For a city that gave divorce a bad name through its movie depiction of the ultimate ugly bust-up, Kramer vs. Kramer, the New York hearing of Murdoch vs. Murdoch went remarkably smoothly. There were no histrionics and no last-minute wrangles.

Even Ellen Gesmer, the judge presiding over the hearing at the New York supreme court in Manhattan, sounded relieved by its cordiality. “I’m glad you managed to settle this matter amicably,” she said, addressing herself to the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and his soon-to-be-ex wife Wendi Deng seated in front of her.

As the dividing couple stood to leave courtroom 543 and go their separate ways, Wendi stepped up to Rupert, pecked him on the cheek, and said quietly: “Thank you”. He smiled back, with no apparent rancour, despite being listed as the plaintiff in the case.

The settlement brings to an end Murdoch’s third marriage, and it remains to be seen whether the 82-year-old leaps into a fourth matrimony as swiftly as he did the last. He married Wendi, whom he met in 1998 in China where she was working for an offshoot of his News Corporation empire, just days after his divorce from Anna Torv was finalised in 1999.

That divorce, following 32 years of marriage, is said to have cost him $1.7bn, including a cool $100m in cash. The new settlement with Wendi, based on a pre-nuptial and two post-nuptial agreements, may not involve quite such a vast sum, but nor will it be cheap for the media mogul who, according to Forbes, is down to his last $13.4bn.

The terms of the agreement have not been made public, but various elements have been gleaned by the US media. Wendi, 44, is thought to be keeping the Fifth Avenue penthouse she shared with Rupert and their two children, Grace, 12, and Chloe, 10, that they bought eight years ago for $44m, as well as a house in Beijing.

After the verbal niceties were done, the Murdochs and their divorce lawyers were required to sit for several minutes as the paperwork was prepared. Then, after less than 10 minutes it was all over; Rupert Murdoch walked out of the courtroom an eligible bachelor once again.