GENERICO.ruEconomicsDivorce as a path to wealth: the extraordinary adventures of an “Amazon” who left a billionaire

Divorce as a path to wealth: the extraordinary adventures of an “Amazon” who left a billionaire

The ex-wife of a world-famous businessman promised to spend all income on charity

Someone, in order to become rich, marries a wealthy husband. And someone, in order to become the richest, gets divorced. This is exactly what happened in the life of Mackenzie Scott, who in 2020, after divorcing her multi-billionaire husband in 2020, was officially recognized as the richest woman in the world. This happened due to the fact that after the division of property with the “former” – the creator of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who at that time headed the Forbes billionaires rating – she received 4% of the shares of the ex-husband’s company. However, Mackenzie did not intend to rest at the top of the ranking of rich ladies, promising to spend money on charity “until the safe is empty.” She trembles at her words and over the past years has dropped down in the Forbes women's list, but her safe is far from empty.

The ex-wife of a world famous businessman promised to spend all income on charity

According to Forbes magazine for 2023, Mackenzie Scott's net worth is $43.6 billion. With this tidy sum, she ranks only 9th in the ranking of the world's wealthiest women according to the same magazine. But this was not always the case: just recently, in 2020, when at the height of the pandemic, shares of Amazon, a company specializing in e-business, greatly increased in price, an American woman was recognized as the richest woman on the planet.

< p>Mackenzie, whose maiden name is Tuttle, was born on April 7, 1970 in San Francisco, California. Her father was a financial planner and her mother was a homemaker. In the family, the girl grew up with two brothers. Since childhood, I have been interested in literature, and not only as a reader. She wrote her first 142-page book, The Bookworm, at the age of six, but the work was not preserved in the family archive. With such talents, the parents sent the girl to get an education at the Hotchkiss School – this elite educational institution is an English-style day boarding school, the graduates of which enter the best universities in the United States. So young Mackenzie in 1988 decided to continue her education at Princeton University. The future “Amazon” graduated from the university in 1992, receiving a bachelor’s degree in English.

After university, the young girl was faced with a sobering reality beyond the boundaries of the university walls and the world of her beloved literature. In order to make ends meet, she had to work part-time as a dishwasher, a waitress, a clothing salesman, a cashier, a nanny… However, the funds she received were still not enough, so Mackenzie decided to put aside her dreams of literary fame for a while and got a job at the New York D.E. Foundation. Shaw as an administrative assistant. This company is still involved in investment management and is famous for developing complex mathematical models and computer programs to calculate anomalies in financial markets. Employment became fateful. In the same 1992, Mackenzie met a then unknown young man, Jeff Bezos, who was already dreaming of his own business. “My office was next to his, and all day I heard this wonderful laughter,” Mackenzie later recalled about meeting her future husband.

The relationship between the young people developed rapidly. Three months after they met, they were already engaged, and after another three they got married. The wedding took place in 1993 in Florida. Mackenzie was 23 years old, Jeff was seven years older. A year later, the newlyweds moved to Seattle, where in 1994 the history of Amazon began, a company specializing in e-commerce that was then little understood. It is officially believed that its concept was invented by Jeff Bezos. However, a number of sources claim that the author of the idea was precisely his wife, who loved literature since childhood. Initially, the young husband created the online store virtually for her sake, deciding to make the book delivery service more accessible. The subsequent history of Amazon is well known. The business began to grow: in addition to books, the assortment included videocassettes, electronics, household appliances, clothing and shoes… As a result, the platform turned into the largest marketplace in the United States, and then on the entire planet. Well, Bezos eventually became a multi-billionaire, the owner of “factories, newspapers, ships,” the richest man in the world. During the period of self-isolation due to coronavirus, when many classic business models were in crisis, Amazon, on the contrary, increased its share in the global market. Today, the company's websites receive 4.8 billion unique visitors every month. According to Bloomberg forecasts, the company's shares will increase in price again in 2024, breaking their previous record. The headquarters of the online giant is still located in Seattle. However, for Russians this information has no practical significance. Amazon suspended delivery of its goods to Russia and Belarus in March 2022, after the start of the SVO and the imposition of sanctions by Western countries.

Since the founding of the company, MacKenzie Bezos has been actively involved in its development: she was its first accountant, helped in the warehouse, and even participated in the search for the name. The eminent husband always recognized the merits of his half, pointing out that at the dawn of the development of the business, she was actually his “right hand”. At the startup stage, the Amazon shared an office with a junior employee of the company, and the office kitchen was also located in the same room. The woman worked 12 hours a day in the accounting department, calmly withstanding the constant trips of workers back and forth to the microwave. And in the evening she had to go to the warehouse and pack orders. But everything was a joy, because my husband’s business grew by leaps and bounds.

As the campaign grew and children were added to the family, Mackenzie decided to retire and focus on family responsibilities. The Bezoses have been married for 25 years. During this time, they had three sons, and they adopted another child, a girl, in China.

