The world was shocked by the news this week that 82 year old billionaire Rupert Murdoch is divorcing his 44 year old wife, Chinese-born Wendi Deng.
Murdoch’s marriage to Deng was dogged by rumours of infidelity on her part, which have only increased since this announcement.
Jinan-born Deng met Murdoch in Hong Kong in 1997 while she was working at News Corp-owned Star TV. She reportedly charmed him with “talk about News Corp’s strategy in China” and the couple married in 1999, a mere 17 days after Murdoch divorced his second wife (to the tune of $1.7 billion).
This divorce will be Deng’s second (and Murdoch’s third). She was previously married to Jake Cherry, an American businessman who, along with his wife at the time, sponsored Deng to study English in the US. Cherry began an affair with Deng, who was 30 years his junior, and soon divorced his wife to marry her. Though the couple were legally married for almost three years, Cherry has said that they separated after four months when he discovered Deng was having an affair. In a 2000 profile of Deng, the Wall Street Journal hinted at the potential motivation for Deng’s marriage to Cherry:
Divorce records filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court show that the Cherry-Deng marriage lasted two years and seven months. That was seven months longer than what was required for Ms. Deng to obtain a “green card,” allowing her permanently to live and work in the U.S. as a resident alien.
Always subject to a degree of attention as the wife of one of the world’s most powerful media moguls, Deng came to public prominence in 2011 when she dramatically attacked a protester who threw a custard pie at Murdoch during hearings into the News of the World hacking scandal. The “bitchslap”, though much lauded by the press at the time, was perhaps indicative of a violent streak. A former nanny for Murdoch and Deng’s children said working for Deng was a “relentless nightmare“, she also said that the couple often slept apart and did not have a happy marriage.
According to reporter Amy Chozick, the divorce filings state that the Deng-Murdoch marriage had “broken down irretrievably”. A News Corp spokesperson confirmed that Murdoch had initiated the split, “Wendi has been informed”.