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After her divorce from billionaire Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Bezos could become the world's richest woman

Business Insider | Jan 10, 2019, 12.27AM IST

Jeff Bezos wife MacKenzie

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MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos have been married for 25 years.

Billionaire couple Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage, sparking immediate speculation as to how their massive fortune will be divided up.

The Amazon CEO is worth $137 billion, making him the richest man in the world. But depending on how the couple ends up splitting their assets, he could be toppled from that position and MacKenzie Bezos could gain the title of world's richest woman.

Jeff and MacKenzie live in Washington state, one of nine US states where everything acquired throughout the marriage - from real estate to income - is considered joint property. That means their assets could be split 50/50, unlike in the other 41 states, where a marital estate is made up of assets acquired under each spouse's name and isn't considered joint property unless both names are on the deed, as Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback reported.

Jeff founded Amazon after he and MacKenzie got married, Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported, which could mean MacKenzie has a right to half of her husband's Amazon fortune.

If MacKenzie walked away from the divorce settlement with exactly half of Jeff's fortune, that would make her worth an estimated $68.5 billion - the richest woman in the world by nearly $23 billion.

Jeff Bezos MacKenzie Bezos

Dia Dipasupil / Staff

In Jeff and MacKenzie's home state of Washington, their real estate and income is considered joint property.

The current richest woman is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who controls 33% of L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics maker, and is worth $45.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. According to Forbes, however, Meyers is worth $44.7 billion, putting her slightly behind Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, worth $44.8 billion.

Either way, MacKenzie Bezos's net worth could potentially surpass both of theirs after the divorce.

"In my view, the parties probably have a very complicated asset structure," Michael Stutman, a New York-based divorce attorney, told Business Insider. "I am sure that there are a number of investment vehicles that have been already set up for their children and possibly other parties. While the two of them will be in control of a large portion of their financial empire, it's certainly not clear that it will be in the full amount that has been publicly cited."

In addition to their sprawling Washington estate, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos own several other properties throughout the US, including two Beverly Hills mansions bought for a combined $37.4 million, a 30,000-acre Texas ranch, the largest home in Washington, DC, and a set of four Manhattan condos in a historic building overlooking Central Park.

It's unknown whether the couple ever signed a prenuptial agreement. But it's possible they signed a postnuptial agreement after Amazon took off - MacKenzie was one of Amazon's earliest employees - which is similar to a prenup, but takes place after a couple has married.

"If there was a prenuptial agreement, as long as that prenup is valid, its provisions would be followed, even if a different result was obtained than by following the laws of Washington State," Stutman said. "Similarly, if there was a postnuptial agreement, it too would be followed as long as it is valid."

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