Rybolovlev, 47, met his wife Elena when they were both medical students in Perm, Russia, and married in 1987. In those days Rybolovlev was not nearly as wealthy as he is today so he felt no need for prenuptial.
After becoming a doctor, Rybolovlev changed directions first becoming an entrepreneur, then a stock broker, then a banker. He then secured the chairmanship of a large fertilizer company Uralkali worth approximately $34 billion, according to the Washington Post. As majority shareholder of the fertilizer company, the oligarch amassed his significant wealth, an estimated $8.8 billion.
Dmitry’s penchant for extramarital affairs however would be his undoing. Although his wife turned a blind eye to his philandering for many years, she finally became frustrated and filed for divorce, initially asking for $6 billion.
But on Monday, a Swiss court ordered him to pay his estranged wife Elena $4.5 billion to settle their divorce. She was also awarded property in Gstaad, Switzerland worth $1.46 million, and two properties in an exclusive community in Geneva. No value was given for the Geneva properties the couple once shared.
Under Swiss law, a wife is entitled to half of the fortune a spouse makes during their marriage. Because of this Dmitry transferred a large portion of his wealth to offshore accounts in Cyprus, but Swiss courts are tenacious about tracking down hidden assets.
Elena’s attorneys Marc Bonnant called the settlement, “the most expensive divorce in history.” But Bonnant added, he expects Dmitry to appeal the decision.
Elena, 47, was also awarded custody of the couple’s 13 year-old daughter Anna.
They also have an adult daughter Ekaterina who famously purchased one of the largest apartments in Manhattan, worth $100 million, so she could have a place to stay when she traveled to New York.
This may be the largest divorce settlement in history but as the Washington Post pointed out many billionaires have their divorce documents sealed so whether this is the largest is unclear. There could be larger settlements we will never know about.
Before Dmitry Rybolovlev, the largest divorce settlement was paid by media magnate Rupert Murdoch when he divorced his second wife Anna in 1999. He was ordered to pay her $1.2 billion and moved on with a much younger Wendi Deng who he divorced last fall for an undisclosed amount.
Unlike Rybolovlev, Murdoch and Deng signed a prenuptial agreement before they married just two months after his divorce from Anna Torv was settled.
When Rybolovlev was married in the late 80s, prenuptials were not as common as they are today and he may have never known how much wealth he would amass. Had he allowed a divorce attorney to draft a prenuptial he might have avoided having hide his assets or splitting his wealth in half.