In the period between the births of her children, the young woman managed to return to her lifelong passion – literature. Mackenzie Bezos's first book, The Trials of Luther Albright, which she worked on for a whole decade, was published in 2005. Critics greeted this literary debut favorably, and the following year “Amazon” already received its first award – the American Book Award. The success inspired Bezos’s wife, and eight years later, in 2013, she released her second novel, Traps. Interestingly, despite Amazon having its own publishing house, Mackenzie prefers to work with independent and more traditional publishers.

In September 2018, the Bezos celebrated their 25th anniversary of marriage in Miami. And less than six months later, on January 9, 2019, they announced their divorce. The reason for the separation of the couple, who, as many thought, lived in perfect harmony, was betrayal. Jeff Bezos' secret affair with actress and TV presenter Lauren Sanchez, who was also married at that time (she was the wife of Hollywood film agent Patrick Wysell), became known to the media. The Latina has long been considered a friend of the Bezos family. Evil tongues claimed that for years she had been developing a plan to take the billionaire away from his wife, but no one could provide evidence. And given that Bezos’s relationship with Sanchez continues to this day, few doubt the couple’s feelings. “We had a wonderful life as a married couple, and we have a wonderful future ahead of us as parents, friends, partners in various projects,” Jeff and Mackenzie said, commenting on their separation. “The names may be different, but we will remain family and true friends.”

After the divorce, Mackenzie decided to take her grandfather's surname Scott. She did not claim a stake in The Washington Post newspaper and the Blue Origin space company owned by Bezos. But she received 4% of his 16% stake in Amazon, allowing her ex-husband to vote on her stake. As a result of this division of property, Mackenzie became at that time the richest woman in the world with a fortune of $36 billion. The Amazon owner continued his dates with Sanchez, who also divorced her husband. In May 2023, information appeared that the couple was engaged, but the matter had not yet reached the wedding.

But Mackenzie Scott’s personal life after her divorce from Bezos moved much faster into a new official stage, although it ended unsuccessfully. In 2021, she married schoolteacher Dan Jewett, who taught chemistry and science. He was five years younger than Mackenzie. The couple met at Lakeside private school in Seattle, which our heroine's children attended. The woman wanted to connect her future destiny with a person far from the material world. But the story of “Reverse Cinderella” also did not work out. Already in September 2022, Mackenzie filed for divorce from her second husband. The couple did not disclose the reasons for the separation, but friends of the spouses told the press that the difference in lifestyle and income “proved to be insurmountable.” Even common values ​​did not help: having received a fortune after a divorce from her first husband, Mackenzie began to actively engage in charity work and her second husband actively supported her in this.

The woman even signed the Giving Pledge, joining the charity project of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, whose participants are required to donate at least half of their wealth to charity. Mackenzie Scott promised to give most of her income during her lifetime and in her will after death to good causes. “I have a disproportionate amount of money, and I will share it until the safe is empty,” she told reporters who asked about her future plans. In 2021 alone, it directed $4.3 billion to good causes through various grants.

Unlike other well-known wealthy philanthropists, Scott does not have a specific focus for her giving; she directs funds to a wide variety of organizations. For example, after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, it allocated $1.7 billion to organizations that fight for racial equality. She allocated another $1.6 billion to support African Americans and Latinos in educational NGOs, colleges and universities. Social organizations that provide food and groceries to those in need received another $1 billion from Bezos’s ex-wife. About $1.2 billion was sent by her to organizations that raise funds for charity. And this list is constantly growing, since Mackenzie, even after her second divorce, keeps her promise to empty her own safe.

The richest divorced women in Russia (according to Forbes)  

1. Lidiya Mikhailova, ex-wife of the founder of the Cherkizovo group, Igor Babaev. According to data for 2023, her fortune: $1.55 billion. In 2016, her husband transferred 80% of the shares of the company of the food giant Cherkizovo to her and her sons.

2. Elena Rybolovleva, ex-wife of Dmitry Rybolovlev, ex-shareholder of Uralkali (63%) and Silvinit (25%). Net worth for 2023: $600 million

3. Irina Abramovich, ex-wife of businessman Roman Abramovich. Net worth as of 2020: $300 million

Separately, it should be noted that Roman Abramovich left Irina for the daughter of a billionaire, Daria Zhukova, who lives in the UK, with whom, after ten years of marriage, he also divorced and paid her 1 billion euros in compensation. However, whether she can be classified as a rich Russian woman is an open question, since a few years after her divorce from Abramovich, she married the heir to the Greek shipbuilding empire Stavros Niarchos. Zhukova continues to be considered a Russian gallery owner, but has British citizenship.

4. Polina Yumasheva, ex-wife of entrepreneur Oleg Deripaska. Status for 2020 (some companies stopped publishing official reports after 2022): $300 million

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