People

How Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos are treating their billion dollar fortunes very differently

Posted by
Hannah-Rose Yee
Published
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos

When MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos split, she received a billion dollar settlement and a stake in Amazon. Now, MacKenzie has revealed that she will be donating half of her fortune to charity.

When Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced their separation in January 2019, some 25 years after they were first married, certain media outlets had dollar signs in their eyes.

The tabloids tripped over themselves to count the beans, wondering just how greatly, MacKenzie was going to take Jeff ‘to the cleaners’. The reality, as we pointed out on Stylist, was that no one was taking anyone to the cleaners, and no one’s fortune was being gutted. Instead, their divorce settlement was a fair and adequate division of assets acquired over the course of a long marriage that lasted 25 years, during which time both parties were involved in the creation, launch and continuing success of Jeff’s company Amazon. 

That settlement, which went through earlier this year, ended up amounting to around $35 billion for MacKenzie, courtesy of a 4% stake in Amazon. (Jeff, for the record, is still worth $131 billion. No cleaners, see?) And today, MacKenzie announced that she would be donating half of her fortune to charity as part of the Giving Pledge founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, a movement that calls on the world’s richest people to devote their wealth to philanthropy.

You may also like

The problem with the media’s portrayal of the ‘world’s most expensive divorce’

“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” MacKenzie said in a statement. “In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care.”

 She continued: “But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos in 2003

MacKenzie, who is a bestselling author, also likened philanthropy to writing. “I once read about writing, something about not saving our best ideas for later chapters, about using them for now,” she said. The same is true of charity work. MacKenzie quoted Annie Dillard, who wrote: “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book.” MacKenzie won’t be doing that with her $37 billion settlement. She’ll be using it to make real change in the world.

Jeff shared MacKenzie’s pledge on Twitter, saying: “MacKenzie is going to be amazing and thoughtful and effective at philanthropy, and I’m proud of her. Her letter is so beautiful. Go get ‘em MacKenzie.” (Jeff’s 

By joining the Giving Pledge, MacKenzie just became one of the world’s biggest philanthropists, alongside Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. All of these names, as well as Michael Bloomberg, CNN founder Ted Turner and Sir Richard Branson are signatories of the Giving Pledge. 

Sign up to receive the latest Strong workouts, nutritious recipes and expert tips and you'll also get our 14-page Beginner's Guide To Strength Training.

Some names who haven’t signed the Giving Pledge? Google co-founder Larry Page and LVMH’s chief Bernard Arnault. And Jeff Bezos. 

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

Recommended by Hannah-Rose Yee

Life

A guide to volunteering at a charity no matter how much (or little) time you have

Only got an hour to spare, but still want to make a difference?

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published
Life

How to easily donate unused items to charity, from lipsticks to dresses

Got a house full of good-quality clutter? Here’s how to find it a new home

Posted by
Moya Lothian-McLean
Published
Life

Secondhand September: an insider’s guide to finding great clothes in charity shops

We've got all the know-how on finding hidden gems in charity shops.

Posted by
Rosalind Jana
Published
Life

Former homeless women share tips on the donations that really matter

Being homeless is made even worse for women the week of the month when their period comes.

Posted by
Hayley Spencer
Published
People

Doctor donates to charity every time she gets a hateful tweet

Online abuse repurposed

Posted by
Stylist Team
Published