Roman Abramovich ended his second marriage with a reputed settlement of £150 million ($246m) – small change for a multibillionaire.
This time, the Russian oligarch and owner of Chelsea FC may not be so lucky, after announcing that he has separated from his third wife, Dasha Zhukova.
The couple, who married in 2008 and have two children, insisted the split was amicable, but they could get embroiled in the world’s costliest divorce if forced to untangle the tycoon’s £7 billion ($11.5b) fortune.
Mr Abramovich, 50, owns the football club, the second largest yacht in the world and several luxury properties, including a £60 million mansion in New York and a £50 million property in Kensington Palace Gardens.
Among his fleet of supercars is a Ferrari FXX prototype worth around £1.5 million and a Bugatti Veyron, priced at £2 million.
However, Ms Zhukova, an art collector who is 15 years Mr Abramovich’s junior.
In a joint statement, the couple said: “After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together.”
Legal experts said they expected Mr Abramovich to have a prenuptial agreement in place and any divorce proceedings would be dealt with by a Russian court in order to protect his assets, much like his previous divorce, when he is understood to have ended his 16-year marriage to second wife Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina at a cost of £150 million in Moscow in 2007
Details have remained hidden under Russia’s secretive legal system, but it is thought Ms Malandina was given a lump sum as well as four homes and provision for their five children.
Mr Abramovich and Miss Zhukova were first seen together in public in 2005.
The oligarch was still married to Ms Malandina, but their friendship strengthened and Miss Zhukova and her father, Alexander Zhukov, were invited to Mr Abramovich’s New Year party later that year.
Her father is an oil, metals and banking tycoon who owns a mansion block in Kensington, west London, as well as homes in New York and Moscow.
The couple married secretly around nine years ago. Their first child, Mr Abramovich’s sixth, Aaron Alexander, was born in December 2009 and daughter Leah Lou was born in April 2013, both in the US.
Mr Abramovich married his first wife, Olga Yurevna Lysova, in December 1987 but was divorced just three years later. He wed Ms Malandina in 1991, before he made his fortune in the Russian privatisation boom.
Raymond Tooth, a London divorce lawyer, said it was “inconceivable” that Mr Abramovich and Ms Zukhova would not have a pre-nup.
“He will have done a deal and will sort it out in Russia to avoid any claims in an English court,” he said.
The Telegraph, London