Bezos forced to announce divorce ahead of tell-all
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, was forced to announce his divorce ahead of a tell-all story about his eight-month affair with a former TV presenter, it was reported on Thursday.
The National Enquirer revealed on Thursday it had tailed the billionaire for four months across five states as he engaged in secret trysts with Lauren Sanchez, a former Fox presenter.
The magazine claimed to have obtained an embarrassing exchange of texts between Bezos, 54, and Sanchez, 49, who is married to Hollywood talent agent Patrick Whitesell.
It claimed to have contacted Bezos informing him of its investigation 48 hours before he publicly announced he was divorcing his wife MacKenzie.
The pair have been married for 25 years and have four children together.
MacKenzie, who is a novelist and was one of Amazon’s first employees, is expected to become the richest woman on the planet after their divorce settlement.
Bezos has an estimated net worth of $140bn (R1.9-trillion) and under divorce laws in Washington state, where the family live, couples without an existing agreement split any assets equally.
Asked about the divorce on Thursday, US president Donald Trump, a vocal critic of Bezos, told reporters “it’s going to be a beauty”.
Bezos has been a regular target for the US president, in part due to his ownership of the Washington Post newspaper, which frequently criticises the current administration.
The National Enquirer’s publisher, David Pecker, is a key media ally of the president and the magazine enjoyed a cosy relationship with Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
In 2018, it was revealed that Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc (AMI), had been granted immunity by US prosecutors in exchange for helping during the prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, over hush payments to women during the 2016 election.
One of them involved a $150,000 (R2m) payment from AMI to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, to suppress her claims of an affair with Trump.
The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities’ catch-and-kill deals, in which exclusive rights to people’s stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news.
Pecker, a long-standing friend of the president, reportedly met with prosecutors and gave details about the payments, including details relating to Trump’s knowledge of the deals.
Dylan Howard, chief content officer of AMI, was also given immunity by prosecutors, according to The Wall Street Journal. Howard was one of the authors of the magazine’s tell-all on Bezos.
Sanchez and Whitesell are thought to have separated in the autumn but have not formally filed for divorce.
A lawyer representing Bezos told The Enquirer that it was widely known the businessman and his wife had been long separated.
‘LONG SEPARATED’: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie