At a centuries-old mansion in central London in 2016, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Texan-born model Jerry Hall were married in a low-key ceremony.
He was 84, she was 59, and the civil ceremony at Spencer House in St James’s Place on March 4 marked the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for the Melbourne-born billionaire.
Hours later, he tweeted: “No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in world.”
Fast forward six years, and the couple who were the subject of endless media fascination the world over are back in the headlines and reportedly getting a divorce.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the pair were going their separate ways, “according to two people with knowledge of the decision”.
“The people would speak only anonymously to discuss a personal matter.”
Some people close to Mr Murdoch were surprised to hear of the divorce, wrote the NYT.
The Washington Post also reported the news, saying it signalled “the end of Murdoch’s fourth, and shortest, marriage”.
News of the split has also sparked speculation about how it will affect Mr Murdoch’s vast wealth.
Mr Murdoch has 10 children from four marriages (including four step-children from Hall’s relationship with Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger).
According to the NYT, Mr Murdoch’s divorce, his fourth, is unlikely to alter the ownership structure of businesses he holds stakes in, which include Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News Channel, and News Corp, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
“The Murdoch family’s shares in the companies Mr Murdoch founded reside in a strictly managed trust,” the NYT reported.
“Mr Murdoch splits voting rights over that trust with his four oldest children – Lachlan, Elisabeth, James and Prudence – and has arranged them so that he can never be outvoted.”
However, the paper speculated the split “could reverberate throughout his business empire, which maintains powerful sway in America and abroad through its right-leaning news brands … The Sun in Britain and Sky News in Australia”.
Mr Murdoch, now 91, controls News Corp and Fox Corp through a Reno, Nevada-based family trust that holds a 40 per cent stake in voting shares of each company.
At the time of publishing on June 24, Bryce Tom, a spokesman for Murdoch, had declined to comment and a representative for Hall, who is now 65, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to Forbes‘ real-time wealth tracker, Mr Murdoch and his family are worth $US17.7 billion ($25.7 billion).
He sold the Fox film and television studios and other entertainment assets to Walt Disney Co in a $US71.3 billion ($103.39 billion) deal that closed in March 2019.
Wendi Deng Murdoch
Mr Murdoch was 68 when he married his third wife, Chinese-born 30-year-old Wendi Deng, on June 25, 1999 aboard his yacht Morning Glory in New York Harbour.
Departing from Chelsea Piers with 82 guests on board, a string quartet played Mozart as the couple were married by state Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Silbermann.
Ms Deng was a Yale School of Management graduate and a newly appointed vice-president of the Murdoch-owned Star TV in Hong Kong when they married.
They had two children together – Grace, born in 2001, and Chloe, born in 2003, and divorced in 2014 after 14 years of marriage.
The Washington Post reported “it was during that … marriage that Murdoch broke up the terms of the trust that controls his family’s media empire to make space for his two daughters with Deng”.
“Around the same time, Lachlan Murdoch, Murdoch’s older son and then his heir apparent, left the family business and returned to Australia; he has since returned as a key leader of the Murdoch empire.”
In a 2018 Vogue cover story, Ms Deng revealed her and Mr Murdoch continued to parent as a team after their highly publicised divorce.
“Rupert’s a very good father,” she told Vogue.
“Strict like me. We attend school conferences together. We both make sure they learn Chinese, do well in math. We make decisions together about how they use social media. We never want them to say, ‘Well, Mommy said this’ or ‘Daddy said that’.”
Anna Murdoch Mann
In 1967, Mr Murdoch married his second wife Anna Torv, a Scottish-born journalist with whom he had three children: Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.
They divorced in June 1999 after 32 years of marriage.
Mr Murdoch married his first wife, Patricia Booker, a former flight attendant with whom he had a daughter, Prudence (Prue). They divorced in 1966.
Ms Booker told Murdoch’s biographer Michael Wolff in a Guardian interview in 2008: “I’ve always been low key and not many people know about me, and I like that, I just love that”.
Hall and Ms Murdoch spent their six-year marriage between homes in the US and UK, having bought Holmwood, an 18th-century house and estate in the English village of Binfield Heath.
In 2016, the BBC reported his relationship with Hall began a year earlier after the pair were introduced to each other in Australia by one of Murdoch’s sisters and his niece.
They were first spotted together in public at the Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in London and were engaged in Los Angeles in early 2016.
In late 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that Murdoch and Hall had been isolating in their home for much of the year.
Hall was the long-time partner of Mick Jagger, with whom she had Georgia May, Lizzie, James and Gabriel.
She and Jagger married in a Hindu wedding ceremony in Bali in 1990.
“Her two-decade relationship with Jagger ended in 1999 when she filed for divorce – and a British court agreed with Jagger’s argument that their 1990 wedding in Bali had never been a legally binding ceremony,” reported the Post.
“While tabloids speculated that Hall received only a tiny fraction of Jagger’s fortune at the time of their annulment, their lawyers released a joint statement saying ‘a mutually acceptable legal and financial settlement has been reached’,” it read.
It is not known if the couple have a pre-nuptial agreement, although Mr Murdoch did have one with Ms Deng.
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