Nobody who sends sexual texts is likely to be comfortable with them emerging into the public domain.

Sexting is rarely appreciated by observers. Nevertheless those sent by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos are particularly excruciating in the cold light of day.

“I love you, alive girl, I will show you with my body, my lips and my eyes, very soon,” one read. While romantic in intention it has the rather unfortunate implication that the recipient is attractive merely for not being dead.

The messages were directed to former TV presenter and helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez, who is not Mr Bezos’ wife. “I want to smell you, I want to breathe you in,” another read. Online, the response to these billet-doux has not been kind.

It is online, of course, that Mr Bezos made his fortune. Online, and accompanied throughout by his wife MacKenzie. Prior to the publication of the texts and details of the affair by the National Enquirer, which had been working on the story for months under the codename ‘Project Alexa’, the Bezos announced they are to separate.

As Mr Bezos is head of the world’s most valuable company, and worth around $137 billion, this is being billed as the divorce of the century but it is likely to be quite simply the biggest divorce settlement ever.

As the Bezos family live in Washington, MacKenzie is predicted to walk away with half of that fortune. The couple had no prenuptial agreement and the state has a “community property” law which means an ex-husband and wife can expect to split their assets 50-50. An equitable share of the Amazon founder’s fortune would mean Mr Bezos was no longer the world’s richest man. And it would install the former Mrs Bezos as the world’s richest woman, ahead of L’Oreal heiress Francoize Bettencourt Meyers.

Those with knowledge of the couple say that is entirely justifiable: MacKenzie was a key part of the development of Amazon, helping her husband launch it out of a garage in Bellevue, Washington, managing its early accounts and supporting him throughout its growth. When they first set out from Texas in a battered car, she drove while he worked on revenue predictions in the passenger seat, or so the story goes. She helped come up with Amazon’s name.

In the book The Everything Story, which details the history of the company, she wrote: “I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others … n the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history”.

Donald Trump, who has a chequered history with Bezos, could barely contain his glee when asked to comment on the divorce: “I wish him luck, it’s gonna be a beauty”, the US President said with his usual gravitas.

But neither Jeff nor MacKenzie Bezos have appeared outwardly dismayed. Friends say the couple’s separation has been public knowledge since September and in a polished statement issued on Twitter, the couple, who have three teenage sons and a daughter adopted from China, said they would remain friends. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again,” they said.

This may be partly protective. Neither will be keen for a public battle, or to do anything that might damage the Amazon brand. While the company’s stock fell five per cent in the wake of the news, few analysts expect any lasting damage to be done.

But Mr Bezos also seems sanguine about the news of his affair with Sanchez, who has separated from her own husband, Hollywood talent agent Patrick Whitesell. He said he would not be taking any action to shut the more lurid coverage down. Mr Bezos “supports journalistic efforts and does not intend to discourage reporting about him,” his lawyer said.

He might be less happy – we all may – if other, more explicit sexts were to be published. The National Enquirer is said to have held back on revealing these, which are claimed to include ‘below the belt’ naked images Mr Bezos sent in “unsparing close up”.

Homes in Washington, Beverly Hills, Manhattan and a ranch in Texas and a converted museum in Washington DC are among the Bezos’ joint property. But the Amazon stock is by far the biggest asset. Marital law experts say the divorce itself may be relatively straightforward.

The couple may ensure that any settlement does not reduce Mr Bezos stock below a controlling share in Amazon – which could upset investors and damage both their stakes.

Jacqueline Newman, of NYC based Berkman, Bottger, Newman, and Rodd, says legal fees could be less than a million dollars if the bEzos settle out of court. But that is likely to be only a fraction of the cost. “The most expensive part won’t be legal fees, but rather experts and appraisers who must figure out how to divvy up the largest pile of personal assets in the world,” Ms Newman said.