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Schmidt's $1.45bn Google stock sale compelled by adultery?

May top Murdoch for world's most expensive divorce

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Eric Schmidt's recent sale of over $1.45bn (£914m) in Google stock raised eyebrows on Wall Street, but a report now suggests he needs the liquidity to pay off his wife for a divorce.

"There are many reasons why he's selling shares, mostly business reasons, but he's also working towards a transition and an amicable separation and settlement with his wife," a source told the New York Post. "They are both very private, so they're quietly dividing up assets without drawing attention. There's been no paperwork filed."

The paper reports that Schmidt has been openly dating top Council on Foreign Relations exec Lisa Shields for 18 months. He's also been linked to several other women during the course of his career at Google, usually high-powered executives with business in the technology or political spheres. His wife has largely spent her time on charity work, but it has been speculated that the couple enjoy an agreed-upon monogamish marriage.

If not, then hell may well have no fury like a woman scorned, and the divorce could come with a very big bill, particularly if it takes place in California. Schmidt is worth a guesstimated $7bn and he and his wife have been together many years, so she'd be within her rights to claim to have contributed to the most lucrative parts of his career, and to take half that fortune under the Golden State's community property law.

The most expensive divorce on record is Rupert Murdoch's $1.7bn break-up with his long-standing wife Anna, but Schmidt may well give this a run for its money. He's almost certain to join Murdoch and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the billion-dollar payout lists, and this will certainly be the technology industry's most expensive divorce – to date. ®

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