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Please Don’t Tell Jeff Bezos What He’d Be Worth Today Had He Never Never Gotten Divorced…

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On April 4, 2019, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos stunned the world with the announcement that they were divorcing after 26 years of marriage. It was shocking because: a) Up to that point, Jeff and MacKenzie appeared to be an extremely happy and committed couple. And b) Jeff was by far the richest person in the world. Divorce at this echelon of wealth had not been fathomed. How do you split an enormous fortune that is made up almost entirely of stock holdings in a public company?

On the day of their divorce announcement, Jeff Bezos’ net worth was $150 billion. He was the world’s richest person. I know what you’re thinking. What about Elon? As crazy as it sounds considering it was just a few years ago, at the time, Elon Musk was “just” worth $20 billion. That wasn’t enough to make him one of the 100 richest people in the world.

Fast forward to the present, and there’s a strong argument that Jeff Bezos is once again the richest person in the world thanks to his $198 billion net worth. By most counts, Elon is still technically richer by $6 billion, with a $204 billion net worth. However, as you may have heard, a judge recently voided $56 billion worth of options awarded to Elon by Tesla’s board back in 2018. If we remove $56 billion from Elon’s fortune right now, it would reduce him to $148 billion. That dropped him to fourth place on the world’s richest list. Elon can (and will) appeal that judgment, which makes removing the $56 billion difficult to justify at this very moment. So, for now, he’s still richer on a technicality.

BUT! None of these technicalities and legal appeals would matter had Jeff Bezos simply never gotten divorced!

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

What Could Have Been

When he was still happily married to MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos owned 16% of Amazon. On the day of their divorce announcement, that stake was worth $150 billion.

Per the terms of their settlement, Jeff transferred a 4% stake in Amazon to MacKenzie. The settlement wasn’t announced until four months after their divorce announcement.

Jeff also began selling massive amounts of his Amazon holdings in 2020, mostly to fund his Blue Origin space program. In the last few years, he has sold roughly $30 billion worth of Amazon shares. Just last week, Jeff announced that he plans to sell 50 million shares sometime before January 2025. At today’s prices, that will generate another $9-ish billion.

Between the divorce settlement and his previous share sales, today, Jeff owns roughly 10% of Amazon.

In April 2019, Amazon’s market cap was $950 billion. Hence his then $150 billion net worth (16% of $950).

Today, Amazon’s market cap is right around at an all-time high of $1.8 trillion. Hence, his current $198 billion (10% of $1.8 trillion + $18 billion from share sales and other asset values).

Ok, enough beating around the bush. What would Jeff Bezos be worth today had he never divorced MacKenzie?

If they never divorced AND if he didn’t embark on a plan to sell tens of billions of shares, it’s very possible that today, Jeff would own 16% of Amazon. That 16% stake at a $1.8 trillion valuation would be worth…

$288 billion

Had he never gotten divorced, today, Jeff Bezos would be $83 billion richer than Elon Musk (assuming we have not removed the $56 billion). He would be $106 billion richer than Bernard Arnault. He would be $118 billion richer than Mark Zuckerberg. He would be $143 billion richer than Bill Gates.

Would that have made Jeff Bezos the richest person in modern history? Nope.

For over 80 years, John D. Rockefeller was the richest person in modern history. Rockefeller’s inflation-adjusted net worth was equal to $340 billion in today’s dollars. That record was broken on November 4, 2021, when Elon Musk’s actual, non-inflation-adjusted, true net worth briefly broke just above $340 billion.

If Amazon ever sees its market cap increase above $2.13 trillion, Jeff Bezos’ net worth would have been enough to make him the richest person in history. If we ever see Amazon’s market cap hit $6.25 trillion, that’s the point where Jeff Bezos could have been a trillionaire. FYI, Microsoft is currently the world’s most valuable company, with a market cap of $3 trillion. That’s an all-time high for Microsoft. Bill Gates once owned 40% of Microsoft’s shares. Had he held on to 30%, today he would be a trillionaire.





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