Madonna's and Guy Ritchie's settlement makes her the only female payee on our list.
Though the most expensive celebrity divorces have historically been the provenance of superstar men and their relatively unknown wives, leave it to Madonna to break the pattern.
Tuesday, a spokesman for the material girl said Madonna would pay some $76 million to $92 million to her former husband Guy Ritchie, putting the former couple's split at No. 4 on our list of the most expensive celebrity divorces. Wednesday, however, the couple issued a statement disputing--but not updating--the numbers.
A misleading and inaccurate statement, specifically in relation to the sums of money involved, was wrongly issued to [the Associated Press] this week," said the statement. "The financial details of the settlement will remain private, save to say that both of us are happy with our agreement. Our primary concern, like any co-parents, is the care and well-being of our children."
The divorce, announced in October 2008, ended eight years of marriage. Speculation that the settlement would be complicated and drawn out proved false, as Madge and Guy were granted a fast-track divorce on November. The split will become final in January, assuming neither side contests the filing, in which Madonna cited Guy's "unreasonable behavior." The material girl made $40 million last year.
Celebrity divorces are big business. Tabloids voraciously cover them; fans hungrily follow them; lawyers and business managers protectively orchestrate them. And they certainly are common.
Many Hollywood marriages last barely long enough for the ink to dry on the marriage licenses. Singer Kid Rock and Baywatch babe Pam Anderson were wed for just four months. Actress Drew Barrymore's nuptials to comic Tom Green hit the skids after five months. Pop diva Jennifer Lopez and backup dancer Chris Judd managed to make it to the eight-month mark before calling it quits.
Who did what to whom is far less important in a celebrity divorce than who gives what to whom. Generally, the bigger the star, the greater the payout. For the show biz legends who landed on our list of the 10 Most Expensive Celebrity Divorces, the spectacular settlements with their exes made Hollywood history.
The list is populated almost exclusively by superstar men who settled with their ex-wives--a reflection of the historic dominance men have played in the entertainment industry. Though stars like Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson have ponied up settlements to their ex-husbands, only Madonna can keep company with the wealthiest male divorcées.
Expensive as these divorces are, the stars can certainly afford them. Many of them have dominated our annual Celebrity 100 ranking of the world's most powerful--and best-paid--stars for years. For instance, Steven Spielberg, who split from wife Amy Irving in the late 1980s, made $130 million last year alone (overall, his net worth is estimated at $3.1 billion). Genesis, fronted by Phil Collins, who divorced third wife Orianne Cevey with a reported $47 million settlement last August, pulled in $31 million on tour last year.
By and large, these weren't quickie marriages--after all, in general, the longer the marriage, the richer the payout. On average, these one-time power couples were married for 12.5 years, and the settlements reflect that. Case in point: Former television producer Marcia Murphey walked away with $150 million, half her ex's fortune. She's "worth every penny," remarked her husband of 25 years, music icon Neil Diamond.
And the divorce between basketball great Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita, married for nearly 18 years, could be the most expensive show biz divorce ever. Jordan earned much of his vast fortune during the course of the marriage--mostly off the court, thanks to rich endorsement deals.
And to prove that divorce hasn't soured them to marriage, several members of the list have remarried. Following his divorce from Amy Irving, Spielberg wed Indiana Jones actress Kate Capshaw. And after 10 years as a bachelor, Kevin Costner, once one of Hollywood's most ubiquitous and top-earning actors, was remarried in 2004 to Christine Baumgartner, nearly 20 years his junior.