The Facebook IPO was one of the most anticipated of all time. It made 28 year-old hoodie-wearing founder Mark Zuckerberg one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated net worth of nearly $20 billion dollars. Zuckerberg of course married his longterm girlfriend, recent medical school graduate Priscilla Chan, in a small private ceremony in his backyard just one day after Facebook went public. It was a surprise ceremony in that guests thought they were coming to a graduation party for Priscilla, but instead were treated to a wedding. Reports claimed that the event was planned for over four months. People were buzzing that the timing was suspect in that Priscilla would have no claim to the Facebook billions since Mark grew and “sold” the business prior to marrying her. Well TMZ consulted a lawyer who said that this isn’t true, since Mark grew the business prior to marrying Priscilla. Even if Facebook went public the day after the marriage, it’s not like she would be entitled to half the proceeds in the even of a divorce. It’s not like Mark was somehow trying to shaft Priscilla. She’s a highly accomplished, smart woman and she knows what’s up. Here’s more:
There’s talk that Mark Zuckerberg timed his wedding to cut his new wife out of the $20 billion he raked in Friday, when Facebook went public, but it’s simply not the case.
As you know, Mark married Priscilla Chan the day after his portfolio ballooned. But here’s the deal … Under California law, if one person grows a business before marriage and sells it right at the time he or she gets hitched, the new spouse has no legal claim to the proceeds of the sale.
Disso Queen Laura Wasser, who reps almost every celeb in the throes of divorce including Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie and Maria Shriver, tells TMZ it’s pretty simple: “Facebook is a separate property asset of Mr. Zuckerberg. It’s like a painter who paints a painting prior to marriage and sells it shortly after marriage. Any proceeds from the sale of the painting are the artist’s separate property.”
Now, if Facebook continues to increase in value during their marriage, Priscilla would have a 50% interest in proceeds from the growth. But if today is any indication … Priscilla shouldn’t hold her breath — the stock plummeted 10% today.
BTW, we don’t know if Mark got Priscilla to sign a prenup.
They talked about this on TMZ live (about 10 minutes into the video on this page). TMZ head Harvey Levin, who is a lawyer, explained it more clearly than this article does. He said that “All he’s done was cash in on what he created. Cashing in doesn’t give her the right to claim it.” Another staffer at TMZ asked if Priscilla would have rights to Facebook since she’s been with Mark for nine years, from when he created it. Harvey said no, and that “this is not a palimony situation… She’s been in medical school. She was creating her own career… She really didn’t give up anything, it was not that kind of relationship. So she wouldn’t be entitled to palimony. The bottom line is, it didn’t matter when he married her… the 20 billion dollars is his money alone.” Harvey went on to explain that she’s entitled to half the growth of Facebook during their marriage, but that it depends on if these two have a prenup or not, which is unknown.
Well there you have it, Zuckerberg married a woman he’s been with for nearly a decade, who has her own career. He’s not trying to bogart assets from her, and his choice of a mate makes him look like a stand up guy. If he wanted to he could easily be partying with supermodels on yachts with helicopter pads on them every weekend, but he’s not. As Kaiser mentioned in our earlier story on this, I’d love to see what’s next for these two. They can achieve amazing feats of philanthropy with that kind of money.