Australian American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 82, filed for divorce in New York from his third wife Wendi Deng, 44, of 14 years, on the grounds that the marriage has “irretrievably broken down.” The couple had originally married only weeks after his divorce to his second wife was finalized, and have two children, Grace, 11, and Chloe, 9. Deng threatened to leave Murdoch, her second husband, in 2006 when he revealed that their two children would not have the same full voting rights as his other four children do in his international corporation. Although Wendi Deng said in an interview to the New York Times in 2012 that she and her husband had been living separately for some time, she was apparently “totally blindsided” by the filing on June 13, 2013. Wendi Deng has since replaced family lawyer Pamela Sloan, who drew up the couple’s pre-nuptial agreement prior to their marriage in 1999, for “more independent counsel.” Lawyer William Zabel, a well-known trusts and estates specialist, has represented many other women in high-profile divorces from wealthy businessmen.
Murdoch’s family has suffered a number of high-profile scandals; the most recent being in 2011 when News Corporation’s News of The World was brought under scrutiny for hacking phones and bribing politicians. The scandal initiated the company to split into two separate divisions, News Corp., the publishing division and Twenty-First Century Fox, the movie and television division, on June 28, 2013. Deng was brought into the spot-light when she defended her husband, slapping a protestor flinging a shaving-cream pie while Murdoch was testifying in the UK parliamentary committee investigating the News of the World scandal. Despite her avid defence of her husband only two years ago, the marriage is definitely over, with even his biographer Michael Wolff in shock. “Wendi once told me that this is his reaction when things go wrong in business or his personal life,” he said. “He makes a decision and it’s over. He feels bad for a day, and then forgets about it.”
ABC News reports that Murdoch most likely filed for divorce in New York because the law holds to his favor in the State. “In New York, if there is a prenuptial agreement, the agreements are enforced as written,” says Michael Stutman, president of the New York chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and head of family law at Mishcon de Reya. Wendi Deng was promised less than $20 million in their pre-nuptial agreement, with no mention of child support or custody agreements as of yet, though their $90 million home and 180-foot yacht will likely be factored into the negotiation. Murdoch is the 38th richest person in the US and 106th wealthiest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of over 8 billion.