Murdoch, 92, is finally retiring! In mid-September, he announced that he would resign as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corporation and become honorary chairman, effective in November. His eldest son Lachlan will take over as chairman. The Murdoch family’s succession battle was adapted into a TV series called “Succession.” Murdoch knew this very well, so when he divorced his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, one of the clauses in the agreement was that he was not allowed to provide writing ideas to the “Succession” crew. The real-life succession battle is no less impressive than in American TV series. Could it be that the children of the Murdoch family are born with a love for the law of the jungle and must fight to the death? In fact, the crux lies with one person: Wendi Deng.
Method 1: Use frozen sperm to give birth to two girls.
In 1997, Wendi Deng met Bruce, the director of Murdoch News Corporation, on a flight to Hong Kong. Before the plane arrived in Hong Kong, she easily got an internship at the Star TV headquarters. Chance.
Wendi Deng’s bold, confident and unconventional style of doing things made her famous at Star TV, and even attracted the attention of the group’s chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. In early 1998, Wendi Deng publicly accompanied Murdoch as an accompanying translator for the first time. A year later, Murdoch filed for divorce from his wife of 31 years, Anna Tolford.
Murdoch made his fortune in Sydney, Australia, and “entered” the media industry in London, England, at the age of 37. In 30 years, he created tens of billions of dollars in wealth for his family. In 1967, Murdoch had an affair with Anna, a 19-year-old intern next to him, during their marriage. Later, he divorced his wife Pat and married Anna.
Anna was one of the important witnesses to Murdoch’s rise to glory and was also his most stable supporter. She gave birth to his daughter Elizabeth and sons Lachlan and James one after another. Together with Prudence, her daughter from her ex-wife Pat, Anna raised a total of four children.
After learning that her husband had cheated on her, Anna chose to turn a blind eye. However, in June 1999, Murdoch still sincerely said to Anna: “I have been deeply attracted by this smart and capable woman. I must marry her. Therefore, I must divorce you. If you have any needs, you can directly contact her.” My lawyer…”
Anna saw that the situation was over and there was no possibility of recovery, so she agreed to Murdoch’s divorce request. At this time, her marriage to Murdoch had lasted for 32 years, and according to the law, she could divide half of Murdoch’s property. However, the smart Anna gave up the property and only asked for $1.1 billion in alimony. She also asked Murdoch to divide the voting rights in the distribution of the family property to her three children and her eldest daughter Prudence. Each of the four children has one vote, and Murdoch has four votes each.
In other words, the four children have a check and balance effect on Murdoch’s decision-making. If they are not satisfied with the inheritance distribution method formulated by Murdoch, the money will not be distributed. Moreover, Anna also specifically added a harsh condition to the divorce agreement: After Murdoch’s death, Wendi Deng herself has no right to inherit any of his estate unless she can give birth to her own children after marriage.
At that time, Murdoch had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, underwent radiation therapy, and lost his fertility. Therefore, Anna is certain that Wendi Deng will not be able to reproduce Murdoch’s flesh and blood, which is also an important reason why she gave up half of Murdoch’s News Corporation property. Anna firmly believes that the Murdoch family’s property will be inherited by her three children and will never be left to others.
However, Anna still underestimated Wendi Deng. Wendi Deng was born in December 1968. Her hometown is in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. When she was a child, her family was very poor. A family of six lived in a 50-square-meter house. Fortunately, Wendi Deng’s father was an intellectual and became the director of a factory after the reform and opening up. When Wendi was 15 years old, her parents were transferred back to Guangdong to work, and her two sisters and younger brother also followed them to Guangdong, leaving only Wendi in her hometown. Because she is the one who is ignored, Wendi Deng has been extremely competitive since she was a child, eager to be better than others in all aspects.
Sure enough, Wendi Deng used high-tech “magic weapon” to create an in vitro fertilization using the frozen sperm saved by Murdoch before chemotherapy. On November 19, 2001, Wendi Deng gave birth to her and Murdoch’s eldest daughter, Grace Murdoch. On July 17, 2003, Wendi Deng gave birth to their second daughter, Chloe Murdoch, in New York.
