The billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, a former top model, are reportedly set to divorce.
The New York Times cited two anonymous sources for its report on the coming split. It said a spokesman for Murdoch did not comment while representatives for Hall could not be reached.
The Australian-born Murdoch was married three times previously. Hall married Mick Jagger in 1990 but the union was annulled nine years later.
The Times said people close to Murdoch were “surprised” to hear of the end of a marriage, which had allowed Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s oldest son, to take a more prominent role running properties including, in the US, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
But Rupert Murdoch remains immensely powerful as a shaper of rightwing opinion and a cultural touchstone in his own right.
Logan Roy, the ruthless media baron played by Brian Cox in the HBO hit Succession, is largely based on Murdoch.
According to a recent book by two New York Times journalists, Murdoch’s ownership of Fox News, the chief outlet for Donald Trump’s big lie about electoral fraud, for climate crisis denial and other rightwing rallying cries, means the US president, Joe Biden, views him as “the most dangerous man in the world”.
The split with Hall, the paper said, may yet “reverberate throughout [Murdoch’s] business empire, which maintains powerful sway in America and abroad through its right-leaning news brands including the … the Sun in Britain and Sky News in Australia”.
Murdoch and Hall married in 2016, staging a civil ceremony before a celebration at St Bride’s church on Fleet Street, the historical center of the British newspaper industry which Murdoch transformed in the 1970s and 80s.
Before the wedding, a friend of the couple told the Guardian: “They are very sweet together, in a little couple bubble. They act like a married couple already, talking over each other, holding hands.
“She puts her feet up on his legs, they disagree on things like any married couple. She hates Trump, he understands Trump, it’s been like that from the beginning.”
On his wedding day, Murdoch tweeted: “No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in the world.” He has not tweeted any original messages since, and only three cryptic replies to other tweets.
In 2019, the couple spent £11.25m ($13.8m) on a house near Henley-on-Thames, near London. Last year, they celebrated Murdoch’s 90th birthday together in New York, at the Tavern on Green.
According to Variety, “the gathering was kept to about 130 people and took place in a giant tent attached to the famed restaurant on the edge of Central Park.
“Some of the wine served came from Murdoch’s Moraga Vineyards in Bel-Air. One source confirmed the obvious: the event did seem tailor-made for an episode of Succession, the buzzy HBO drama.”
Variety also said: “One notable absence from the crowd that gathered for cocktails followed by a sit-down dinner was investor James Murdoch, the younger of Rupert’s two sons.
“James Murdoch has been publicly critical of aspects of his father’s empire, including Fox News and some of News Corp’s Australian newspapers and their coverage of important issues such as climate change.”
On Wednesday, the age disparity between Murdoch and Hall prompted the Times to label them an “October-December pairing”.
Hall is now 65.