Decades after she and her husband arrived in the United States from the Soviet Union with just $500 in their pockets, a woman was awarded $184 million (EURO 136.5 million) Monday in what could be one of the richest divorce verdicts in U.S. history.
The lawyer for Maya Polsky, 55, a homemaker and art gallery owner, successfully argued that she was her husband's trusted confidant and therefore entitled to half of the estate.
But the lawyers for energy magnate Michael Polsky, 57, contended that he was responsible for the couple's great wealth and said they likely will appeal Monday's decision.
A Cook County judge ruled in October that Maya Polsky was entitled to half of the couple's cash and assets, with her share valued at $176 million (euro 130.5 million). On Monday, Judge William Boyd amended his decision to include previously omitted assets which increased the value of her award.
Boyd also halved millions more in paintings, jewelry, rugs and other assets.
Maya Polsky's attorney, Howard Rosenfeld, said more than $170 million (euro126 million) of the award is nontaxable cash.
"She's very much satisfied with the court's decision. She thinks she was fairly treated by the court," he said.
The president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Gaetano Ferro, said he was not aware of a bigger divorce award in the U.S.
In 1980, the couple relocated to Chicago, where Michael Polsky found success in the energy business. He sold SkyGen Energy, a leading independent power producer, in 2000 for about $450 million.
The couple separated in 2002, and Maya filed for divorce the following year, citing irreconcilable differences.