From private jets to diamond rings, exotic pets, and luxury yachts, high-net-worth couples often play tug of war with very unusual assets. Jewelry can be easy to hide, and the same is true of accounts in faraway tax havens. Playing down the value of complex assets is another strategy often used to avoid giving the non-money spouse his or her dues.
1. The Supermodel’s Blue Diamond Ring
When former top model Christina Estrada divorced billionaire Sheikh Walid Juffali, there was a lengthy dispute over the whereabouts of a $4 million-dollar Chopard ring her husband had given her in St. Barts. The blue diamond ring was flown to the Caribbean island by a Chopard employee, and Estrada received it from a troupe of musicians during a romantic evening.
During the divorce, the Saudi magnate told the court he had secured the ring in an undisclosed location, due to security concerns. When the judge ordered him to produce the ring, Juffali said he had given it to someone else, and offered to give Estrada $2 million to make up for the loss.
2. The Unscrupulous Businessman’s Multi-million-dollar Jewelry Collection
Scot Young was a known fixer for Russian oligarchs living in the UK. His wife Michelle told the court during their intricate divorce battle that Young kept a watch collection worth over a million pounds, and that both her wedding ring and a diamond set she received as a birthday gift had cost about the same.
Young kept telling the court that he was in no position to pay the kind of settlement his former spouse was demanding, claiming the wedding ring and the watches only cost a few hundred thousand altogether, but the judge didn’t buy it. The dubious businessman was eventually forced to pay a 20-million-pound divorce settlement.
3. Michael Douglas’ ‘Wall Street 2’ Earnings
Michael Douglas and his former wife Diandra spent over 14 years discussing the terms of a divorce settlement that was finalized in 2000, and which granted her $45 million from the Wall Street star.
But after the sequel to Wall Street was released in 2010, Diandra filed suit arguing that she should receive half of the actor’s earnings from the movie, which was titled Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps. According to the lawsuit, Douglas had agreed to split with her earnings from any spinoff of his films.
Eventually, the court ruled that Diandra was not entitled to any of the proceeds from the new film, because negotiations about a spinoff only began long after the divorce was finalized.
4. The Russian Oligarch’s $500-Million Yacht
The Luna is more like a luxury resort than a yacht. Featuring two heliports, a pool, a spa, a crew of 50, and accommodations for 18 guests, it is equipped with $4-million lifeboats. When UK-based Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov was ordered by an English court to pay $646 million to his former wife Tatiana, he refused, arguing they had legally divorced in Russia.
The UK’s most expensive divorce to date has brought the billionaire many headaches. As he refused to pay, the judge ordered him to hand over the yacht to Tatiana. The vessel was subsequently impounded in a Dubai harbor, where it had been taken for maintenance. Last December, Akhmedov was forced to sell a helicopter worth $5 million to make the first payment to his ex.
5. The Art Mogul’s Manhattan Townhouse
David Mugrabi is an art dealer and the son of an Israeli billionaire. He owns possibly the biggest collection of pieces by Andy Warhol. Mugrabi and his wife, Libbie, owned a townhouse in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, valued at $72 million. Among claims of infidelity on his part and a fierce battle over priceless works of art, David was found to have recently transferred ownership of the townhouse to a limited liability company which is controlled by one of his brothers. He was likely trying to prevent the property from being disputed in the divorce.
David and Libbie were partners in their art dealing business, and she wants her share of his $5-billion net-worth. The divorce settlement will not be easy on account of the complexity of the couple’s assets, which involve not only works of art but also many offshore corporations.