Business Insider Edition

Rupert Murdoch is worth R273 billion and has been married 4 times — here's how he went from operating a small Australian paper to helming one of the biggest networks in the world

Meira Gebel , Business Insider US
 Mar 13, 2019, 11:30 AM
Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born American newspaper publisher and entrepreneur who owns many newspapers and communications throughout the world.
Keystone/Getty Images
  • Australian-born billionaire Rupert Murdoch, 87, helms a media empire made up of newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, television networks like Fox News, and a handful of other publications across the world.
  • Murdoch inherited his very first newspaper from his father, who was a war reporter turned publisher.
  • Bloomberg estimates his net worth to be R273 billion, as of March 2019.

Rupert Murdoch's name is one synonymous with media, but it took decades to build his sprawling empire.

He owns dozens upon dozens of newspapers spanning 3 continents, founded the Fox network - responsible for revolutionising cable television to what it is today - in the 1980s, and has a net worth R273 billion. That makes him the 47th-richest person in the world.

Forbes describes his wealth as self-made, but Murdoch has been interested in media ever since his dad, Keith, left him a string of Australian newspapers when he was just 22 years old.

He then grew his network of papers into a multibillion-dollar domain, cementing his name as a magnate in the industry. The 87-year-old plans to do the same as his father - Murdoch is handing off the reigns of 21st Century Fox, among his other corporations, to his sons to continue the tradition.

Over the span of his five-decade career, Murdoch has been in four marriages and has six kids. He's also been the subject of a variety of scandals, most prominently when his UK-based paper News of the World was forced to shutter after it was found to have hacked the phone of a slain teenager.

Take a look at how Murdoch got his start, the deals he has made, and the growth of his empire.


Rupert Murdoch graduated from Oxford University, then known as Worcester College, in 1952.

David Madison / Contributor/ Getty Images

His father, Sir Keith Murdoch, a war reporter turned publisher, died the same year, and Murdoch went back to Australia to take over the family business at the age of 22.

Source: BBC News


Murdoch, seen here in 1960, inherited a chain of Australian newspapers from his father. According to Bloomberg, Murdoch embedded himself in all matters of production, from writing copy to managing the printer and redesigning page layouts.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

He especially made it a priority to include "lurid stories and scandals," which made paper sales boom. He began buying other publications, including The Daily Mirror and the Perth Sunday Times.

Source: Bloomberg


Murdoch then went on to found Australia's first nationwide newspaper, The Australian, in 1964. Unlike Murdoch's other papers, it is not a tabloid.

Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Murdoch then founded News Corporation, known as News Corp, which owns more than 170 papers in Australia.

Source: BBC News


Murdoch made his first UK purchase in 1968, buying News of the World. He would later also acquire The Sun.

Stan Meagher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


In 1981, he bought the Times Group — two papers in the UK, Sunday Times and The Times, adding them to his growing international portfolio.

Popperfoto/Getty Images

Source: BBC News


Murdoch moved to New York City in the late 70s, and bought his first US newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, though many say Murdoch came to stride in the 80s when he purchased the New York Post and New York magazine.

Rupert Murdoch during MySpace Presents Rock for Darfur Party Benefiting Oxfam America at Private Estate in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Murdoch still owns the Post today, but shed New York magazine in the early 90s along with a few other magazines.

Source: Bloomberg


In 1987, Murdoch bought what is now book publishing giant Harper Collins for R4 billion. He still owns the publishing house today.

Jemal Countess/WireImage

Source: The New York Times


It was during the 1980s that Murdoch began his Fox empire, buying stake in 20th Century Fox and subsequently creating television stations, effectively transforming cable television.

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

He bought over 50 percent of stock in the company, for over R3 billion.

Source: Bloomberg, Washington Post


In 1989, Murdoch became a naturalised US citizen.

Rupert Murdoch attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Source: Bloomberg


Murdoch has been married four times; he married his first wife, Patricia Booker, in 1956, when he was 25. The couple divorced 11 years later. Prudence, born in 1958, is Murdoch and Booker's eldest child and daughter.

Evan Agostini/Liaison

She currently serves on the board of News Corp. and her husband, Alasdair MacLeod, is a ranking executive there, too.

Source: Vanity Fair


About a year after his first marriage ended, Murdoch married Anna Torv; the couple had three children — Elisabeth, James, and Lachlan — and divorced in 1999. Elisabeth, Murdoch's second child and daughter, was born 10 years after Prudence.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Elisabeth has worked for many of her father's businesses, including News Corp. and FX, but now she is also invested in mobile-friendly video startups.

Source: The New York Times, Vanity Fair


Just 17 days after divorcing his second wife, Murdoch married Wendi Deng, whom he met while she was working at Star TV in Hong Kong, in 1999.

TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

They were married for 14 years before splitting in 2013.

Source: Business Insider


They have two teenage daughters, Grace, 16, and Chloe, 18.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Chloe Murdoch Wendi Deng M
Chloe Murdoch Wendi Deng Murdoch and Grace Murdoch attend the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Source: Business Insider


Murdoch would go on to buy social network MySpace for R8 billion in 2005, only to sell it for R502 million a few years later.

