The ex-wife of Amazon Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos is a major individual shareholder of the e-commerce giant.
She has revolutionized the hushed world of philanthropy, dispensing with customs and traditions.
In two years MacKenzie Scott has given several billion dollars to noncharitable organizations and associations without ever expecting anything in return or even having a foundation bearing her name.
In so doing she has changed the giving game and become one of the world’s true influencers.
In 2019, after 25 years of marriage, Scott and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos announced an amicable divorce, marked by the transfer of 4% of the Seattle tech and e-commerce giant to Scott.
And for the past three years she has drawn media coverage, even as she speaks only through posts on Medium.com, in which she details why she chooses to donate so much of her fortune.
“I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis,” Scott wrote in December 2020.
“The result over the last four months has been $4,158,500,000 in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Some are filling basic needs: food banks, emergency relief funds, and support services for those most vulnerable.”
Scott, 52, has thus far given away more than $12 billion to organizations across the U.S., helping children, women, minorities and refugees and enabling rural areas to access health care.
This month she donated two mansions in Beverly Hills, Calif., to the California Community Foundation, a Los Angeles nonprofit supporting causes including education, health, immigration and housing in Los Angeles County. These two homes are valued at a total of $55 million.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, her fortune is valued at $28.9 billion as of Sept. 28, making her the world’s 39th richest person. Her fortune, based mainly on her stake in Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com Inc. Report, has shrunk by nearly half ($27.4 billion) since January.
The e-commerce giant shares are down 29% since January, due to investor fears of a possible recession.
After her divorce from Bezos in 2019, she married Dan Jewett, a high-school science teacher in Seattle.
And now one of the world’s richest women has filed a petition for divorce in King County, Wash., Superior Court.
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
Scott and Jewett had married discreetly. The world had discovered their union via a GivingPledge page Jewett wrote in March 2021. The Giving Pledge is an organization that encourages wealthy people to pledge to give a large part of their wealth during their lifetimes.
“I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know — and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others,” Jewett wrote on March 6, 2021. “I look forward to the growth and learning I have ahead as a part of this undertaking with MacKenzie.”
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The GivingPledge page has been updated to include only Scott’s name, and all mention of Jewett has been deleted from Scott’s Amazon bio.
That bio now presents her thus: “MacKenzie Scott is the author of two novels, and the recipient of an American Book Award. She lives in Seattle.” It previously said: “Scott “lives in Seattle with her four children and her husband, Dan.”
Whether Scott and Jewett had a prenuptial agreement and whether and how the divorce might affect her Amazon stake are unclear.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” Scott said in the last update of her GivingPledge page.
“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”