Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos will retain control of the online retail giant despite the prospect of a $68.5 billion (£53 billion) divorce.
Sources close to the world’s richest man, who has a fortune valued at $137 billion, last night told The Mail on Sunday that the future of Amazon, of which he owns 16 per cent, is ‘safe’.
‘People have been speculating that because of his divorce, his wife will get half his shares and that will put the future of the company in jeopardy,’ a source close to 55-year-old Bezos said.
‘But this was all worked out last year. Amazon is not in danger. The divorce settlement is far further along than anyone knows.
‘Both Jeff and his wife are smart people. He is keeping control of Amazon.’
Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos will retain control of the online retail giant despite the prospect of a $68.5 billion (£53 billion) divorce from MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage
Bezos and MacKenzie, his wife of 25 years, announced on Twitter last week that they were parting ‘as cherished friends’ and divorcing ‘after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation’.
But within hours it emerged that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a 49-year- old former TV anchor who split from her husband, the Hollywood talent agent Patrick Whitesell, last autumn.
The Bezos divorce is likely to be the biggest in history. The couple, who married in 1993 shortly before he founded Amazon, are understood to have no pre-nuptial agreement, entitling her to half of his fortune.
The couple have a string of properties, including a £25 million home in Washington State, a £20 million home in Beverly Hills and a £19 million converted museum in Washington DC, along with 400,000 acres of land.
However, the majority of his wealth lies in his Amazon shares and there were fears he might have to sell some of his stake, potentially affecting the value of the online giant.
Lauren Sanchez, the woman at the center of Jeff Bezos' divorce
But the source said: ‘The majority of Jeff’s wealth is tied up in Amazon shares. He will retain control of the company and will remain the majority shareholder.
‘The deal is still being worked out because there are so many complex assets, but there is no danger of him losing his majority stake in Amazon. That has been agreed.’
Meanwhile, a close friend of Ms Sanchez insisted that she and Bezos are ‘madly in love’ and plan to marry as soon as their respective divorces are finalised.
The US tabloid The National Enquirer last week claimed that Bezos ‘cheated’ on his 46-year-old wife, with whom he has four children, by starting his relationship with Ms Sanchez before they had formally split. They also published a series of passionate text messages sent by the billionaire to Ms Sanchez.
But pals of the former TV presenter said the allegation was ‘totally unfair and untrue’, adding: ‘Most of what has been written about Lauren and Jeff’s relationship is not true.
‘They both split from their respective partners in the autumn. Their relationship did not start until their marriages had ended.
‘They knew each other before and there were text messages between them, but text messages do not mean an affair. There was nothing seedy about how this relationship started and there’s nothing sleazy about it now.
‘Jeff and Lauren are deeply in love and committed to each other. They are planning their future together.’
Jeff Bezos paid $23 million for the former Textile Museum in Kalorama, Washington D.C., in 2016. The 27,000-square-feet home was already the biggest in the city, but the Amazon founder and Washington Post owner dropped an additional $12 million in 2017 to expand and renovate it
Another friend said: ‘People are shocked because the (divorce) news only became public this week, but both couples dealt with this last year.’
The friend said that Mr Whitesell and Ms Sanchez have a so-called ‘bird-nesting’ arrangement with their children remaining in the family home while estranged parents take it in turns to live there. Insiders claimed Ms Sanchez, a former host of the hit US shows So You Think You Can Dance? and Extra, ‘fought’ to save her marriage to Mr Whitesell, the chief executive of talent agency William Morris Endeavor, which represents stars including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale.
The pair wed in 2005 and have two young children. ‘She fought to save her marriage for the sake of her children but sadly it was not to be. But the allegations that she cheated on her husband are simply not true,’ the source said.
Mr and Mrs Bezos, Ms Sanchez and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.