CLEARWATER — Anyone who doubts the rich really are different from the rest of us should spend a day or two watching the Hulk Hogan divorce proceedings.
Nine lawyers and two accountants sat Thursday with Terry and Linda Bollea, raking in thousands of dollars an hour and at times speaking at 250 words per minute.
The discussion was all about money — mounds of money far beyond the reach of normal people — and how it should be allocated for the next year.
Take for example the agreement between the two sides to let Linda subsist for the next year on $40,000 a month in temporary alimony payments. That monthly sum is just a hair below the median annual income for Pinellas County households.
The agreement went on to allow Terry, better known as Hulk Hogan, to withdraw $500,000 from the couple's accounts to spend as he sees fit. He can remove $400,000 more to pay legal fees for his son's criminal case.
While people are losing their homes to foreclosure, Linda and Terry Bollea had to find a way to split their mansions, at least temporarily.
So Linda gets the home on Willadel Drive in Belleair, listed by the property appraiser at $7.25-million, and Terry gets the house on Eldorado Avenue in Clearwater Beach, listed at $2.24-million.
And the fleet of cars. Four-dollar-a-gallon-gas notwithstanding, each of the spouses will get to use three vehicles, the agreement said.
Linda will have the use of her Cadillac, her Mercedes and a Corvette that is now in storage.
Terry can use his Dodge, his Mercedes and any car from storage other than the 2001 Rolls-Royce — a car he said he can't even fit inside.
The rest of the fleet will stay in storage.
The biggest item was a $4.2-million Las Vegas condo, on which the couple put an $840,000 down payment in 2005. Linda wanted to close on the condo, but Terry said it didn't make business sense.
On Thursday, Circuit Judge George W. Greer set aside an earlier court order requiring Terry to pony up the rest of the money. That decision saved him at least $3.4-million. Two of his lawyers hugged each other at the news.
"That's a lot of money we could appropriate to more pressing, more urgent matters," Terry Bollea said outside court.
Earlier in the day, an accountant hired by Linda said Terry had funneled $1.5-million of his income into accounts controlled by his friend and business partner, Eric Bischoff. Linda's attorneys accuse Terry of purposely hiding assets. The accountant also mentioned one of Terry's accounts at Morgan Stanley, which holds $5,878,475. At that point, Terry's attorney, Ann Loughridge Kerr, asked the testimony to stop.
So the net worth of the Hulk Hogan family is still unclear.
However big that number is, it will be divided between Terry and Linda when the divorce is eventually settled. A large chunk of the fortune might go to pay for medical treatment for John Graziano, a 23-year-old Marine who was a passenger when their son, Nick Bollea, crashed his car last August.
Nick pleaded no contest in May to a reckless driving charge and is serving an eight-month sentence. A civil suit on Graziano's behalf is working its way through the courts.
At various points throughout the hearing Thursday, Terry Bollea stared into his cupped palms.
On his right wrist, a tattoo of the word awareness reminds him "to be aware of the spirit of Christ in you," he said afterward.
On his left wrist, a tattoo of the word grateful reminds him to stay positive.
"I was living with a huge negative influence," Terry said of his wife. "I didn't know the world was a great place."
Terry Bollea said he and his children pray each night; first for Graziano, then for Linda.
Why Linda, the woman divorcing him?
"When you forgive people, you let them off the hook and you let yourself off the hook," he said.
"God has arranged our family the way he wants it," Terry Bollea added outside court. "I cannot wait for the second half of our life to start."
Jonathan Abel can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.