The Most Egregiously Expensive Divorces In Hollywood History

There's no denying that the public has developed a fascination with the divorces of celebrities. There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon, one of which stems from the outsized egos and personalities involved, inevitably leading to more juicy drama than any soap opera could possibly provide. Over the years, in fact, there have been some truly nasty celeb divorces that provided rich fodder for tabloids. For example, the end of Johhny Depp's tumultuous marriage to Amber Heard, and the allegations and legal battles that followed, surely generated more headlines than all of their movies combined. Or how about the still-ongoing battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? In terms of sheer venom, those two are kind of tough to top.

Another reason why people are so interested in celebrity divorces is the vast sums of money on the table. Money, in fact, usually seems to be the sticking point when celebrities and their future ex-spouses head to court. The rule of thumb tends to be, the bigger the star, the higher the payout. When estranged spouses lawyer up, haggling over who gets how much can sometimes take years, with legal fees eating up a substantial chunk of the cash they're fighting over.

With that in mind, read on for a look into the most egregiously expensive divorces in Hollywood history.

Mel Gibson's divorce from Robyn Moore cost him half his $850M fortune

Mel Gibson met wife Robyn Moore in Australia back in the late 1970s, when she was a dental nurse and he was an aspiring actor who'd just shot his star-making first movie, "Mad Max." The couple had been married for nearly 30 years and had seven children when she filed for divorce in 2009. There was no prenuptial agreement. 

When the divorce was finalized in 2011, California's community property laws resulted in Moore receiving half of Gibson's fortune — which, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, was estimated at the time at a jaw-dropping $850 million. This included such assets as $100 million in real estate, a $15-million island in Fiji, and in excess of $600 million that Gibson had earned from his 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ." In addition, Moore was also entitled to receive half of every penny that Gibson earned in the future. Because of the money at stake, this was reported to be the most costly celebrity divorce payout of all time.

In the midst of his marital breakup, in 2007 Gibson began a tumultuous relationship with Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva, who gave birth to their daughter in October 2009 — six months after Moore filed for divorce. When that romance dramatically crashed and burned, Gibson was ordered to pay Grigorieva a settlement of $750,000 — a drop in the bucket compared to what he'd been forced to shell out in his divorce.

Arnold Schwarzenegger paid ex-wife Maria Shriver millions after impregnating their housekeeper

Arnold Schwarzenegger married Maria Shriver in 1986, raising four children. The marriage crumbled in 2011 after the Los Angeles Times reported that the "Terminator" star and two-term California governor had fathered a son by the family's housekeeper, Mildred Baena, more than a decade earlier. "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I have apologized to Maria, my children, and my family. I am truly sorry." Shriver filed for divorce soon after.

Because the couple had no prenup, California divorce law dictated that Shriver would receive half the couple's assets. At the time of the split, however, RadarOnline reported that Schwarzenegger was mulling over whether to give her even more. "He wants to do the right thing, and go above and beyond what is required of him under the law," a source told the outlet, estimating the former bodybuilding champ's net worth at between $500 and $750 million (although other sources have estimated his fortune to be somewhere in the $300-$400 million range). 

A full decade later, the divorce was finalized in 2021. Although details about the financial aspects of the settlement weren't made public, the divorce was reportedly amicable, with their assets equally divided. "People will remember my successes and they will also remember my failures," Schwarzenegger lamented of his divorce in the 2023 docuseries "Arnold," as reported by People. "This is a major failure."

Neil Diamond reportedly lost $150M in his divorce, but said the amount had been exaggerated

Known for ear-worm pop songs such as "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Sweet Caroline," Neil Diamond churned out a lot of hits, in addition to being a top songwriter who penned chart-toppers for other artists (The Monkees' "I'm a Believer," for example). Along with all that success came a lot of money. That became a factor when he and second wife, Marcia Murphey, divorced in 1995. That divorce continues to pop up on lists of the most costly of all time, with Forbes reporting that Diamond shelled out a whopping $150 million to his ex-wife.

Years later, Diamond insisted that number had been inflated by the media. "It wasn't true," he told the Daily Mail in 2014, denying the settlement was $150 million — but not revealing the actual amount. When asked whether Murphey was pleased with what she'd received, Diamond responded, "She was. She got enough to live on for the rest of her life." Was that generous payout due to Diamond's guilt about his role in the collapse of the marriage? "Somewhat," he admitted. "It's true. I did feel bad."

