John Cleese divorced his third wife Alyce Faye Eichelberger in 2009. But he is still paying the settlement and one wonders how she managed to score more than half his net worth.
John Cleese is three-time divorcee and has now been married four times. He is still together with his fourth wife Jennifer Wade, whom he married in 2012. Perhaps their secret is that she’s 31 years his junior.
John’s first two divorces were amicable. He divorced Connie Booth in 1978. She is the mother of his first daughter and the two managed to remain friends, who are still in contact.
His second divorce was in 1990 from Barbara Trentham, whom he paid £2.5 Million by way of settling their divorce. Again, this was an amicable situation. She is the mother of his second daughter.
He said after his third divorce that he had never imagined it to turn out the way it did. Since both of his previous divorces were peaceful and he had offered both of his ex-wives money in order to see them off, he didn’t expect his third divorce to become a huge deal.
Was he naive to think so?
Apparently yes and his friend and supporter Michael Winner certainly told him as much, predicting that it would be horrific.
John met Alyce in 1990 and was charmed with her. She lived in a council flat with her two sons from a previous marriage and John didn’t jump into it right away. But apparently he did buy her a house next to his before moving in together and finally getting married in 1992.
Alyce is a psycho-analyst and is said to pride herself in her degrees. But being married to John Cleese clearly spoiled her. The two would holiday in luxurious locations, own property, live lavishly. She came from relative poverty and John took his money for granted. He said himself he never really thought about how much he owned or what his net-worth was until the divorce from Alyce.
Whilst Alyce later greatly exaggerated how luxurious their life together really was, it was certainly a few notches up from what she had known most of her life. And she was not going to let go of it.
It’s said that the couple led separate lives for a few years before John finally decided that they should get a divorce in 2007. Their relationship was not going anywhere and had become loveless, it appears. Divorcing was a natural step.
But it took nearly two years for it to be settled. John apparently tried to settle with Alyce without their lawyers. He wanted it nice and easy and just make her go away. Fair enough. But whatever he offered her was not enough for Alyce and she decided to battle it out.
She hired famous divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton (who had handled Prince Charles’ and Paul McCartney’s divorces – interestingly making sure the wives didn’t get much money), who is known as the Steel Magnolia. The case was fought in British as well as Californian courts and it was interestingly in California, where a judge decided that the monthly maintenance of £106,000 that John was to pay to Alyce was excessive and slashed it to £51,000.
Ultimately she still managed to be awarded more than half of John’s estimated net-worth at the time. She received a £8 Million lump sum right away, two houses (one in California, one in London) and an apartment in New York. And John would have to pay her £651,000 in maintenance every year for the next seven years. In total that would amount to £12.5 Million.
One of Alyce’s arguments as to why she deserved this money was that she had become accustomed to the lifestyle that goes with it.
Let’s not forget that this was a childless marriage.
John Cleese was deeply unhappy with the outcome. And somewhat vindictive. He was 69 at the time and decided to start a new comedy tour that would help settle the alimony. He actually called it his Alimony Tour as well.
Earlier this year he spoke out about the settlement again. He is still as unhappy about it as he was then, but has calmed down somewhat. Having to pay her every year still riles him, though, especially the fact that she received more than half his money, undeservedly.
They were married for 16 years. How they managed to stay together that long seems a mystery. John and Alyce probably should have divorced six or seven years earlier.
Would Alyce have received a fair amount of money? Given that she came into the marriage with nothing, anything would have been fair. She would certainly have received at least the same amount that his second wife received, likely more; he could afford it, after all. But few people truly think that she deserved as much as she received.
John, meanwhile, is happily remarried and even goes so far as to say that he is truly in love for the first time in his life. He’s by no means a poor man and the fact that his wife is in her forties should evidence that. Let’s just hope it will be his last marriage.
We don’t know if Alyce is seeing anyone, but she still goes by the name Alyce Faye Cleese on her website.