If this settlement stands, it would be a record in the state of Illinois and quite possibly the richest divorce settlement ever in the United States. And, it all started with such humble beginnings ...
Michael and Maya Polsky arrived in the United States in 1976 after leaving the Soviet Union with four suitcases and just $500 in their pockets. Decades later, after 31 years of marriage, Maya, 57, was awarded $184 million in what might just be one of the richest divorce verdicts in US history.
At the center of the legal dispute is energy magnate Michael Polsky, 57, chief executive of Chicago-based Invenergy LLC. Standing on the other side of the courtroom was Maya Polsky, 55, a homemaker and art gallery owner who provided "love, support, advice and counsel" after the couple's 1975 marriage in the Soviet Union, according to court documents.
In October, a judge ruled that Mrs Polsky was entitled to half of the family's cash and assets. At the time, her share was valued at $176 million. However, Judge William Boyd recently amended his decision to include assets that had been previously omitted that have since increased the value of her award to $184 million.
Howard Rosenfeld, Mrs. Polsky's attorney, says that more than $170 million of the award is nontaxable cash. "She's very much satisfied with the court's decision. She thinks she was fairly treated by the court." Well, duh, do you think so?
Rosenfeld was successful in his arguments that Maya Polsky was her husband's "trusted confidant" and therefore entitled to half of the estate.
"They would walk together after dinners, and Michael would share details of his work, looking for empathy, advice or merely an open ear," Rosenfeld wrote in court filings. "For many years, their marital partnership flourished. Michael provided sustenance and security, and Maya provided love, support, advice and counsel."
There are no hard and fast rules under Illinois law that say how judges must split up marital assets. However, the law does says that certain factors must be considered and it basically lets the judge decide how much weight each factor gets.
It will come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Michael Polsky's lawyer are saying that he was totally responsible for the couple's great wealth and that they will likely appeal this decision.
Attorney Joseph Tighe says: "He intends to test this decision on appeal because he's always believed that this shouldn't have been a 50-50 split. The extraordinary marital estate in this case was built solely by Michael's skill, genius and drive."
The couple split up their properties as follows: Michael Polsky was awarded the couple's $7 million home in Aspen, Colorado, a $2.9 million residence in Chicago and $2.1 million home in East Troy, Wisconsin; Maya received their $2 million home in Glencoe and a $3.7 million home on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. She was also awarded various investments, cash and was allowed to keep the Maya Polsky Gallery, which is valued at $305,000.
The just also splt between the two millions of dollars worth of paintings, jewelry, rugs and other assets.