He remarried in 2012, tying the knot with Katie McNeil when she was 42 and he was 71. Looking back at his second marriage, Diamond said he no longer felt the guilt he did at the time. "I don't have many feelings about my divorce now because it was 20 years ago," he explained.

Garth Brooks paid $125M to end his first marriage

These days, Garth Brooks is happily married to fellow country music star Trisha Yearwood, tying the knot back in 2005. Prior to that, Brooks was married to his first wife, Sandy Mahl, whom he divorced in 2000 after 14 years of marriage. In the documentary "Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On," Mahl blamed Brooks' meteoric rise as the reason their relationship crumbled. "He'd be gone eight to 10 weeks at a time. He'd come home, and there would be number-one parties, or shows, or CMAs, or ACMs, American Music Awards, so it was constantly going," she said, as reported by Hello! "But we both grew apart really, really quickly." 

Brooks has also acknowledged his role in the divorce, taking full responsibility for the way he behaved during his marriage. "I sucked at being a husband, I was horrible at it," he confessed during a panel discussion held by Billboard

The exes have remained friendly over the years, and the divorce was amicable. It was also costly, with Brooks reportedly paying Mahl $125 million. When it comes to money, though, Brooks had come to realize that it's simply not a motivating factor for him. "There are two points that are not about money: the beginning and the end," he told Rolling Stone. "In the beginning, there is no money, and if you make it to this outer end where I am now, money is so much now it doesn't matter."

Steven Spielberg paid first wife Amy Irving $100M in divorce settlement

Amy Irving auditioned for the "Star Wars" role of Princess Leia, which ultimately went to the late Carrie Fisher. Director George Lucas, however, thought she'd be a perfect match for his friend, fellow director Steven Spielberg, and introduced the two. They began dating, eventually having a child together — their son, Max — before getting married in 1985.

Irving, however, hadn't been prepared for the demands that would be placed on her as Spielberg climbed the ladder to become arguably the most successful director in Hollywood history. "During my marriage to Steven, I felt like a politician's wife," she told the Los Angeles Times in a 1994 interview. "There were certain things expected of me that definitely weren't me. One of my problems is that I'm very honest and direct. You pay a price for that. But then I behaved myself and I paid a price too."

When they divorced in 1989, the four years of their marriage became the costliest of his life when he was forced to pay her a reported $100 million — even though Irving had signed a prenuptial agreement. According to Forbes, the prenup was on a scrap of paper the two had written up themselves and signed. In divorce court, Irving's lawyer contended the prenup was invalid because she didn't have legal representation when she'd signed it. The judge agreed, ruling she was entitled to half of Spielberg's $200 million fortune.

Dr. Dre shelled out $100M in divorce settlement with ex Nicole Young

Dr. Dre (whose real name is Andre Romell Young) earned some serious money as a rapper, but that was small potatoes compared to what he raked in when he sold his Beats headphone empire to Apple for a reported $3 billion in 2014. In 2020, his wife of more than 20 years, Nicole Young, filed for divorce. Not only was there no prenup, but TMZ reported that her divorce filing contained allegations of her husband's physical and emotional abuse, accusing him of holding a gun to her head, and, on another occasion, slamming her against a wall and lifting her off the floor by her neck. "Andre has verbally and emotionally decimated my personhood to the extent that I currently suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome," she claimed, via legal documents obtained by People. Dre denied all her allegations.

The following year, the divorce was finalized, with Dre reportedly paying his ex $100 million — $50 million immediately, with the remaining $50 million to be paid out a year later. She was ordered to vacate the couple's mansion in Malibu and to cover the costs of her own legal bills related to the divorce. 

The rapper/mogul may have taken a financial hit in the divorce, but he was able to hang on to the bulk of his net worth, which had been estimated at $820 million.

Madonna had to pay big bucks to ex Guy Ritchie

In 2000, Madonna married British movie director Guy Ritchie, tying the knot in a ceremony held in Scotland — just a few months after she'd given birth to their son, Rocco. Later, the couple adopted another son, David. The marriage didn't last, and they announced they were divorcing in October 2008. "It was unraveling throughout the last year," a source told People at the time. "They were living separate lives and coming together every now and then for the cameras."