Wendi Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe of MySpace (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage for ce.com)

Source: The New York Times


Murdoch's News Corp won a bid to buy Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and others, in 2007 for R71 billion.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27, 2017: A tourist r
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

According to The Wall Street Journal, the paper is one the billionaire long coveted; some feared, at the time, that he would meddle in its editorial affairs.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Murdoch is also very close with former Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson. Murdoch made Thomson, who is also from Australia, the CEO of News Corp. in 2013.

Michael Seto/Business Insider

In 2011, The New Yorker reported Thomson was Murdoch's "closest friend," dining in restaurants frequently with one another and chatting about politics and drinking wine.

Source: Bloomberg, The New Yorker


In 2009, The Guardian published an article about illicit phone hacking conducted by News of the World into the voicemail of a British teenager who had been killed.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27, 2017: A tourist r
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The scandal went on to rock Murdoch's reputation in Britain. Years after the scandal, his attempt to buy television network British Sky Broadcasting was dropped due to public outcry.

Source: The Guardian, The New York Times


Two years later, the Murdoch family announced plans to shutter the paper after 168 of operations.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In front of lawmakers in 2011, Murdoch apologised for the phone hacking.

Source: The New York Times


In 2015, 21st Century Fox announced that Murdoch would be handing off new leadership roles to his two sons, James and Lachlan, keeping the company in the family.

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

James, 46, now holds the role as chief executive, and Lachlan, 47, is executive co-chairman. Murdoch's two sons are from his second marriage to Anna Murdoch Mann.

Source: The New York Times


Lachlan celebrated the promotion by buying a R416 million home in Aspen, Colorado, in 2017.

Realtor.com

Source: Business Insider


Murdoch himself doesn't mind living lavishly — he owns an R1 billion Gulfstream G650.

Gulfstream Aerospace

Source: Business Insider


He also bought this Bel Air mansion for R413 million in 2013.

The property was once a horse ranch and has over 6 hectares of land, 13 of which are grapevines. The residence includes a guest house and office building.

In 2017, Variety reported that Murdoch's estate was impacted by a California wildfire, but none of the buildings were burned.

Source: Variety


In 2014, Murdoch bought the top four floors in the One Madison Park building in New York City, just steps away from Madison Square Park, for R824 million. The penthouse offers vast views of Lower Manhattan and Midtown, with floor-to-ceiling windows.

David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Murdoch tried to sell the elaborate four-story apartment for R1 billion less than a year later.

Source: Curbed NY


Murdoch bought a 55-metre yacht in 2006 and named it Rosehearty, after a village home to his ancestors in Scotland. He later sold it after his divorce from Deng in 2013.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner vacationed on the boat with Murdoch's ex-wife Deng prior to her divorce from Murdoch. The yacht is complete with seven guest cabins and a Jacuzzi on the deck.

Source: Boat International, The New York Times


Murdoch and former supermodel Jerry Hall got married at St. Bride's church in London in March of 2016.

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 10: (L-R) Rupert Murdoch, ch
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall arrive at the Sun Valley Resort of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Hall is his fourth wife and was formerly involved with Mick Jagger, with whom she has four kids.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Rupert Mu
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall attends 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Art in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

The day Murdoch married Hall was also the last day he tweeted - he was formerly prolific on Twitter, and would comment on topics like politics.

Source: Business Insider


Although many of Murdoch's publications and television networks lean toward the right politically, he tried to convince former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president against Donald Trump in 2016.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


Yet, since the 2016 presidential election, Murdoch and Trump have become quite close. In 2017, The New York Times reported that Murdoch calls Trump at the White House a few times a week to chat about politics and business.

Rupert Murdoch attends the World Premiere of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie at Odeon Leicester Square. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

And during the 2016 primaries, Murdoch's publications, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, went after Trump, calling him "toast" and a "phony".

Source: The New York Times


Their relationship was not always friendly, though. When Trump was an up-and-comer in the real-estate industry, Murdoch's Page Six would often cover the saucy details of his personal life.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald
US president Donald Trump leaves with Rupert Murdoch after a tour of his International Golf Links course north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland

The two eventually became friendly as their circles drew closer together.

Source: The New York Times


Murdoch's ex-wife Deng is good friends with Trump's daughter Ivanka. Deng even played a part in getting Ivanka back with husband Jared Kushner when the two briefly broke up in 2008.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Michael Kors

Source: The New York Times,Business Insider


In 2017, Murdoch-run 21st Century Fox announced it would sell to Disney for R1 trillion.

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Disney will acquire the famed Fox Hollywood studios and various other television operations of the Murdoch family-controlled group, which is responsible for blockbusters like Avatar and series like The Simpsons.

Fox

The deal rocked Hollywood and could change the way the industry functions for decades to come.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


So what's left after the sale? A lot, actually. Lachlan Murdoch heads Fox News, the Fox Broadcasting network and the FS1 cable sports network, while Rupert himself still helms News Corporation, and the handful of newspapers it publishes.

Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times


After news of the Disney deal broke, Murdoch's net worth jumped by R17 billion. As of March 2019, it sits at R283 billion.

Rupert Murdoch during MySpace Presents Rock for Darfur Party Benefiting Oxfam America at Private Estate in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Source: Forbes


Forbes lists the Murdoch family as #39 on the most powerful families in the world; Murdoch himself is the 47th-richest person in the world.

Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Source: Forbes, Bloomberg

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