Andrew Neil, a former editor of the British The Sunday Times, once wrote of the best advice he’d gotten while working for media billionaire Rupert Murdoch. “Don’t fall in love with Rupert,” he was told. “He turns on loved ones and cuts them off.”
Perhaps the advice should have been given not only to Murdoch’s courtiers, but also to the women he’s married over the years.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Murdoch, 91, was divorcing his fourth wife, former model and actor, Jerry Hall, who is 65.
Murdoch and Hall met in Australia in 2015 when Hall was touring in the stage adaptation of the graduateplaying Mrs. Robinson. The first public confirmation of their courtship came the same year when Murdoch was photographed kissing Hall during the Rugby World Cup final in Twickenham in October 2015.
The couple married in 2016 and on his wedding day, Murdoch, who had a brief flirtation with Twitter, tweeted, “Feel the happiest AND happiest man in the world.”
The English poet Samuel Johnson once wrote that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. Perhaps a fourth marriage would be better described as a triumph of imagination over intelligence.
In March earlier this year, Murdoch, who is worth an estimated $7.62 billion ($11 billion) on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, put his New York penthouse up for sale for a reported $78 million. In retrospect, there has been speculation as to whether Murdoch may have tried to sell that property prior to the divorce.
Located across from Madison Square Park and a block back from Fifth Avenue, the New York penthouse is said to have 360-degree views of the city, including landmark buildings such as the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Hudson and East rivers.
Murdoch’s wealth comes primarily from his interests in News Corp and Fox, companies that own newspaper, publishing and TV assets worldwide, as well as in Disney. Disney bought the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox, in a $71 billion stock deal in March 2019.
Murdoch’s latest divorce has come as a surprise. Last October, Hall was spotted in love with Murdoch at his late 90th birthday party she hosted in a tent next to the Tavern on the Green restaurant in New York’s Central Park. The party was attended by 130 rulers, longtime lieutenants, friends and family, including fellow media titans Barry Diller and Peter Chernin and at least two of Murdoch’s six children, Lachlan and Elisabeth.
Murdoch’s fourth divorce has quickly made headlines around the world, and for good reason. For more than half a century, Murdoch has been at the center of the world’s state of affairs. His media companies have reshaped governments through their influence, with his Fox News Channel helping to elect US President Donald Trump in 2016, while his British tabloid The sun led the fight for Britain to leave the European Union, in what became known as Brexit.
In Australia, former Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd have called for limiting Murdoch’s power and influence.
With Murdoch on the news, paparazzi attempt to snap pictures of him and Hall, and speculation is frenzied about the payout she’ll receive.
Will Hall get the British house the couple spent £11.25m on in 2019? Did she sign a prenuptial agreement like Murdoch’s previous wife Wendi Deng did?
Murdoch divorced Deng after 14 years of marriage and the settlement included money and property, and also reportedly that their two children would become equal beneficiaries of the Murdoch Family Trust, but without the right to vote. The trust controls the family’s voting shares in News Corp.
Murdoch was married to Deng from 1999 to 2013. His longest marriage was to Anna Torv from 1967 to 1999, with whom he had three children. His first marriage was to Patricia Booker, from 1956 to 1967, and they had one child.
Murdoch’s fourth divorce is unlikely to change the ownership structure of his empire. And what Hall will receive in the divorce remains unknown. However, she will almost certainly receive a larger payout than the £10 million she received in 1999, after her 22-year relationship with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger ended. The couple had four children.
Murdoch isn’t the only billionaire to walk down the aisle multiple times.
Larry Ellison, the 11th richest person in the world and founder of Oracle, has been married four times. Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and Tesla CEO, has been married three times, twice to the same woman.
Even Warren Buffett, the seventh richest man in the world, who is the same age as Murdoch and often seen as a paragon of virtue, has had unconventional relationships. He married his first wife in 1952 and was married to her for five decades. However, for much of that time Buffett lived with another woman, whom he would later marry after his first wife died.
Murdoch enters the final years of his life alone, but with his power, influence and wealth intact. Like all billionaires, he’s never had to worry about the “for the poorer” part of his wedding vows.
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