Maria Shriver is already rich — and is poised to become very rich.
The Kennedy heiress and former newscaster had a thriving career when she married Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1986; by the time she left broadcasting to become California’s first lady, she was earning a seven-figure salary. Shriver filed for divorce on July 1 citing “irreconcilable differences” (i.e. affair with family housekeeper, love child, etc.) and is likely to receive a huge settlement: With no prenup and 25 years together, California’s 50-50 community property laws mean she’ll probably get $200 million — half of Schwarzenegger’s estimated $400 million movie and business empire.
That will make her one of the richest Kennedys.What’s unclear is if Schwarzenegger is entitled to any of Shriver’s share of the family’s fortune.
The Kennedy’s wealth has been the object of fascination for decades, veiled in secrecy and silence. Reps for the family trusts did not — as usual — comment Wednesday about current value or how the money is distributed among the expanding generations.
This much we do know: Patriarch Joe Kennedy made a fortune in the stock market, movie studios, liquor and real estate before World War II.When he died in 1969 it was estimated at $400-$500 million; by 1990, Forbes projected it had grown to $850 million, carefully protected in trust funds and investments and doled out in checks to family members.
The biggest payday came in 1998, when the Kennedys sold Chicago’s Merchandise Mart (purchased in 1945 by Joe for $12.5 million) and other properties for $625 million. Joe’s children — Ted, Eunice, Patricia and Jean — each received $75 million; JFK’s heirs Caroline and John split $75 million, as did Ethel Kennedy and RFK’s children.
Shriver and her siblings also inherited Eunice’s share of 1926 and 1936 trusts created by their grandfather. How much? Hard to say for sure. Their cousin, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, reported in required financial disclosure forms last year that his share of those two trusts (inherited after his father died in 2009) was worth between $6 million and $30 million.
We’ll know more about the divorce settlement in the next few days — by California law, Schwarzenegger is required to respond to the court filing within two weeks.
Read earlier: Schwarzenegger’s love child: How did he keep the secret so long?, 5/18/11