Sumner Redstone, the 85 year old billionaire who owns a majority interest in the National Amusements theater chain, is divorcing his wife of five years, Paula Fortunato. Fortunato and Redstone married several years after he divorced his wife of 55 years in 1999. Fortunato is forty years Redstone’s junior and a former elementary school teacher.
Rumors began circulating over a year ago that Redstone had asked Fortunato to leave their Los Angeles-area home and that she refused. Word was then that she had signed an “iron-clad” prenuptial agreement and would only receive $1 million upon a divorce. Later, gossip columns suggested that Fortunato would receive $1 million for each year of marriage – $5 million in this case. In any event, Redstone finally filed for divorce in L.A. this month.
Redstone’s petition for dissolution indicates that the parties have entered into an agreement regarding the division of marital property and that there will be no spousal support. My guess is that Fortunato was given something more than the prenup promised her to quietly move on.
In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Redstone #86 on its list of 100 richest people in the world with a then-net worth of approximately $9 billion. Through his control of National Amusements, Redstone controls media company Viacom (which in turn controls MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks) and CBS Corporation. He owns half of MovieTickets.com.
Despite his massive wealth, current economic conditions have caused some major problems in Redstone’s corporations lately. Reportedly, National Amusements, run by Redstone’s daughter Shari, is desperately trying to restructure $1.6 billion in debt before year’s end. Perhaps these economic stresses led Redstone and Fortunato to settle their divorce quickly rather than to waste time and money in the current fiscal climate.
Redstone is represented in the divorce by Los Angeles attorney Robert Kaufman. You may remember Kaufman as the divorce lawyer of Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. He also represented Marsha Garces Williams (Robin Williams’ ex-wife).