Famous Philanthropists Call It Quits

Mercedes and Sid Bass are married Texas billionaires who are known the world over for helping others. But when it comes to their marriage, it seems, they were the ones who needed help. In an announcement that stunned Pasadena divorce attorneys and society watchers alike, Mercedes and Sid Bass confirmed last Thursday that they are ending their marriage after 23 years.
In the statement, the couple said they "mutually agreed to end their marriage" and they "continue to love each other and remain good friends." While the exact details of the divorce are unknown, expect interest in the breakup to be high given Mr. Bass' roots. Sid is the oldest of son of Perry and Nancy Lee Bass and is the great-nephew and namesake to famous Texas oil wildcatter Sid Richardson. Forbes magazine valued Sid Bass' fortune at $2.1 billion just a few weeks ago. The couple called Fort Worth home, and they lived in an estate valued at more than $16 million. The pair also own residences in Manhattan and Aspen, Colo. Mercedes and Sid Bass had no children together and this was the second marriage for both.
Married at the Plaza Hotel in New York in December 1988, the couple spent the duration of their relationship spearheading charitable events and being heavily involved in the arts. Mercedes, an Iranian-born socialite, is chairwoman of the board of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, vice chairwoman of the board of Carnegie Hall and vice chairwoman of the board of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Basses' work with the Fort Worth Symphony, in particular, has endeared the couple to the Texas artistic community.
"I have profound respect for Mercedes and Sid. What they have done for Fort Worth has been amazing," said Ann Koonsman, retired president of the symphony orchestra. "They have helped the symphony do things that we ordinarily could only dream of."
The couple met at a party in New York in the 1980s. Mercedes' first husband was New York businessman Francis Kellogg.
Both Sid and Mercedes Bass are well-known for their philanthropy, but she is the more familiar public face. Few people in Fort Worth are as involved in the arts. Amy Adkins, president and CEO of the symphony orchestra, said she had not spoken to Mercedes Bass and does not know what her plans are.
Adkins was effusive in her praise.
"I know of her love for the Fort Worth Symphony and symphonic music," Adkins said. "The Fort Worth Symphony has been one of her loves and passions."