Billionaire John Paulson, who made $20B on 2008 housing crash, to divorce wife without prenup


Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson is divorcing his wife, Jenny, after more than 20 years of marriage, in what is anticipated to be one of the costliest and most hotly contested breakups of all time.

Paulson, 65, who made his fortune when he bet against the American housing market ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, is said to have no prenuptial agreement, which could have protected his assets in the event of a divorce.

According to some conservative estimates, Paulson has a net worth of more than $4.8billion, along with an impressive real estate portfolio, which includes multimillion-dollar properties in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Aspen, Colorado.

As Page Six first reported, Paulson cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the cause of his split from 50-year-old Jenny Paulson, according to documents filed in Suffolk County Court on Monday.

Under New York’s divorce laws, courts divide only marital property, and spouses gets to keep their separate property. Marital property is defined as all property acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage, regardless of who bought it.

When a couple divorces in New York, judges split property equitably – or fairly – which can result in a 50/50 property division, but not always.  

'Clash of the titans': Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and wife Jenny are divorcing after more than 20 years of marriage, setting the stage for an epic legal showdown

‘Clash of the titans’: Hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and wife Jenny are divorcing after more than 20 years of marriage, setting the stage for an epic legal showdown 

Jenny and John Paulson have two teenage daughters, Giselle and Danielle (pictured as a family)

Jenny and John Paulson have two teenage daughters, Giselle and Danielle (pictured as a family)

Jenny and John Paulson have two teenage daughters, Giselle and Danielle (pictured as a family) 

John and Jenny Paulson have two teenage daughters, Giselle and Danielle.  

One anonymous source was quoted by the paper as describing the impending legal showdown between the former power couple as ‘the clash of the titans,’ led by some of New York’s most prominent divorce lawyers. 

The financier has retained attorney William Zabel, who has represented a string of rich and famous clients, including George Soros an Howard Stern.

‘John has deep respect for Jenny and will continue to support all that is best for the health and happiness of the family,’ Zabel said in a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Jenny Paulson is said to be in talks with Robert Cohen, who had shepherded an equally impressive lineup of celebrities, among them Ivana Trump, Uma Thurman and Michael Bloomberg, through their high-profile divorces.

Cohen was most recently working with Melinda Gates on her divorce from billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, which was announced earlier this year. 

The Paulsons have multibillionaire-dollar real estate portfolio, including this elegant $14.7million townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side

The Paulsons have multibillionaire-dollar real estate portfolio, including this elegant $14.7million townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side

The Paulsons have multibillionaire-dollar real estate portfolio, including this elegant $14.7million townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side 

The Paulsons also own a sprawling estate in Southampton, New York, called Old Tress, which was obtained for an eye-popping $41million in 2008

The Paulsons also own a sprawling estate in Southampton, New York, called Old Tress, which was obtained for an eye-popping $41million in 2008

The Paulsons also own a sprawling estate in Southampton, New York, called Old Tress, which was obtained for an eye-popping $41million in 2008

Paulson bought an apartment in Olympic Tower in Midtown, closer to the offices of his hedge fund, for $2.9million in 2010

Paulson bought an apartment in Olympic Tower in Midtown, closer to the offices of his hedge fund, for $2.9million in 2010

Paulson bought an apartment in Olympic Tower in Midtown, closer to the offices of his hedge fund, for $2.9million in 2010

Paulson married Jenny, his former assistant, in 2000. She is a Romanian immigrant

Paulson married Jenny, his former assistant, in 2000. She is a Romanian immigrant

Paulson married Jenny, his former assistant, in 2000. She is a Romanian immigrant 

The unnamed source told Page Six that the Paulsons have been living separate lives for the past 15 years, despite sharing a 28,000-square-foot townhouse on East 86th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which they purchased for $14.7million in 2004.

JOHN AND JENNY PAULSON’S ASSETS:

Billionaire hedge fund boss John Paulson has an estimated net worth of $4.8million, along with a vast multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio, which includes:

  • Upper East Side townhouse on East 86th Street, which was bought for $14.7million in 2004
  • Estate called Old Trees in Southampton New York, obtained for $41million in 2008
  • Luxury 95-acre Hala Ranch in Aspen, Colorado, worth $49million
  • Two-bedroom luxury condominium in Olympic Tower in Midtown Manhattan, purchased for $2.9million in 2010 
  • Investments in Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and St Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico

The Paulsons also own a sprawling estate in Southampton, New York, called Old Tress, which was obtained for an eye-popping $41million in 2008, and a luxury  95-acre property called the Hala Ranch in Aspen worth $49million.

The ranch was built in 1991 and was originally purchased by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan for $135million. The estate has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the most expensive home in the United States. 

Paulson also bought an apartment in Midtown, closer to the offices of his hedge fund, for $2.9million in 2010.

The two-bedroom, 1,797-square-foot luxury condo is on the 26th floor of Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue, though it is not clear if Paulson himself uses the property. 

He also has major stakes in luxury resorts in Puerto Rico, including Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, according to Forbes. 

Paulson was born in Queens, New York and attended school in the Whitestone neighborhood.

He graduated from NYU and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. In 1994, he founded his own hedge fund called Paulson & Co.

He spent his 30s as a hotshot bachelor, living in a loft in SoHo in downtown Manhattan, rubbing elbows with celebrities and models.  

According to the book The Greatest Trade Ever, by Gregory Zuckerman, Paulson first met Jenny Zaharia in the late 1990s when she delivered lunch to his offices. He then hired the Romanian national as his assistant, reported Bloomberg. 

As he approached his mid-40s, John began casting about for a wife and set his sights on Jenny, who did not smoke or drink, and had a ‘cheerful’ personality. 

John was quoted in the book as saying that Jenny was ‘a breath of fresh air.’ 

The Paulsons own a luxury 95-acre ranch in Aspen worth $49million

The Paulsons own a luxury 95-acre ranch in Aspen worth $49million

The Paulsons own a luxury 95-acre ranch in Aspen worth $49million

The sprawling ranch in Aspen previously belonged to a Saudi prince, who originally bought it for $135million, making it the most expensive home in the US

The sprawling ranch in Aspen previously belonged to a Saudi prince, who originally bought it for $135million, making it the most expensive home in the US

The sprawling ranch in Aspen previously belonged to a Saudi prince, who originally bought it for $135million, making it the most expensive home in the US 

The wealthy hedge fund boss spent a year courting his assistant, but she refused to go out with him unless he fired her and found her another job.

Jenny ultimately agreed to a lunch date with John, and after sharing 200 meals together, the investor proposed to her. The couple tied the knot in 2000 in an Episcopalian ceremony in Southampton. 

Paulson became a celebrity in the world of finance when in 2007 he made an unprecedent bet against the then-booming housing market, predicting that the subprime loan bubble would burst. 

When Paulson’s forecast came to pass, he and his investors walked away from the financial calamity $20billion richer. 

Paulson’s hedge funds managed $38billion at their height in 2011, which shrank to $8billion by the end of 2019. 

On the heels of the heavy losses, Paulson converted his hedge fund into a family investment firm last year. 



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