Diana Richmond comments on “Silicon Valley’s Hottest Deal: The Pre-Nup” for Vanity Fair

March 2016

All happy families are alike, Tolstoy wrote, and each unhappy family is unhappy in its own unique way. This, of course, is particularly true among the global .001 percent. In 2015, oil baron Harold Hamm and billionaire hedge-fund eminence Ken Griffin neatly articulated the point. Hamm, who never signed a pre-nuptial agreement with his wife, watched as his ex took him to the cleaners in the form of a protracted media maelstrom and a nearly three-comma windfall. Griffin, who got his wife to sign a pre-nup on the eve of their wedding as she rushed to their rehearsal dinner, got away with settling out of divorce court, where they were battling over the agreement, which promised her a lump-sum payment of $22.5 million, plus $1 million in cash payments for every year of their 11-year marriage. Hamm is now worth about $6 billion, according to Forbes. Griffin, who recently spent $300 million on various bachelor pads, has a fortune estimated at a billion dollars more—roughly the difference in their divorce settlements. But who’s keeping score, right?

Divorce is one of the few things that billionaires have in common with the rest of us. As such, pre-nups have long been the standard along Park Avenue and Gin Lane, and in Holmby Hills. Now Silicon Valley, where tens of billions of dollars in wealth has been created in just the last decade, is catching up. Marriage itself once seemed far off for the largely millennial set of founders and engineers who struck gold, but now many are maturing alongside their companies.