Jeff Bezos' nudes were reportedly leaked when his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez sent them to her brother, in a new twist to the dramatic saga — here's everything we know so far

Prodip Guha/Getty Images; John Sciulli/Getty Images for PoliticonLauren Sanchez, left; Jeff Bezos, centre; and Michael Sanchez.
  • A New York Times report alleges that intimate photos leaked to the National Enquirer of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, came from messages Sanchez sent to her brother.
  • This is the latest update in the complicated saga regarding Bezos’ love life, which first gained attention after the Amazon CEO announced in January 2019 that he was getting divorced.
  • This new development comes shortly after a report indicating Bezos’ phone was likely hacked by Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in May 2018, via a link in a WhatsApp message.
  • Allegations emerged in 2019 that the National Enquirer, who broke the story of the divorce and revealed Bezos’ new relationship with Sanchez, engaged in “extortion and blackmail” by threatening to release their intimate personal texts and photos. Reports have since pointed the finger at Sanchez’s brother Michael, but Bezos also floated the possibility the Saudi government was involved.
  • Here’s what you need to know about the story surrounding the end of Jeff Bezos’ divorce, and what’s happened in the year since his relationship with Lauren Sanchez was made public.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the latest update to the saga dating back to January 2019, a new report alleges that the person behind the leaked nude photos sent between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, was Sanchez’s brother.

Michael Sanchez reportedly received $US200,000 for providing the intimates texts and pictures to the National Enquirer and giving the tabloid’s publisher exclusive rights, according to The New York Times. The story goes on to indicate that Lauren Sanchez, a former TV news anchor, actually provided her brother with the content.

The National Enquirer broke the news of the relationship between Sanchez and Bezos in January 2019, hours after the Amazon CEO announced he and his wife, Mackenzie, were planning on getting a divorce. The investigation by Bezos and his security team to discover who’s behind the leak has been ongoing, and Sanchez was an early suspect – although he repeatedly denied the allegations in exchanges with Business Insider.

However, the leak investigation also dug up an unexpected plot twist. Last week, The Guardian reported that Bezos’ phone had allegedly been hacked back in May 2018 – eight months before the National Enquirer story – likely via a file sent by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp. The Guardian report, backed by UN investigators, does not indicate Saudi Arabia is responsible for leaking the personal messages sent between Sanchez and Bezos, although Bezos previously floated the idea of a link to the Saudi government before.

Check out the complete timeline of events, tracing back to when Jeff Bezos first announced he was getting a divorce in January 2019:

On January 9, 2019, Jeff Bezos announced that he and his wife, MacKenzie, were seeking a divorce. The couple said in a statement: “As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”

Mark Wilson/Getty; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP; Skye Gould/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

The couple first met when working at the the investment management firm D.E. Shaw & Co., before Jeff Bezos even founded Amazon. They were married for 25 years, and have four kids together.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

News of the divorce raised questions about its impact on the net worth of Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world. In the end, after the divorce was settled, Jeff Bezos kept his spot as world’s richest and MacKenzie Bezos was awarded a 4% stake in Amazon valued at $US35 billion. MacKenzie gave her ex-husband voting control over her stake, and as well as her interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin.

Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty; Skye Gould/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

In response to a question about the Bezos divorce, Donald Trump told reporters he wished the Amazon CEO good luck, and said the divorce was “going to be a beauty.” He later took to Twitter to gift Jeff Bezos with a new nickname: “Jeff Bozo.”

AP Photo/Manuel Balce CenetaPresident Donald Trump

Trump has historically been highly critical of Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post. On Twitter, Trump also took aim at the Bezos-owned “lobbyist newspaper.”

Source: Business Insider

Hours after news of the Bezos divorce broke, the National Enquirer reported that Jeff Bezos has been dating a former TV host named Lauren Sanchez — and said that it had conducted a 4-month-long investigation into the affair.

Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon StudiosJeff Bezos, right, with Lauren Sanchez and her husband Patrick Whitesell.

Source: Business Insider

Sanchez, 50, works in media, and is also a licensed pilot who owns an aerial-filming company. She was married to Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of mega-influential Hollywood talent agency WME. However, the couple reportedly filed for divorce in April 2019, the day after MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos finalised the terms of their divorce.

Stefanie Keenan/WireImageLauren Sanchez.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

The National Enquirer said that its reporters had tracked Bezos and Sanchez “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.”

National EnquirerAn image shared by National Enquirer apparently showing its forthcoming front page story on Jeff Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

The National Enquirer also said it had obtained “raunchy messages and erotic selfies” exchanged between Bezos and Sanchez, including “one steamy picture too explicit to print here.” One of the texts Bezos sent to Sanchez reportedly read: “I love you, alive girl.”

Getty/AP/Business Insider compositeJeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez.

