London – Mackenzie Bezos says that what made her fall in love with her future husband Jeff was his laugh, a full-throated roar like that of a James Bond villain that she would hear continually in the office of the New York hedge fund where they met.
It seems highly unlikely the world’s richest man is laughing quite so uproariously today after his personal life came crashing down in pieces, potentially jeopardising his Amazon business empire.
The money-hungry technology king with an estimated $137-billion fortune may soon lose his top billing on the world rich list in the mother of all divorce settlements.
Only hours after the online retail giant’s boss and his wife of 25 years announced that, as "cherished friends", they were divorcing "after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation", it was claimed that he had been having an eight-month affair with the wife of a friend and Hollywood business partner.
Lauren Sanchez, a 49-year-old helicopter pilot and ex-TV presenter, is with her talent manager husband Patrick Whitesell a neighbour of Mr and Mrs Bezos outside Seattle.
So much for the drippy announcement by the Bezoses, who have four children together, in which they said they would "continue our shared lives as friends".
The National Enquirer magazine predicted the marriage "is set to explode in all-out war" after it spent eight months investigating how the "hot-blooded" Bezos, 54, had "cheated" on his novelist wife.
It insisted that, contrary to their claims, neither of the spouses had been aware of the alleged infidelity when the affair started. According to the magazine, Bezos and Sanchez had told their other halves they were working together on a film project, to explain the amount of time they spent together.
Separately, it was claimed that Bezos and his wife, who married him before he started Amazon with her considerable help, had no pre-nuptial agreement.
Under the "communal property" laws of Washington state where they principally live and reportedly plan to file divorce papers without a pre-nup, all assets of a divorcing couple that were acquired during their marriage must be divided up fairly and equitably.
This doesn’t necessarily mean an even split, but it could make Mrs Bezos the world’s richest woman.
The Enquirer also accused the couple of indulging in "mile-high shenanigans", running pictures of them boarding his Gulfstream jet and disembarking later with Sanchez wearing far fewer clothes.
They met most frequently at her beachfront home in the LA neighbourhood of Santa Monica and, six days later, were together again for a late-night dinner date before being chauffeured to the Beverly Hills Hotel. There, he had reportedly booked a private bungalow despite having a home just a mile away.
Bezos is a digital pioneer and reportedly expressed his appreciation of his pneumatic mistress in dozens of raunchy texts and "erotic" selfies, including one which was reportedly too explicit to publish.
"The divorce is going to be ugly," said Bezos’s aunt, Kathy Jorgensen. "MacKenzie will take him to the cleaners she went through everything as he went up the ladder she deserves it. She knows the dirtiest secrets and he knows that."
Divorce lawyers predicted that for the good of the family’s long-term fortunes, MacKenzie Bezos will not want to weaken her errant husband’s control over Amazon by forcing him to sell his shares, thereby diluting their value.
However, any sense of goodwill and restraint might just go out the window once she learns of the scale of her husband’s alleged deception.
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