Murdoch was naturally very happy to have a daughter at an old age despite his poor health. He hugged Chloe and announced: “All my children have the opportunity to take my place, even Grace and Chloe. Although they are very young, they enjoy the same property inheritance rights as other brothers and sisters.”
Murdo Grams also gave Wendi Deng and her two daughters shares in News Corporation, and put Wendi in charge of the Merc family’s business in Greater China. In fact, before Wendi Deng, Anna and Murdoch’s second son James had been in charge of this business.
Method 2: Wendi Deng
’s “admission” did not make Anna’s three children feel threatened. They have the constraints that their mother set on their father when they divorced, and they have become the backbone of the group. A mere woman is not their opponent in any case. What’s more important is that the three children seem to be in harmony, but in fact they seem to be in harmony with each other. None of them is willing to openly confront the woman their father loves, and they all have the mentality of sitting back and watching the fight between tigers and tigers. It wasn’t until Wendi Deng gave birth to two daughters in three consecutive years and her father publicly changed the inheritance rules for them that they began to panic.
So, while competing with the children of Murdoch’s ex-wives, Wendi Deng began to carefully train her two daughters, never allowing them to lose out to their brothers and sisters from an early age.
Wendi Deng adopts a tiger mother-style education that combines Chinese and Western education, requiring her two daughters to learn Chinese and martial arts. For this reason, she takes her daughters back to China five or six times a year. With a luxurious circle of friends, she also created the most ruthless “teacher lineup” for her daughters: the piano teacher is Li Yundi, the godfather is former British Prime Minister Blair, and Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman teach by words and deeds…the two
children Wendi Deng only gives pocket money once a month, and gives a few dollars according to her age. For example, her eldest daughter is given $8 when she is 8 years old, and her second daughter is given $6 when she is 6 years old. Even though Grace and Chloe have had a lifetime of money to spend since they were born, they still have to fight for everything from an ice cream to a birthday present.
Wendi Deng taught her two daughters: The resources of your parents only give you a larger platform, so that when you grow up, you can choose what you are most willing to do, instead of being able to stop working and enjoy life for the rest of your life. Under Wendi Deng’s education, Grace and Chloe have become better and better, and have been praised by their father Murdoch.
It is worth mentioning that Prudence, the eldest daughter of Murdoch and his first wife, is very rebellious and disobedient to discipline. She is least afraid of her father and has little interest in the family business. Moreover, she has a good relationship with everyone and remains permanently neutral.
Among the two sons and one daughter born to Murdoch and Anna, daughter Elizabeth, although she has been deeply involved in the family business for many years, fell in love with the son of a Ghanaian political prisoner and basically lost her inheritance rights. The eldest son Lachlan is the most potential heir to the family. He grew up in a wealthy area of New York and was cared for by Anna. He joined the group’s board of directors at the age of 25 and became the chairman and CEO of News Co., Ltd. the next year. He was 30 He was promoted to deputy chief operating officer of News Corp.
But the reality is that Murdoch did not clearly designate an heir. From the beginning, he divided the shares equally among the four oldest children. In other words, every child has a chance to inherit, which makes Lachlan irritable and restless. What’s more, ever since Wendi Deng forced his mother away, succeeded in taking power and gave birth to two daughters, conflicts between him and his father have occurred one after another.
In 2005, because he was dissatisfied with the shares Murdoch gave to Grace and Chloe, Lachlan quarreled with his father several times. As a result, he was suppressed and never had access to the core business, so he angrily left the family business.
Anna’s youngest son James is a natural businessman, good at marketing, and is the pride of Murdoch. But when he was studying at Harvard, James chose to major in film and history, dropped out of Harvard in 1995, and established a record company with his friends. It was not until 1999 that he returned to the family business at the instruction of his mother.
