Former Wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Will Give Away $18 Billion

By Richard Szabo

MacKenzie Bezos, the former partner of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has pledged to give away half of her $36 billion fortune on May 28.

The American novelist, 49, will donate $18 billion of her wealth to charity organizations.

The ex-wife of Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos made the announcement to support the Giving Pledge campaign, which was founded by fellow billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010.

The campaign encourages super-rich people to give away more than half their fortune during their lifetimes or in their wills to support charitable causes.

“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share,” Bezos said on the Giving Pledge website. “My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care but I won’t wait and I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”

After previously funding cancer research and championing anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution, Bezos is now encouraging the ultra-wealthy to dig deep for the campaign.

“There are lots of resources each of us can pull from our safes to share with others,” she said.

Bezos became the world’s third-richest woman after acquiring a 4 percent stake in Amazon worth about $36 billion when she and her former husband announced their divorce settlement on April 4, according to Forbes.

Forbes estimates her former husband’s net worth was $131 billion in 2019 and he was quick to support his ex-wife’s new philanthropic pursuit.

“MacKenzie is going to be amazing and thoughtful and effective at philanthropy, and I’m proud of her,” he said on Twitter. “Her letter is so beautiful. Go get ’em MacKenzie.”

The couple announced their divorce in January after being married for 25 years. Just one month later Jeff accused the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him with intimate photos showing him with his alleged mistress, Lauren Sanchez, who was reportedly having an affair with the Amazon CEO.

On April 4, MacKenzie promised to give Jeff 75 percent of her Amazon stock as part of their divorce agreement.

“Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reached out to us in kindness,” she wrote on Twitter. “Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75 percent of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies.”

Jeff said he looked forward to maintaining a friendship with Mackenzie years after the pair were wed in 1993 and had four children.

“MacKenzie most of all. I’m grateful for her support and for her kindness in this process and am very much looking forward to our new relationship as friends and co-parents,” he said on Twitter. “I’m so grateful to all my friends and family for reaching out with encouragement and love. It means more than you know.”

Some of the high-profile people listed as donors on the not-for-profit organization’s website include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson, former Chase Manhattan Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive David Rockefeller, and fashion entrepreneur Sara Blakely.

“The generosity of this group is a reflection of the inspiration we take from the many millions of people who work quietly and effectively to create a better world for others, often at great personal sacrifice,” Warren Buffett said in a statement.

Jeff Bezos has not yet indicated whether he would join the 204 people from 23 countries around the world who have already made a Giving Pledge.

Other Forbes top 10 billionaires who are being encouraged to join the Giving Pledge include French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Chairman and Chief Executive Bernard Arnault, Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, fashion retail mogul Amancio Ortega, and Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page.

The pledge that signatories make is “a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract,” according to the campaign website.