Source: Business Insider, Mashable

A Washington Post story later reported that Bezos purposely announced his divorce on Twitter as a way to preempt the National Enquirer report.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sources: Washington Post, Business Insider

On January 30, 2019, the Daily Beast reported Jeff Bezos was personally funding an investigation into who leaked his private photos and texts to the National Enquirer. The report said initial findings didn’t indicate that either Bezos’ or Sanchez’ phones were hacked.

Getty / David Ryder

Source: The Daily Beast

The investigation into the leaked text messages was headed up by Gavin de Becker, who serves as Bezos’ personal chief of security. De Becker is an expert known as the “security guru to the stars,” with previous clients including Madonna, Cher, and John Travolta.

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/APGavin de Becker speaking at the Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Memorial Service in 2017.

Source: Business Insider

De Becker told the Daily Beast he was considering the theory that the leak to the National Enquirer was “politically motivated.” AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, has repeatedly denied this.

Getty Images

Source: The Daily Beast

De Becker and investigators set their sights on Lauren Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez, who has remained a prime suspect behind the leak. Michael Sanchez is an outspoken Trump supporter who reportedly has ties to prominent allies of the president, including Roger Stone.

John Sciulli/Getty Images for PoliticonMichael Sanchez.

Source: Business Insider

The Daily Beast reported in February 2019 that “multiple sources” identified Michael Sanchez as the person responsible for leaking the texts. Sanchez repeatedly denied sharing Bezos’ “penis photos” with AMI, but dodged questions from Business Insider about whether he was responsible for sharing leaked screenshots of texts between his sister and the Amazon CEO.

Drew Angerer / Getty ImagesJeff Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

As for the notion that there are political motives at play: Jeff Bezos and President Trump have a frosty relationship — Bezos criticised Trump during the 2016 election cycle, and the Bezos-owned Washington Post has published coverage critical of Trump and his administration.

Reuters/Joshua Roberts/Susan Walsh/AP/Business Insider compositeJeff Bezos and Donald Trump.

Source: Business Insider, New York Times

The National Enquirer’s publisher, AMI, is headed up by David Pecker, who has a friendship with President Trump that dates back to the 1990s. Pecker is said to have engaged in a practice called “catch and kill” — where Pecker would help cover up any news stories that might cast Trump in an unflattering light.

Marion Curtis via AP, FileDavid Pecker in 2001.

Source: Business Insider, CNN

Besides Pecker, another AMI executive also has links to Trump. David Hughes, one of the four men who serve on AMI’s board of directors, once served as the chief financial officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts up until it filed for bankruptcy in September 2014.

Evan Vucci/AP PhotoDonald Trump.

Source: Business Insider, American Media Inc.

Then on February 7, 2019, Bezos took everyone by surprise by publishing a blog post that accused Pecker and AMI of “extortion and blackmail.” Bezos claimed AMI threatened to release the intimate photos it had acquired unless he agreed to stop investigating the leaks and made a public statement denying the leaks were politically motivated — two things he said he refused to do.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Source: Medium, Business Insider

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption,” Bezos wrote in his defiant blog post.

Cliff Owen/AP

Source: Business Insider

Bezos also appeared to include copies of the emails that had been sent to him by lawyers representing AMI. One of those lawyers, deputy general counsel Jon Fine, previously worked at Amazon. Fine’s LinkedIn profile says he worked there from 2006 until 2015, primarily in publishing and marketing the Kindle reader.

Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty ImagesJon Fine, the former Amazon exec who’s now a lawyer for the National Enquirer.

Source: Business Insider

In the wake of the blog post, federal prosecutors were reportedly reviewing Bezos’ claims of extortion. If AMI is found to have broken any sort of law in the actions it took against Bezos, the company would be in violation of an agreement it made with prosecutors in a separate matter during the 2016 presidential campaign. AMI had admitted to paying off a woman ahead of the election who alleged she had an affair with Donald Trump.

Marion Curtis via AP, Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty ImagesDavid Pecker and Jeff Bezos.

Sources: New York Times, Business Insider

Bezos also hinted in his blog post that there may be ties between the National Enquirer’s investigation into his personal life and the Saudi government. Bezos highlighted Pecker’s reported personal ties to the Saudis, and wrote that “the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with Pecker.

Getty/Chip SomodevillaJeff Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, worked for the Bezos-owned Washington Post — leading some to speculate that the Saudis were somehow involved with the National Enquirer investigation, especially given Bezos’ blog post.

Hasan Jamali/APSaudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Source: Business Insider

The Saudi minister of foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, has denied that the country had any role in the feud between Bezos and AMI. He told CBS the whole situation sounded like “a soap opera.”

Reuters/Kevin LamarqueSaudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Source: Business Insider

Response on social media to Bezos’ blog post was generally positive. People on Twitter praised Bezos for demonstrating “raw power” and “accepting personal responsibility” by standing up to alleged blackmail, even at the risk of his intimate photos getting out into the world.^tfw

Source: Business Insider

In the wake of Bezos’ blog post, several journalists — including New Yorker contributor Ronan Farrow — came forward with their own claims that AMI tried to threaten them into stopping their reporting. Actor Terry Crews also later came forward to say AMI had tried to “silent” him in 2017 with fake stories.

(Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources)Journalist Ronan Farrow.

Source: Business Insider

AMI said in a statement that it believes it “acted lawfully” and “in good faith” in its reporting on Bezos and Sanchez. However, AMI also said its board of directors would thoroughly investigate Bezos’ claims and would take “whatever appropriate action is necessary” upon its findings. Pecker serves as chairman of the board.

Source: Business Insider

In an appearance on ABC, Pecker’s lawyer Elkan Abramowitz defended the company’s actions. He said that “politics have nothing to do” with AMI’s threats against Bezos to release his nude photos. He also denied that either Saudi Arabia or the White House were involved in AMI’s stories on Bezos, calling the claim “libel.”

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty ImagesElkan Abramowitz, attorney for AMI’s chairman David Pecker.

Source: Business Insider

On March 30, 2019, Bezos’ chief security consultant Gavin de Becker wrote in The Daily Beast that from his investigation, he could conclude that the Saudi government had hacked Bezos’ phone and gained access to his private information.

Source: The Daily Beast

De Becker wrote that Bezos had been subject to numerous threats by the Saudis since October 2018, when the Washington Post reported its columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents.

Hasan Jamali/AP; Virginia Mayo/AP; Andrew Harnik/APA composite image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and US President Donald Trump.

Source: The Daily Beast

AMI and Saudi Arabia have reportedly denied any connections, but relationships within the White House, Saudi Arabia, and the tabloid involving figures like Pecker suggest there could be more revelations to come.

In August 2019, Michael Sanchez appeared on Fox News to talk about the affair between his sister and Bezos. In his first TV interview about his involvement, Sanchez said that Bezos came to him for help managing the press because he didn’t think Amazon’s PR team was “equipped” to deal with it. He also again denied any involvement in leaking Bezos’ photos.

Fox NewsMichael Sanchez.

Source: Business Insider

Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into Bezos’ claims of blackmail against AMI, Fox News reported. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York reportedly convened a grand jury to take testimony on the incident, although nothing from the investigation has since been made public.

AP Photo/Lefteris PitarakisJeff Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

Despite the drama, the relationship between Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez has continued to flourish. The couple has been spotted together at the men’s Wimbledon final, on a lavish European vacation, and aboard a sailing yacht belonging to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.

Adrian Dennis/ReutersJeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez attend the men’s Wimbledon finals.

Source: Business Insider, Page Six

Meanwhile, both Bezos and Sanchez were going through divorce proceedings with their former spouses. Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos’ divorce was finalised in July 2019, while the divorce of Sanchez and Patrick Whitesell was reportedly finalised in October.

AP PhotoPatrick Whitesell and Lauren Sanchez.

Source: Business Insider, People

Bezos reportedly threw Sanchez a lavish 50th birthday celebration in December 2019 that included two events: an intimate dinner with family, and a party attended by big name celebrities such as Timothée Chalamet, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, and record executive Scooter Braun.

Simon Stacpoole/Offside / Contributor

Source: Page Six

The newest development: In January, the Guardian reported that Bezos’ phone had been hacked, likely via a file sent via Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s WhatsApp account. The alleged hack apparently went down in May 2018 — well before the National Enquirer published its story about Bezos’ personal life.


UN investigators backed The Guardian’s report the following day, saying with “reasonable certainty” that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in hacking Bezos’ phone. The UN also called for an “immediate investigation” into Crown Prince Mohammed.

Source: The Guardian

The Guardian reported that this was discovered during the course of a UN investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, adding fuel to security consultant Gavin de Becker’s theory that the hack was politically motivated.

Associated Press/Virginia Mayo; Nicolas Asfouri – Pool/GettyLeft: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Right: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi US embassy responded to allegations of the hacking by calling them “absurd” in a tweet.

Source: The Guardian

However, a new report from the New York Times casts more doubt on the claim that Saudi Arabia was responsible for the leaked photos and messages between Bezos and Sanchez to the National Enquirer. The Times says Sanchez sent the nude photos and texts to her brother, Michael, who received $US200,000 for signing a contract giving the Enquirer’s publisher exclusive rights to the content.

John Sciulli/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business InsiderMichael Sanchez, left, and Jeff Bezos.

Source: New York Times

AMI continues to deny its Bezos reporting involved anyone aside from Michael Sanchez. “The single source of our reporting has been well documented,” American Media told The New York Times. “In September of 2018, Michael Sanchez began providing all materials and information to our reporters. Any suggestion that a third party was involved in or in any way influenced our reporting is false.”

Stephanie Keith/Getty ImagesA New York Post cover shows a headline related to Bezos’ blogpost about Pecker in February 2019.

Source: The New York Times

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.