Three years later, James became CEO of British Sky Broadcasting Company, and the company’s stock price continued to rise. After his brother Lachlan left, he also assisted Murdoch in completing some acquisition projects. For this, he received high praise from his father, and the balance of power seemed to have completely shifted to James. But Wendi Deng did not give up, she chose to wait for an opportunity to act.
On July 4, 2011, with the revelation of the News of the World wiretapping scandal, Wendi Deng’s opportunity came. While accompanying Murdoch to a “British Parliamentary Committee” hearing, when he was about to answer the last question, an assailant threw a dish of shaving cream foam at the 80-year-old Murdoch.
At the critical moment, Wendi Deng flew up from beside Murdoch and slapped the attacker with her right hand in a volleyball serving posture, knocking the attacker to the ground. Wendi Deng’s heroic act of protecting her husband immediately made her the focus of the entire hearing.
After the incident, Wendi Deng’s act of standing up to protect her husband at a critical moment was published in many British media headlines. Previously, Wendi Deng was still the “mistress on top” in people’s minds, and her status was disgraceful and embarrassing. But after such a shoot, Wendi Deng stabilized her own empire, won the title of “Tiger Wife”, and became famous for a while.
This is also a game between Wendi Deng and James, because James is in charge of the “News of the World”, and the exposure of this scandal made its glory history. Murdoch gradually shifted his emotional chips to Wendi Deng, and James almost became a marginalized person in the media group. As a result, family power was shuffled again.
After James was forced to resign from the family business, he began to concentrate on investigating Wendi Deng, and soon caught her “little pigtails” and handed the evidence to his father.
Method 3: Introducing his girlfriend to influence decision-making
In 2013, Murdoch published Wendi Deng’s diary in Vanity Fair: “Blair has very long legs and great hips! Oh, damn… why do I miss him so much? He is so Charming and well-dressed. I love his blue eyes and his grace on stage…”
This is the “sensual love” diary written by Wendi Deng for the married former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the same time, Murdoch also unilaterally announced in the media that he had ended his marriage to Wendi Deng.
In fact, this is Murdoch’s style of acting. He can get rid of his married wife for Anna, and divorce Anna who gave birth to three children for him for Wendi Deng. Of course, he can also choose to abandon Wendi Deng without her knowledge. . Some media reported: When divorce becomes an established fact, no one will care who Wendi Deng is anymore, she will be a nobody. If she had been a big shot, it was only because she was married to Murdoch. But how could Wendi Deng be willing to be an unknown person?
In 2014, Murdoch brought Lachlan and James back to his side. A year later, he appointed Lachlan as executive co-chairman of “21st Century Fox” and James as CEO. The three father and son jointly governed the company.
But this seemingly harmonious cooperative relationship did not last long. Because Lachlan and James hold the same share of equity, both are expected to have the say in the family business until the last minute. Although they are from the same mother, they still cannot escape the fate of killing each other when their core interests conflict.
After calming down, Wendi Deng saw this clearly, so she began to deliberately ease the relationship with Murdoch. Not only did he participate in various activities at his two daughters’ schools with Murdoch, he also often asked his two daughters to accompany Murdoch to meals and report their results to him.
In 2016, Murdoch married supermodel Jerry Hall in London. This was his fourth marriage. Wendi Deng generously asked the sisters to be flower girls for Murdoch. Not only did she become friends with Hall, but she also allowed her two daughters to get along well with their stepmother.
In order to have more time to enjoy love, the remarried Murdoch appointed his eldest son Lachlan as the executive chairman of “21st Century Fox”. His move was interpreted by the outside world as selecting a successor. But in fact, Lachlan’s right to speak is limited. He has to win over at least one brother and sister to firmly support him to ensure that the future trend of the group can proceed according to his ideas.
Lachlan has always had a poor relationship with his family, especially with his younger brother James. Since James lost power due to the “News of the World” incident, he has chosen to stay dormant. It’s entirely possible that he worked with his two sisters who owned shares to wrest control of the group from Lachlan after his father’s death.
