The biggest divorce settlement of all time was paid by Rupert Murdoch when he divorced his wife in 1999. That year, he paid $1.7 billion – which is about $2.8 billion in today’s money. Over the years, people have come close to breaking that record, but you get the feeling that it might stand the test of time. That being said, divorce settlements that reach 10 figures are still pretty rare. Most wealthy spouses sign prenups and take other steps to protect their wealth, ensuring that they will never have to hand over the equivalent of a small country’s GDP. Recently, a man called Israel Englander agreed to pay the sum of $1 billion to his ex in a divorce settlement – and it’s quite the story.
Who is Israel Englander?
Israel “Izzy” Englander is an American investor and hedge fund manager. He founded the hedge fund Millennium Management in 1989 alongside Ronald Shear. He eventually grew $35 million to over $39 billion in 2019. Raised in Brooklyn, he began trading stocks in high school. After graduating, he interned at the New York Stock Exchange. Obtaining his BS in finance from New York University, he went on to work for a prominent Wall Street firm.
Ronald Shear, his business partner, left Millennium Management shortly after its founding due to its rocky start. But Englander turned it into an empire. At some point, he married his wife Cheryl and had three children. His real estate assets include a $71.3-million duplex on New York’s Park Avenue, a house in Atlantic Beach, and a $20-million apartment in Paris. He was the highest-paid hedge fund manager in 2020, with earnings of $3.8 billion.
Numerous reports state that Cheryl eventually left Israel for another woman, and this caused the divorce. The marriage lasted for more than 40 years, and Cheryl later sued her former husband in a civil lawsuit for becoming “enraged” about her affair. The affair is wrapped up in the world of fine art, as Cheryl’s lover is none other than famed Swiss gallerist Dominique Levy. Englander and Cheryl apparently gathered up quite a collection of fine art during their marriage – and these art pieces probably played a central role in their divorce negotiations. Both women claim that Israel terrorized them both, aiming to intimidate them out of pursuing the 10-figure settlement. He was also accused of making his former wife sign a number of trust agreements and a postnuptial agreement – apparently under duress. In any case, the divorce was settled privately out of court, and the lawsuit was withdrawn.
Still, Israel apparently vowed to “destroy” the Swiss gallerist’s business – a threat that should not be taken lightly given Englander’s resources and influence. Whatever the case may be, Cheryl and her lover now have more than enough money to enjoy life without having to work again, so it is essentially a moot point. On the other hand, Englander earns billions each year, so it is unlikely that he will be too troubled by the 10-figure settlement.