The richest couple in the world, Amazon’s MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos, posted on January 9 an artfully-crafted Twitter statement to announce their impending divorce after 25 years and 4 children. The split made every newscast, and was swiftly followed by an Enquirer expose of Jeff’s marital transgression with Lauren Sanchez, whose husband worked with Bezos on the film “Manchester By the Sea.”
Since Bezos owns the virulently anti-Donald Trump Washington Post, Enquirer owner and Trump enthusiast Rupert Murdoch–perhaps encouraged in high places–immediately found and publicized the sordid details of Bezos’ affair.
And the world lapped it up. Quickly came jokes about MacKenzie being past her Prime. Scarce was pity that Jeff will likely pay his ex half of the $167 billion joint earnings they accumulated. MacKenzie Bezos, scorned despite the “wonderful futures” and “ventures and adventures” their divorce Tweet predicted, will emerge as the world’s richest woman, with more than $60 billion.
Despite a need to watch as if passing a car wreck, the public was shocked. Jeff had everything–not just money, but the kind of wife who seems ideal. She is intelligent and accomplished, Princeton-educated, winner of the American Book Award for fiction, and founder of organizations to prevent bullying and help homeless families. She is beautiful, with a slender, fit form. Most importantly, she is the mother of Jeff’s four children, three sons and an adopted daughter from China, the eldest of whom is 18.
Why would Jeff hurt his children, discard his vows, and pursue a married mother of three who is no younger than the lovely wife with whom he built a business and a home? This is the question that makes the Bezos divorce compelling.
Yet everyone intuitively knows why Bezos bolted: Emotions trump logic. It’s bizarre that Jeff would choose to destroy his family and sacrifice half his wealth for a less-accomplished woman who has no long-term stake in his welfare. But he wasn’t trying to be reasonable or prudent or decent or kind. He wanted “to feel alive!” The explanation for his irrational act is that the thrill of forbidden love, the excitement of new, passionate sexuality, is so strong it over-rides every shred of sense.
Love conquers all, including Jeff Bezos. Sad and fascinating. We onlookers gain smug satisfaction that even having it all wasn’t enough to prevent marital failure. But no matter what the tweets and tabloids say, Bezos is in a different milieu from the rest of us. As for normal people, well, we’ll keep asking Alexa and ordering from Amazon.