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All you need to know about Jeff Bezos' $150 billion divorce


Now we have a better sense of how the breakup will affect Amazon, its employees and its customers.

Jeff Bezos' divorce announcement in January started with a seemingly heartfelt and straightforward tweet from the couple and soon after spiraled into allegations of blackmail over nude photos and a private investigation into leaked texts.

Apparently this is what it looks like when the world's richest person gets divorced.


The split, which was finalized in early April, has transformed Bezos' public persona from a privacy-seeking tech geek to a supermarket tabloid regular, with gossip pages dishing on the couple's massive fortune of roughly $150 billion and on Bezos' steamy texts to his new girlfriend.

Beyond the world of TMZ and Page Six, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos' divorce will have a big impact on Amazon's ownership and create new challenges for the company. And though it's unlikely, that turbulence could even harm consumers by slowing Amazon's rapid pace of growth and innovation.

The divorce had been expected to result in one of the biggest and most notable settlements in history. It ultimately lived up to that hype.


"Jeff remains very much focused on and engaged in Amazon," company spokesman Drew Herdener said in January.

Here's what you need to know about the divorce and what effects it may have.

The split
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos jointly announced their divorce via Twitter on Jan. 9, saying they decided to split "after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation." The message said they plan to remain friends. The couple married 25 years ago, the year before Bezos founded Amazon.



What wasn't mentioned in that tweet was that the National Enquirer tabloid had reached out to Bezos two days earlier to ask him for comment on a story it planned to run about Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Hours after the divorce announcement, the Enquirer reported that Bezos has been dating Sanchez, the wife of WME talent agent Patrick Whitesell. It also published a series of texts Bezos sent Sanchez, including: "I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon." Sanchez and Whitesell are separated, according to several news reports.

Michael Sanchez, Lauren's brother and a longtime source for the Enquirer, leaked those texts to the publication, according to reports by both the Journal and the Daily Beast. He hasn't admitted that he was the Enquirer's source.


Jeff Bezos is Amazon's founder, CEO, chairman and top shareholder. MacKenzie Bezos is a novelist who helped Amazon grow during its early years but hasn't been significantly involved in the company since and has a much lower profile than her husband. The couple has four children.

Lauren Sanchez is a former TV reporter who founded an aerial film production company called Black Ops Aviation. She didn't respond to a request for comment.

The settlement
In early April, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced, via Twitter, a divorce settlement in which MacKenzie will receive 25% of Jeff Bezos' stake in Amazon. She's expected to be worth about $35 billion and will become one of Amazon's four biggest shareholders.


MacKenzie Bezos agreed to hand over voting control of her shares to Jeff Bezos and gave up her stakes in the Blue Origin rocket company and in The Washington Post.


The Medium post
Things got strange a month after the divorce announcement when Bezos published a lengthy Medium post alleging an apparent blackmail plot by the Enquirer. He said the publication was threatening to release nude photos of him unless he ended a private investigation into how the tabloid got a hold of his text messages to Sanchez. He said the publication also called for him to say publicly he found no proof that the Enquirer's reporting was politically motivated; President Donald Trump has had an ongoing feud with Bezos and has close connections to the Enquirer.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Bezos said in the post.


Bezos was still going through an increasingly messy and public divorce, but his revelation of the Enquirer's apparent extortion won the billionaire a wave of positive coverage.

American Media Inc., the Enquirer's publisher, said it would investigate Bezos' claims.

On March 30, the plot thickened when Gavin de Becker, a private investigator hired by Bezos, alleged in a post on The Daily Beast that Saudi Arabia had hacked the Amazon CEO's phone and accessed private information. The alleged hack was linked to coverage in The Washington Post, of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi reporter who wrote for paper. Bezos owns The Post.

The Saudi embassy didn't respond to a request for comment.

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