Just two months later, the divorce was finalized. Madonna's rep, Liz Rosenberg, told Reuters that Madonna wound up paying Ritchie a sum between £50 million and £60 million ($76 million and $92 million in U.S. currency). According to Rosenberg, that also included their estate in the British countryside, Ashcombe, estimated to be worth approximately £20 million ($30 million). Their combined net worth was said to be $525 million, although most of those millions were Madonna's. 

In a 2012 interview with Newsweek, she made some rare comments about what had gone wrong. "Because when you start off, everything's great and lovely, and the person you've married is flawless, and you're flawless," she said. "Then time goes by, and you share a life, you have children, and there are cracks in the veneer. It's not as romantic as it used to be. You think, 'This isn't what I thought it was going to be,' and 'How much am I willing to sacrifice?'"

Melissa Mathison was awarded $90M in her divorce from Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford married screenwriter Melissa Mathison (who died in 2015 at age 65) in 1983. At the time, he was one of Hollywood's hottest young actors, thanks to the success of the recently released "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and the "Star Wars" trilogy. Mathison was something of a Hollywood heavyweight herself, having written the screenplays for such big-screen hits as "The Black Stallion," and "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial."

In 2000, Ford and Mathison separated. "We have been living apart for the past month. We sincerely hope that we can work out our differences," the couple said in a statement via Ford's agent, Patricia McQueeney, with ABC News. The couple reportedly reconciled, but only briefly; in August 2001, Mathison filed for legal separation, asking for joint custody of the couple's two children. As McQueeney told ABC News, "The couple is very friendly and everything is very amicable."

By the time the divorce was finalized in 2004, Ford had already moved on and had been dating his future second wife, Calista Flockhart, since 2002. When the dust had settled, Ford reportedly paid his ex-wife $90 million to walk away from their marriage. Ford and Flockhart tied the knot in 2010.

Kevin Costner's divorce from Cindy Silva left him $80M poorer

In May 2023, Kevin Costner began making headlines when his second wife, Christine Baumgartner, filed for divorce; further news was generated as the split grew increasingly contentious, particularly when she challenged their prenup. If Costner appeared to be protective of his money, there's a good reason: his previous divorce, from his first wife Cindy Silva, was one of Hollywood's most expensive. As People reported, Silva filed for divorce in 1994, after reportedly becoming increasingly unhappy watching her husband in big-screen love scenes with Hollywood starlets — not to mention various rumors of offscreen infidelity. "Cindy doesn't like these sexy roles, and she's given me an ultimatum," Costner reportedly told his friend, architect John McInnes, who spoke with People.

"After 16 years together, we are ending our marriage," Silva said in a statement. "We have amicably resolved all issues regarding our children and financial affairs and a full marital settlement has been reached." The outlet reported that that settlement resulted in Costner paying his ex-wife a whopping $80 million.

While Costner's second divorce (as of August 2023) is far from settled, there's also a lot more money at stake than there was with his first marital split; according to Celebrity Net Worth, by 2023 the "Yellowstone" star's net worth had grown to a hefty $250 million. 

Kenny Rogers took a hit with his $60M divorce settlement

Kenny Rogers, who died at age 81 in 2020, was a firm believer in marriage — obvious by the fact that he walked down the aisle five different times. The country singer's first marriage, when he was just 20, was over in two years. "Yet that's when I realized I loved being married so I got married again, almost immediately. That only lasted three years because we finally realized, 'This isn't right' — and in the end, it was boring for me and for her," Rogers told the Independent. He then married again, this time remaining wed for 12 years. "In fact, the first nine years were as good as it gets, and it was only the last few that got ugly," he said, admitting his non-stop touring led to divorce.

In 1977, Rogers wed for the fourth time, to Marianne Gordon. Like his first three, this marriage also didn't last, with Gordon filing for divorce in 1993. When the divorce was finalized, Rogers paid Gordon $60 million — and had no regrets whatsoever. "She deserves every penny," he said, telling the Independent that he was deeply in debt and "didn't have a dime" when they'd met, but she'd stuck by him anyway.

After Rogers' death, Gordon had fond recollections of their marriage. "The end of a relationship like that can be devastating, but there were so many fabulous memories. I like to think about those," Gordon told Closer Weekly.

Phil Collins' divorce settlement with ex-wife Orianne Cevey set a record

Rock star Phil Collins had been married twice before when he wed Orianne Cevey in 1999, reportedly moving up the wedding date by four months so his very-ill mother would be able to attend. The couple split up in 2006, and divorced in 2008. Collins wound up paying her just under $47 million, which was reported to be Britain's costliest celebrity divorce ever.

