Oil tycoon Harold Gamm could have 'most expensive divorce' ever

Will Oil Tycoon's Divorce Settlement Be Most Expensive Ever?

Harold Hamm, who built an empire in the oil industry, is one of the richest men in the world. But now some of those billions could be at stake as he and his wife undergo talks for what will likely be an extremely pricey divorce.

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Oil tycoon Harold Gamm could have 'most expensive divorce' ever
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UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 22: Harold Hamm, chairman of Continental Resources Inc., stands for a photo near an oil rig outside Watonga, Oklahoma, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008. Hamm, owner of a 150-person oil company in 1988, began leasing 30,000 acres of Montana and North Dakota prairie he knew wouldn't produce oil. For 12 years, he sat back and watched rivals fail to draw from rocky ground. Today, geologists say the area may contain more oil than Saudi Arabia, making him the richest U.S. oilman. (Photo by Larry Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Harold Hamm, chairman, chief executive officer and founder of Continental Resources Inc,, smiles during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg Link Oil & Gas Conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. The first-ever Bloomberg Oil & Gas Conference will explore the global implications of the U.S. on the verge of energy independence, as well as the broader themes in the world of natural resources. Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Harold Hamm, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc., speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. Continental Resources Inc., an Enid, Oklahoma-based oil and gas exploration company, explores, exploits, develops, and acquires oil and gas reserves, primarily in the Rocky Mountains and the Mid-Continent, as well as in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Louisiana. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Harold Hamm attends the TIME 100 Gala celebrating TIME'S 100 Most Infuential People In The World at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for TIME)

Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann, have been separated since 2005 due to her claims of his infidelity. With a hefty $20 billion fortune on the table, the couple's divorce trial has made headlines claiming it could be the most expensive divorce ever.

Hamm founded Continental Resources in the 1960s and was a pioneer in oil fracking. According to Forbes, Hamm is currently the 34th richest person in the world.

The company's success is now at the center of a heated debate within the trial as the two sides argue whether it was due to luck or skill. As CNBC explains, "Couples have two kinds of assets: There's active and there's passive. Active assets are those that come from work and those are the ones that can be divided. Passive assets, well, they're from luck or passive investing."

Although this asset division is not unique to the couple's home state of Oklahoma, most divorce settlements haven't had this much at stake.

So much that even some of the proceedings, such as the opening arguments, were kept behind closed doors in order to protect confidential information and company shareholders.

Some outlets are predicting this to be the most expensive divorce settlement in history, beating a $4.5 billion settlement in May against a Russian businessman.

NBC has dubbed this "the King Kong of divorce cases" in which Sue Ann Hamm would only need less than a quarter of her ex-husband's net worth to match the record settlement: they say the settlement could be $17 billion.

In the U.S., some prominent divorce settlements have topped a few hundred million. Mel Gibson's was $425 million, Michael Jordan's was $168 million and Tiger Woods' was $110 million.

According to the Daily Mail, some experts are now wondering what such a large settlement would mean for the company, as Hamm ownsa 68 percent stake in Continental Resources, which produces nearly 10 percent of America's oil.

Neither party's lawyer has commented on the case. A settlement is expected by the end of October.

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