Here was my take on the Hulk Hogan/Linda Bollea divorce, quoted in this national news article:
A recent court filing spilled the beans on Linda Bollea’s 2009 divorce settlement with wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan, and it’s a whopper.
The WWF icon, whose real name is Terry Bollea, was taken to the mat by his ex to the tune of 70 percent of their couple’s liquid assets, $3 million in property settlement plus half the income from the sale of their two Florida homes, in addition to 40 percent ownership in companies who manage sales and licensing of various Hulk-brand products.
Linda Bollea also got to keep at least four of the former couple’s cars, including a Mercedes, Escalade, Corvette and Rolls Royce.
“I was extremely happy” with the settlement, says Raymond Rafool, Linda Bollea’s attorney. “Apparently [Hogan’s lawyers] thought they were doing pretty well. I thought we were doing better and it turns out we did do better.”
Linda Bollea’s total haul should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.5 million cash, $3 million from property plus another estimated $5 million once their second home is sold, along with the cars and the ongoing company income.
The settlement surpasses the 50 percent of assets that Linda Bollea was entitled to by law, says Brent Rose, a partner at Orsini and Rose Law Firm. “Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means it works exactly like a community property state—any assets acquired during the marriage are split 50/50,” Rose explains. In rare cases, judges can alter the 50/50 ratio.
However, most divorce cases—Rose estimates up to 90 percent—settle out of court to save the money, time and stress involved in a trial.
Hold onto Your Pocketbook
The Daily Beast has compiled a slideshow of expensive celebrity divorces, and while Hulk might be hurting, he got off easy compared to what some wealthier actors, athletes and moguls shelled out. Among the largest:
- Harrison Ford’s second divorce, from Melissa Mathison, cost him a rumored $90 million
- Tiger Woods settled for $100 million with his ex, Elin Nordegren
- Michael Jordan paid Juanita Jordan $168 million when they split in 2007
- Rupert Murdoch’s 1999 divorce from longtime wife Anna looks to be the record, costing the News Corp emperor a stunning $1.7 billion
In the Ring: Gross vs. Net Income
The Hogan settlement came to light over a dispute about the companies that handle Hulk products and marketing. Both parties agree that Linda Bollea should receive 40 percent of the net revenues—essentially, any money Hogan makes off the “Hulk” brand that he made famous during their marriage. The only exceptions are for personal appearances, acting and book sales. However, Rafool claims that Hogan has been hiding income, and judges have ruled that he pay an additional $126,000.
“The reason to come through the company is so we can keep track of what he’s doing,” Rafool says. “We’re entitled to 40 percent. He didn’t do this. He pocketed all the money.”
Payouts based on net revenue are dangerous, Rose says, because accounting gimmicks can sharply reduce or eliminate company profits. “Good lawyers know net is always zero,” he says. “You have to be careful with these celebrity cases. You always end up with 50 percent of zero.”
The safer route is to ask for a percentage of gross income. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Hogan’s lawyer David Houston is resisting the payment because he claims it demands 40 percent of gross revenues. Rafool says that’s not true; they just want to see the whole pot of money so they can verify how much they’re owed. “You have to give the gross before you get the net,” he says.
Ongoing Legal Difficulties
For three years, the couple and their two children starred on the VH1 reality show Hogan Knows Best, which was canceled in 2007 due to the deterioration of the marriage as well as legal issues surrounding John Graziano, who suffered serious brain damage after a crash in a car driven by their son Nick Bollea. Since the split, the crash has resulted in years of legal action. At one point Hogan sued his ex-wife as part of a suit against Wells Fargo for not providing him with adequate insurance against personal lawsuits. The lawyers have been part of the theater: Rafool once reportedly offered to wrestle Hogan during an altercation outside the courthouse during the divorce case.
However, both are moving on to other projects: Linda Bollea has penned a book about her life with the Hulk, and is working on some potential T.V. productions, according to her lawyer. Hogan is focusing on promoting micro-wrestlers—none over four feet tall—in the TruTV offering Micro Championship Wrestling, which debuted this year. Hogan also remarried, to Jennifer McDaniel last year in Florida.
Of Hogan’s marriage, Rafool says “[Linda] is happy for him, and wishes he would just move on with his life and agree to abide by the agreement.”
Reported by Aaron Kase of Lawyers.com.