Yet the story didn't end there. Eight years later, the couple reconciled. "Yes, we are back together!" Collins told People in 2016. That reunion didn't last; in 2020, Collins reportedly kicked her out of his Miami home after learning that she'd secretly married a younger man in Las Vegas. When she refused to leave, he sued. She eventually left, but retaliated by selling off his gold records. When Collins sold that home for $40 million, she sued him, claiming he'd made a verbal promise to give her the house.

Her suit was ultimately dismissed, with the judge in the case pointing out that she'd violated 10 distinct court orders (and had reportedly lied under oath). "I'm done with this," the judge said, according to a court transcript obtained by Page Six. "You can go ahead and prepare the order of dismissal ... I feel comfortable that enough is enough."

Paul McCartney paid nearly $50M to escape his tumultuous marriage with Heather Mills — but that was a tiny fraction of what she wanted

Paul McCartney had made it no secret that wife Linda Eastman McCartney was the love of his life until her 1998 death from breast cancer at age 56. In 2002, McCartney remarried Heather Mills, a model who'd become an advocate for amputees after losing her leg in a 1993 accident. In 2003, the couple welcomed a daughter, Beatrice. 

By 2006, it was all over. "Having tried exceptionally hard to make our relationship work given the daily pressures surrounding us, it is with sadness that we have decided to go our separate ways," the two said in a joint statement, via The Guardian. The divorce became international news, with Mills initially seeking a $250 million settlement (McCartney's net worth hasn't been confirmed, but has been estimated at $1.2 billion). 

When the divorce was finalized, Mills received far less than she had asked for, the still-substantial sum of nearly $50 million (with approximately $15 million in assets she already held, in addition to a lump-sum payment of $33 million). "I'm so glad it's over," Mills told reporters after the divorce had been finalized, as reported by The Guardian. "It was an incredible result in the end to secure mine and Beatrice's future and all the charities I plan on helping."

James Cameron paid $50M to Linda Hamilton in their divorce settlement

James Cameron has directed three of the top four highest-grossing films in Hollywood history, with "Titanic," "Avatar" and its sequel, "Avatar: The Way of Water," raking in a collective $7.5 billion. In the midst of all that moviemaking, Cameron has also been married five times, with four of those unions ending in divorce. 

It was his fourth marriage, to Linda Hamilton — whom he directed in "Terminator" and its sequel, "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" — that became his most costly. As Forbes reported, Cameron paid Hamilton $50 million in their 1999 divorce settlement after less than two years of marriage.

According to Hamilton, she'd never really felt their marriage made sense. "That relationship was a mystery to all of us — even Jim and myself — because we are terribly mismatched," she told the New York Times. "I used to say we fit together like a puzzle: Everywhere he's convex, I'm concave." Her theory was that Cameron fell in love with her "Terminator" character, Sarah Connor, not her, something that Cameron didn't disagree with. "I fell in love with her initially because I thought she was a little closer to Sarah than she actually is," he said, "but that doesn't mean that much once you get to know somebody." While the divorce was painful, Hamilton learned a valuable lesson from the breakup. "I would never, ever put that much energy again into something that is not working," she said.

Michael Douglas lost $45M in his divorce from ex-wife Diandra

Michael Douglas married Catherine-Zeta Jones in 2000, a Hollywood union that has endured for more than two decades despite the couple's 25-year age difference.

Prior to that, Douglas was married to Diandra Luker, tying the knot in 1977 until they split up in 1995. The divorce was finalized in 2000, shortly before Douglas wed Zeta-Jones, with the actor reportedly paying Luker a $45 million settlement. In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Douglas admitted that he and Luker should have ended their marriage a decade earlier than they did. "It took me too long to realize that if you go to a marriage counselor to resolve problems, it's in his interest to keep the marriage going," Douglas explained. "Because if I end the marriage he's got no business. I think Diandra would probably say the same thing. That's the only clear regret that I have."

Ten years after the divorce was finalized, Luker took her ex-husband to court, suing him for half his salary when he reprised the role of Gordon Gekko in the 2010 sequel to 1987's "Wall Street," "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." She contended that the terms of the divorce settlement entitled her to 50% of Douglas' earnings for sequels to films he'd made while they were married. The judge in the case, however, disagreed and tossed her suit.