5 of the world's most expensive divorces

Jamie Cooper, the estranged wife of billionaire hedge fund manager Chris Hohn, leaves the High Court after a divorce hearing, in central London in this Oct 10, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Jamie Cooper, the estranged wife of billionaire hedge fund manager Chris Hohn, leaves the High Court after a divorce hearing, in central London in this Oct 10, 2014 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

In the largest divorce settlement in British legal history, hedge fund manager Chris Hohn has been ordered to pay his estranged wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn 337 million pounds (S$689.4 million).

Mr Hohn, 48, and his US-born wife, 49, run the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, one of the top private charities in the world. They were feuding over a forture of more than US$1.3 billion (S$1.7 billion), judges say.

However, that amount, eye-watering as it seems, pales in comparison to other big-money split-ups. Here's a list of what are thought to be the world's most expensive divorces:

1. Dmitry Rybolovlev and Elena Rybolovleva

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Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, 48, who earned his fortune in fertiliser and has an estimated net worth of US$8.8 billion, divorced his wife Elena Rybolovleva, 47, after 24 years of marriage. In May this year, a Swiss court awarded her US$4.8 billion in divorce settlement. It was described as the most expensive divorce in history by one of Ms Rybolovleva's lawyers.

Most painfully of all, the tycoon passed up the chance to end the battle at a much more comfortable sum of US$1 billion a year before that, when Ms Rybolovleva decided to settle for that amount.

2. Alec Wildenstein and Jocelyn Wildenstein

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When Ms Jocelyn Wildenstein, a New York socialite known for her many cosmetic surgery procedures, divorced art dealer Alec Wildenstein in 1999, she received a US$2.5 billion settlement, plus an annual US$100 million for the next 13 years, according to reports from American and British tabloids.

Ms Wildenstein came to be known as the Bride of Wildenstein due to her multiple facelifts that left her face looking bizarre, no doubt financed by the hefty sum she won in the split.

Mr Wildenstein, an heir of arguably the richest family in the art world, died of cancer in 2008, aged 67.

3. Rupert Murdoch and Anna Tory Murodoch

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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 83, divorced his second wife of 31 years, Anna, with a settlement of US$1.7 billion in 1999, according to reports. Anna, now 70, remarried six months later.

Mr Murdoch also remarried, beating his former wife to the altar with his nuptials just 17 days after their divorce. His bride was China-born Ms Wendi Deng, a Yale graduate and vice-president at one of his TV companies.

The couple divorced in November last year, with Ms Deng, 45, keeping their Manhattan apartment, in what is considered an amicable settlement.

Mr Murdoch has since said that Ms Deng's rumoured affair with former British prime minister Tony Blair led him to divorce her.

4. Bernie Ecclestone and Slavica Ecclestone

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Formula One head honcho Bernie Ecclestone, 84, known more for his fast car races and his immense wealth, settled his divorce from former wife Slavica, 56, for a reported US$1.2 billion in 2009, according to Forbes.

However, in a highly unusual arrangement, the former model's trust fund has paid Mr Ecclestone 300 million pounds since the divorce, making him possibly the world's richest kept man.

5. Harold Hamm and Sue Ann Hamm

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Continental Resources chief executive Harold Hamm, 68, was told by an Oklahoma court in November this year to pay his second wife of 26 years and former Continental executive Sue Ann Hamm almost US$1 billion.

But his 58-year-old ex-wife has decried the amount as unfair, and intends to appeal the ruling. A key question considered by the judge was how much of Mr Hamm's fortune was amassed through his own skill and hard work. Several lawyers expressed surprise at how small the sum was.

Mr Hamm has a controlling 68 per cent stake in oil giant Continental, currently worth nearly US$14 billion. Time magazine included him in its 2012 list of the 100 most influential people.

Sources: Reuters, Forbes, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Agence France-Presse, Straits Times archives