Andrew Neil, a former editor of the United Kingdom Sunday Times, once wrote about the best advice he had received while working for media billionaire Rupert Murdoch. “Do not fall in love with Rupert,” he was told. “He turns to lovers and chops them off.”
Perhaps the advice should not only be given to Murdoch’s courtiers, but also to the women he has married over the years.
On Wednesday, New York Times reported that Murdoch, 91, was to divorce his fourth wife, former model and actor Jerry Hall, who is 65.
Murdoch and Hall met in Australia in 2015 when Hall was on tour in the stage adaptation of Candidates, plays Mrs Robinson. The first public confirmation of their courtship came the same year when Murdoch was photographed kissing Hall at the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham in October 2015.
The couple married in 2016, and on his wedding day, Murdoch, who had a brief flirtation with Twitter, tweeted: “Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in the world.”
The English poet Samuel Johnson once wrote that another marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. Perhaps a fourth marriage is better described as the triumph of the imagination over intelligence.
In March earlier this year, Murdoch, which is worth an estimated $ 7.62 billion ($ 11 billion) on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, listed its New York penthouse 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.
Opposite Madison Square Park, one 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 shares in News Corp and Fox, companies that own newspaper, publishing and television assets globally, and also in Disney. Disney bought the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox in a $ 71 billion stock deal in March 2019.
Murdoch’s recent divorce has come as a surprise. Only in October last year, Hall was seen thrilled with Murdoch at his belated 90th birthday party, which she held in a tent attached to the Tavern on the Green restaurant in New York Central Park. The party was attended by 130 power brokers, longtime lieutenants, friends and family, among them other 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 become headlines around the world, with good reason. For more than half a century, Murdoch has been central to the state of the world. His media companies have reshaped governments through their influence, with his Fox News Channel helping elect US President Donald Trump in 2016 while his British tabloid The sun led the fight for Britain to leave the EU, 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.
Now that Murdoch is the news story, paparazzi are trying to get pictures of him and Hall, and there is feverish speculation about the payout she will receive.
Will Hall get the British home that the couple spent £ 11.25 million on in 2019? Did she sign a marriage contract, just as Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng did?
Murdoch divorced Deng after a 14-year marriage, and the settlement included cash and property, and also, reportedly, their two children would become equal recipients 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 a 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 is not the only billionaire to go down the aisle several times.
Larry Ellison, the world’s 11th richest person and founder of Oracle, has been married four times. Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla, has been married three times, including twice to the same woman.
Even Warren Buffett, the world’s seventh-richest man, who is the same age as Murdoch and often portrayed as a virtue, has had unconventional relationships. He married his first wife in 1952 and was married to her for five decades. But for most of that time, Buffett lived with another woman, whom he would later marry after his first wife died.
Murdoch enters the last years of his life on his own, but with his power, influence, and wealth intact. Like all billionaires, he has never had to worry about the “too poor” part of his wedding vows.
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