Although there are conflicts between Lachlan and his brother, they will still unite to exclude Wendi Deng’s two daughters when it comes to the distribution of inheritance. After Wendi Deng’s eldest daughter Grace came of age, Murdoch once again proposed to redistribute the family property, but was unanimously opposed by the other four children and had to give up.
Today, Wendi Deng’s two daughters are adults. The youngest daughter, Chloe, is 20 years old and studying at Stanford University. The eldest daughter, Grace, is 22 years old and has graduated from Yale University. She first worked as a production assistant at “Fox News” for two months and then as a news intern at the “Wall Street Journal” for two months.
Wendi Deng knows very well that Murdoch is getting older and his love life is becoming more and more unstable. If he gets married again, the distribution of the inheritance may have to be changed, and the two daughters may receive less money. But as Murdoch’s abandoned ex-wife, Wendi Deng can no longer influence his decision. So, she thought of a more appropriate way, which was to introduce him to his girlfriend. Firstly, she could get closer to Murdoch, and secondly, the people closest to Murdoch could still be under her control.
Then, Wendi Deng thought of her best friend Dasha Zhukova’s mother Elena. Elena, 66, is a retired molecular biologist who previously worked at the University of California, Los Angeles. Elena’s ex-husband is Russian oil tycoon Alexander Zhukov.
When Dasha was 10 years old, Elena divorced her ex-husband and took her daughter to live in the United States. Although Dasha is by her mother’s side, she has a good relationship with her father, Zhukov. As an adult, with her father’s help, she quickly entered his top network.
Dasha’s first marriage was to Russian oligarch and former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, and her current husband is Stavros Niarchos III, the grandson of a Greek shipping tycoon. Over the years, Dasha has become very successful in the fashion industry, and has been a partner and old friend with Wendi Deng for many years. And because of her daughter, Elena is also known to many people in the fashion circle.
Therefore, when Wendi Deng told Dasha her thoughts, she actually agreed. The two intuitively believed that Elena and Murdoch were a good match, so they worked together to facilitate this beautiful thing.
Wendi Deng’s little plan seems to be perfect, but I don’t know if the aging Murdoch will really score five goals. However, with Wendi Deng’s methods, she may have already found a way out for herself and her daughter.
In November this year, Murdoch officially stepped down as chairman of News Corporation. This succession battle seemed to be won by Lachlan, but in fact it was just halftime. Lachlan is nominally chairman, but this is only a fragile position, and the family trust has the final say. Under Wendi Deng’s instigation, the ambitions of the children of the Murdoch family were stimulated to the maximum extent. It is conceivable that after Murdoch’s death, the real battle of succession has just begun.
Murdoch’s Love History
In 1956, Murdoch met flight attendant Patricia Booker on a plane and married her despite the objections of his parents. The two had a daughter named Prudence. The marriage lasted for nine years, and Murdoch announced his divorce in 1967.
In the same year, Murdoch married 19-year-old Anna Maria Tove. After the marriage, Anna became Murdoch’s right-hand man in career. Their marriage lasted for 32 years, and they gave birth to two sons and one daughter, the eldest daughter Elizabeth, the eldest son Lachlan and the youngest son James. But the love between the two ended after Murdoch met Wendi Deng.
In 1999, 17 days after his divorce from Anna, Murdoch ushered in his third marriage to Wendi Deng. The two have been married for 14 years and have eldest daughter Grace and youngest daughter Chloe respectively. In November 2013, Murdoch unilaterally announced their divorce.
In 2016, Murdoch married 60-year-old former supermodel Jerry Hall. Due to his age, Hall did not give birth to a boy and a girl. In August 2022, the two divorced.
In September 2022, Murdoch met Smith at a wine event at Moraga Vineyards in California. On March 20, 2023, Murdoch personally selected an Asscher diamond and gave it to Smith as a diamond ring, announcing their engagement. However, Murdoch broke up with her just 18 days later.
In August 2023, Murdoch began dating his new girlfriend Elena Zhukova introduced to him by Wendi Deng.