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World's richest man could lose $100 billion in divorce

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WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos and writer MacKenzie Bezos attend the Amazon Studios Oscar Celebration at Delilah on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos and writer MacKenzie Bezos attend the Amazon Studios Oscar Celebration at Delilah on February 26, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos could lose almost US$75 billion (AU$104 billion) through his divorce announced overnight.

Such a hit would see him lose the current crown of world’s wealthiest person.

Overnight Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced on social media that their marriage would end. They had already been through a trial separation in private.

The exact financial impact on the entrepreneur would depend on any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements signed between the couple, who met and married in the early 1990s before Amazon was founded.

MacKenzie Bezos performed accounting for Amazon in the first year of its existence, but reportedly does not hold any shares directly.

Bezos is worth around US$137 billion (AU$190 billion), according to Fortune, and Washington state’s communal property laws mean any assets accumulated during marriage is considered to be owned by both members of the couple.

The communal property laws do not necessarily mean a 50-50 split and also complicating the situation is that any division of wealth may happen after money is set aside for the couple’s four children.

Even in the most dramatic scenario where Bezos loses half his worth, Fortune reports he would still rank fourth on Bloomberg’s list of world’s wealthiest people.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos met in New York City, engaged after three months and married three months after that, according to Vogue. Last April, Bezos credited his wife’s support in founding and running Amazon.

“When you have loving and supportive people in your life, like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks,” he said at the time in Berlin, Germany.

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