5 Canadian marriage meltdowns resulting in big settlements

Millions changed hands when these Canadian high-flyers went their separate ways

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1. Gordon Lightfoot and Brita Ingegerd Olaisson: In 1973, when Lightfoot and Olaisson called it quits after 10 years of marriage, she was awarded what was once considered the largest divorce settlement in Canadian history—$4,500 a month, which, in today’s dollars, works out to close to $290,000 a year. Lightfoot’s torrid affair with backup singer Cathy Smith, who was the inspiration behind Lightfoot’s most successful commercial hit, Sundown, contrib- uted to the breakup.

2. Jack Kent Cooke and Barbara Jean Carnegie
: Born in Hamilton in 1912, the former owner of the Wash- ington Redskins, L.A. Lakers and the L.A. Kings was married five times to four different women. Up first was Barbara Jean Carnegie, a marriage that lasted for 46 years. In 1979, Judge Joseph Wapner (yes, that Judge Wapner, who later oversaw cases on The People’s Court) awarded Carnegie US$49 million. At the time the divorce settlement landed a Guinness record as the largest in history.

3. James Cameron and Linda Hamilton: Cameron has had enough divorces to fill his own list. He’s been married five times, four ending in divorce. However, it was his fourth marriage, to Terminator actress Linda Hamilton, that ended up hitting his pocket- book hardest. In 1999, after the couple had been together for eight years (18 months of that time married), Hamilton filed for divorce when she discovered Cameron’s affair with his present wife, Suzi Amis, an actress in his blockbuster Titanic. Cameron earned roughly US$100 million from that movie, with half that amount going to Hamilton for the settlement, believed to be the largest celebrity divorce payout.

4. Chuck Fipke and Marlene Fipke: After prospecting for diamonds for eight years in the Northwest Territories, Fipke discovered one of the largest diamond concentrations in the world at Lac de Gras. His stake in the Ekati diamond mine was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But proving that diamonds aren’t forever, his marriage to Marlene fell apart. She’d travelled at his side around the world on his expeditions, served as his accountant and sometimes dried core samples in their kitchen. In a settlement reached in 2000, Marlene received 21 per cent of Dia Met, then valued at $123 million. Fipke took it in stride, saying the settlement was the “best money I ever spent.”

5. David Thomson and Laurie Ludwick: Thomson, 3rd baron Thomson of Fleet and head of the family that controls Canada’s largest fortune (estimated net worth of $21 billion) had a rocky relationship with Ludwick, a Toronto communications professional, after their marriage in 2000. When she became pregnant in 2005, Thomson left her; he served her with divorce papers three hours after she arrived home from the hospital with their newborn son. Under the terms of the divorce settlement, set out in a prenuptial agreement, Thomson was to pay Ludwick $5.4 million. She contested the settlement, but the pair quietly settled out of court.

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