Last week, a Swiss court ordered a Russian billionaire to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife in what constitutes the divorce in world history. The 47 year old Dmitry Rybolovev made his fortune from potash mining and is known as the "fertilizer king." He is also the owner of the French soccer club AS Monaco.
According to court documents, Mr. Rybolovev must pay $4,509,375,184.80 to his now ex-wife, Elena Rybolovleva. In addition, the court also granted his ex-wife property in Gastaad, Switzerland worth $146 million and two other pieces of real estate in Geneva, Switzerland but no value was listed for those properties.
Obviously, this award sounds huge. However, keep in mind that Mr. Rybolovev was worth $12.8 billion in 2008 when the divorce proceedings began and will now be worth a paltry $8.8 billion, good for being 147th on the Forbes list of wealthiest people in the world. According to his divorce attorneys, the case will be appealed and the actual amount that his ex-wife will receive will likely be smaller than the court ordered amount by the time the appeals process has been exhausted or a settlement is reached.
From a legal perspective, it is interesting that the court viewed nearly all of Mr. Rybolovev's assets as part of the marital estate. He had previously transferred large portions of his fortune into trusts and offshore companies in an effort to protect it. This could make it difficult for his ex-wife to actually get her hands on funds as some countries where he has holdings do not have legal aid agreements with Switzerland and will not recognize the court's order. It will be very interesting to see how this case plays out in the long term and if Mr. Rybolovev's ex-wife is able to actually get her hands on much of his fortune.