Hedge Fund Manager's Wife Ordered To Pay Legal Bills In Divorce

Oct 23 2013 | 10:48am ET

The "astounding" costs of hedge fund manager George Sykes' divorce from his wife, Amanda, have pushed the judge overseeing the split to make a major break with precedent.

The wealthier party in a divorce usually pays all of the legal bills, but that is a presumption Amanda Sykes will no longer enjoy. Fearing that the unlimited budget was keeping the soon-to-be-former-Mrs. Sykes from striking a deal, New York State Judge Matthew Cooper said she'd have to begin paying her own legal fees.

Cooper noted that George Sykes, who runs GS Gamma Investments, "has every incentive to curtail the litigation to the extent possible, even if that means accepting a settlement that falls short of what he wants. The wife, on the other hand, without any 'skin in the game,' does not have the same incentive insofar as her litigation costs are being paid for completely by her adversary."

Cooper released some $2 million in joint marital funds—about a tenth of George Sykes' total net worth—to pay the roughly $1 million in legal fees the two sides have incurred during the three-year battle to end the 14-year marriage. Cooper called those fees "astounding, even in the world of high-end matrimonials."

George Sykes' lawyer did not hide his fury in an interview with the New York Post.

"I'm not just going to throw money at Mr. Cohen's office to feed them," Harold Mayerson said of his legal adversary, Amanda Sykes' lawyer Robert Cohen. "In two months they ran up $700,000 in legal fees. It was a feeding trough, and you know who eats from a feeding trough. Enough is enough."

For his part, Cohen told the Post he's tried "very hard" to resolve the case, and noted that the trial judge will decide who will pay the legal fees.

Mayerson would appear to disagree.

"She's channeling Marie Antoinette," he said of Amanda Sykes, who lives in a $16,500-per-month apartment at Paris' Palais Royal with her son with George. "It's greed." Mayerson said Amanda Sykes was seeking $1.5 million.


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