Media baron Rupert Murdoch is in a relationship with Ann-Lesley Smith, 25 years his junior, less than six months after his “brutal” split from Jerry Hall, it has emerged.
The 91-year-old was pictured holidaying on a beach in Barbados with Smith, 66. The pair were also photographed holding hands at an airport.
They were reportedly being hosted in Barbados by British billionaire and JCB chairman Anthony Bamford, the Daily Mail reports.
Smith was previously married to country-western musician and business entrepreneur Chester Smith, with whom she recorded an album in 2005, titled Captured by Love. He died in 2008, aged 78.
The Independent understands that Smith and Murdoch met in November before making their debut as a couple at Christmas, when she attended a dinner at Murdoch’s home in Mayfair.
The Independent has contacted Murdoch’s representative for comment.
Murdoch’s fourth wife, actor and former supermodel Jerry Hall, was left “heartbroken” and “devastated” by the abrupt end to their marriage in 2022, with close friends suggesting his children created a rift between them.
She was waiting in the UK for Murdoch to join her when she received an email from him, telling her that the marriage was over. She is said to have told a friend: “I still love him. I am devastated.”
Tensions apparently emerged between Hall and Murdoch’s children during the pandemic, with friends saying she had assumed a “gatekeeping” role to protect him from Covid-19.
“They thought that Jerry was keeping them from him,” a friend was quoted as saying last year. “She does blame the children for souring the marriage. They had a lot to say about it and a role in his personal life, which she found a nasty surprise. Clearly, they mistrusted her.”
Murdoch has been married four times and has six children. His first marriage was to Patricia Booker, a former flight attendant from Melbourne, with whom he had one daughter, Prudence. After divorcing in 1967, Murdoch married Scottish journalist Anna Torv, with whom he shares children Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, who help to run his media empire.
Reports of Murdoch’s new relationship come after the Financial Times cited a source close to the Murdochs, who claimed a “titanic battle is raging” around the proposal to merge Murdoch’s News Corp with Fox News and TMZ, almost a decade after the companies split.
The publication examined Murdoch’s “constrained” control over the family trusts, which include newspapers, Dow Jones, Fox News, and book publisher Harper Collins.
When Murdoch left Torv in 1999 for investor and entrepreneur Wendi Deng, the divorce settlement stipulated “unbreakable terms” to hand down his wealth, with Torv demanding that his assets be placed in trusts for her children and for Prudence.
“If the kids fought hard enough, the whole thing would break down; there is no mechanism against that happening,” the FT reports Murdoch as saying in 2000.
His two children with Deng, Grace and Chloe, allegedly became the subject of a family row after he requested they be given an equal share of the trust with voting rights, but was met with resistance from Lachlan, James and Elisabeth.
Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng in 2013, marrying Hall three years later.
The Murdoch family is widely believed to be the inspiration behind HBO’s hit satirical comedy-drama series Succession, about the head of a media conglomerate fighting to maintain control over his warring family.