One of the chief reasons to become a billionaire in the first place is so that anyone you could possibly be attracted to would at least consider the idea of marrying you, and most of them would probably do a lot more than consider it. But as with all things, there's a downside to that equation, one which is being experienced right now by Russia's richest citizen Vladimir Potanin. Potanin's ex-wife Natalia Potanina is seeking a divorce settlement the sum of which would make it a world record holder for most expensive divorce. It was an easy calculation for her to make – of Potanin's nearly $16 billion net worth ($15.8b to be exact), Potanina wants half.
If Vladimir Potanin's ex gets her wish, it won't be the first time that the Russian metals magnate has experienced a huge drop in his net worth. He first became a billionaire in 1998, thanks to some good breaks and savvy business moves following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ten years later, he was the 25th richest person on the entire planet, whose net worth was estimated to be nearly $20 billion. But a year or so after that, the global financial collapse happened, and Potanin had to get rid of enough assets to bring his overall net worth down to a relatively paltry $2 billion. It's too bad for his sake that he didn't get divorced then, it would have been a much smaller loss for him.
But luck just wasn't with Potanin this time, and he didn't get divorced until February of 2014, after his assets had exploded again to around $15 billion. He offered his ex-wife alimony to the tune of $250,000 a month, plus properties he owns in Moscow, London, and New York. She wanted more, though, believing that under Russian law she's entitled to precisely half of everything he's got, including the bulk of his assets which are not stored on Russian shores (probably a good idea since it's, you know, Russia). Interestingly, during a recent interview Potanina said that any shares of her ex-husband's company Norilsk to the Russian state to "avoid corporate conflicts." During the same interview she estimated that she and her husband had spent as much as $10 million on summer vacations over the course of their marriage.
If Natalia Potanina gets her wish, the more than $7 billion divorce settlement will break a record that was previously held by another Russian divorce – the $4.5 billion split between Russian oligarch Dmitry Ryobolev and his wife Elena (he's appealing the settlement in court). To see a full list of the most expensive divorces of all time click here.
As for Vladimir Potanin, he has already remarried since divorcing his wife of 30 years just last year. That might help explain why his ex-wife is seeking such a massive settlement, but it also makes me think that if he keeps this up he'll be out of money after two dozen or so divorces. Interestingly, Potanin is also one of the billionaire signers of Warren Buffett's "Giving Pledge," in which billionaires promise to give away at least half of their fortunes. I wonder if the pledge includes a divorce clause.