Divorce is nothing new for Rupert Murdoch, who is officially divorcing current wife Wendi Deng after 14 years.
His first divorce was from Patricia Booker, a former flight attendant from Melbourne. The pair were married for 11 years and had a daughter before their 1966 divorce, according to the International Business Times.
A year later, Murdoch married Anna Murdoch Mann (née Torv), a Scottish journalist with who he had three children.
He divorced Anna in 1999, weeks before his wedding to Wendi Deng, who he met when she was an intern at a television station owned by News Corp.
Details are still sparse on Murdoch and Deng’s separation. But the story of Murdoch’s divorce from Torv — which cost him a reported $1.7 billion — could be instructive.
First, how the pair met: Torv was 18 years old and working for Murdoch’s Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph when she had the opportunity to interview Murdoch. They fell for each other, according to Australian Women’s Weekly, and the pair were married in 1967, shortly after Murdoch split from his first wife.
Murdoch and Torv appeared to have a good, solid marriage for 31 years. They had three children together, and Torv had a career as a novelist.
So in 1998 they agreed to an “amicable” separation, first reported by New York Post columnist Liz Smith. It was so amicable that Anna remained on New Corp’s board.
However, Anna reportedly grew suspicious that Murdoch had a girlfriend. And while Murdoch insists that he did not become romantically involved with the bright and beautiful Wendi Deng until after their separation, the two married just 17 days after Torv and Murdoch’s divorce was finalised.
Six months after their separation, Murdoch reportedly forced Torv off News Corp’s board, according to Australian Women’s Weekly. “Anna’s support has been enormously helpful to me in what I must admit is a demanding and turbulent career,” Murdoch said in the News Corp annual report.
Torv formally resigned in person, and left the office to have lunch with a “charming” Wall Street financier named William Mann, her future husband.
Murdoch and Torv officially filed for divorce soon after. California, the couple’s home state, is a community-property state, meaning Anna could have walked away with half of Murdoch’s fortune, which was then valued at $7.8 billion, according to New York Magazine (Forbes estimates he’s worth $11.2 billion today).
Still, Torv is rumoured to have won $1.7 billion in assets, $110 million of which was in cash, according to ABC News. If that figure is accurate, it would have been the most expensive divorce of all time.
Both Murdoch and Torv quickly remarried after their divorce was finalised in 1999: Rupert to Wendi Deng 17 days later on a yacht, and Anna to William Mann six months later.
Torv kept quiet about the divorce for two years until 2001, when she opened up to Australian Women’s Weekly about her divorce with Murdoch, saying he had ruined the marriage by his alleged affair with then-translator Deng. “I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage,” she confessed to writer David Leser.
“Obviously we didn’t.”