuddling with a special someone—hey, even if you're all alone!—just be happy you haven't spent more than $150M on a marital mistake...yet.
The Saudi arms-dealer/financier Adnan Khashoggi had his grubby little fingers in every corrupt pie in the Cold War era. He found himself mixed up in the Iran-Contra affair and with the deposed and despised Marcos family of the Philippines, but that's not to say his shady enterprises didn't pay. In fact, he was considered the richest man in the world in the 1980s, commanding a personal empire that included several lavish villas, one of the world's then largest yachts, and a fleet of private aircraft. But all was not well in the House of Khashoggi, and in 1979, his ex-wife suited him to the tune of $2.54B. She ended up walking away with $874M as part of an out-of-court settlement. Though Khashoggi enjoyed a lavish lifestyle following the divorce, rumors of his insolvency persist. While there is no proof that the Saudi smoothtalker still owns this villa on the French Riviera (above), it's size—16 bedrooms—and price tag—more than $260M—give a none-too-vague notion of his vast, perhaps ill-gotten, wealth.
? Craig McCaw might not be a household name, but for what he paid to settle his divorce from wife Wendy, maybe he should be. One year after selling his telecom business to AT&T for $12B, he shelled out an estimated $460M to say goodbye to his college sweetheart forever. She also got (one of) their homes near Santa Barbara, this $9M estate on a bluff overlooking the beach. Over the years, she hasn't exactly endeared herself to the citizens of Santa Barbara. She's been waging a legal battle to prevent the public from accessing the beach beneath her massive estate, and she has been accused of manipulating the editorial staff at the Santa Barbara News-Press, which she purchased in 2000. What kick-started this infighting? The paper's publication of Rob Lowe's home address.
? Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich isn't shy about his spending, but his divorce from second wife Irina sure was a doozy. In it, she kept more than $100M in real estate alone, including an $80M London mansion and this country estate, known as Fyning Hill, which he paid more that $20M to acquire. That hasn't dented Abramovich's desire for pricey properties, however. He recently spent some $90M on a beachfront compound on the luxe Caribbean island of St. Barths, and is currently planning to renovate two London townhouses into one massive mansion as his urban oasis. The cost for that project? An estimated $250M.
? Lastly, while it might not be the most expensive, it was certainly the most talked-about divorce in recent memory. We speak, of course, of Paul McCartney's decision to settle his divorce proceedings with Heather Mills, the one-legged former model/activist. She ended up banking just $33M, but that didn't stop her from scooping up a pricey NYC pad, this full-floor two bedroom at Richard Meier's 173 Perry Street. Fickle in love, fickle in life it seems, as Mills is now looking to unload the apartment for $5.3M.
· Anyone Got $250,000,000 For A House? [RealEstalker]
· Divorce Has Hefty Price Tag for Celebrities, Billionaires [ABC News]
· A fight for journalism values in Santa Barbara [SFgate]
· Inside Roman Abramovich's palatial £150million home by Harrods.. that extends three storeys underground [Daily Mail]
· Upper classes lose grip on country homes [Telegraph]
· The Roman Empire [WSJ]
· Divorce Settlement, The Bitter End [People]
· Heather Mills Says Hello, Goodbye to 173 Perry [Curbed NY]