The founder and CEO of Amazon attempted to divert the focus from his affair with Lauren Sanchez when the couple were outed in January 2019.
The bombshell news broke that Jeff Bezos was getting a divorce from his wife, MacKenzie, having been married for 25 years.
Just hours later, it was revealed Bezos was in a relationship with TV host and helicopter pilot, Lauren Sanchez.
There followed a tumultuous few months that involved leaked texts, photos and blackmail in billion-dollar divorce with Bezos alleging interference by the Saudi Arabian government.
Jeff Bezos, 57, said he was the victim of an unsuccessful extortion attempt by the National Enquirer Magazine published intimate texts between him and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, 51. The two are pictured together last February attending a Hollywood event and are still together
The detailed revelations have been made in a new book Amazon Unbound by Brad Stone
In a new biography, Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, author Brad Stone details how Bezos attempted to push the theory that the Middle Eastern country was behind the leaking of personal text messages and a picture of his penis.
Stone says Bezos did it to ‘shift focus away from the more unsavory and complicated truth.’
But he says, there is no ‘conclusive evidence’ to suggest that Saudi Arabia hacked Bezos, let alone tip off the National Enquirer who went on to break the salacious story.
Stone explains that the supposed selfie of Bezos’ genitals was actually ripped from a gay men’s escort website by Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez who ‘later told FBI investigators for the Southern District of New York that he never actually had an explicit photograph of Bezos in his possession.’
Bezos, left, and MacKenzie, right, announced they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage and four children in January 2019. The divorce split the company stocks, and made MacKenzie the richest woman in the world with a settlement of around $38billion
Bezos suggested in an essay written in February 2019 on Medium.com how Saudi Arabia was likely behind the National Enquirer story.
Bezos seemed to allege an unsavory connection between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer.
Bezos accused AMI of ‘extortion and blackmail,’ claiming it threatened to publish naked photos of him.
Bezos ‘took the already muddled question of how the paper obtained his private text messages and photographs and confused it further’ adding that how the story came about was ‘still to be better understood’ and that ‘the Saudi angle seems to hit a particular nerve’ with the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.
Backing up Bezos’ claim, private-security expert Gavin de Becker who is a close friend of the Amazon boss, wrote a similar piece for the Daily Beast.
‘Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details,’ de Becker wrote.
Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos attend the Amazon Prime Video celebration in January 2020
Stone wrote in the new book that Bezos’ Saudi Arabia allegations amounted to ‘only a fog of overlapping events, weak ties between disparate figures and more strange coincidences.’
Stone reveals in his book that the Enquirer was able to receive photos of Bezos from Michael Sanchez who was paid around $200,000 for the scoop.
He received pictures and texts from his sister who would allegedly ‘frequently forward’ Bezos’ text messages to him in what is described as an ‘unusual sibling relationship.’
‘For Bezos and his advisers, though, who were still trying to positively spin the embarrassing events surrounding his divorce, such a cloud of uncertainty was at the very least distracting from the more unsavory and complicated truth,’ Stone concludes in one chapter about the divorce.
He notes too that an alleged picture of Bezos’ penis was not something handed to the magazine by Michael Sanchez as he was discussing the story with AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard and editor James Robertson over FaceTime. The image is said to have simply been taken from images on a gay escort website, Rent.men.
The National Enquirer revealed the tech entrepreneur had been having an affair with Sanchez while alleging it was the reason behind his divorce
A spokesperson for Dylan Howard said, ‘The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has advised all parties that it has completed its investigation of allegations made by Jeff Bezos in February 2019, and has declined to prosecute the matter.’
‘We are glad that the government decided that Mr. Bezos’s allegations of blackmail and extortion against personnel at The National Enquirer did not merit prosecution, as we had believed it would all along.’
Emails to Amazon and de Becker have not been returned.
Michael Sanchez has previously said: ‘I would never sell out anyone.’
The tabloid and its parent company AMI claimed Sanchez’s brother Michael Sanchez was the one who leaked private texts and racy photos of the affair. The siblings are pictured together
Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent agent, was the source of the report, AMI said, but Sanchez has previously said: ‘I would never sell out anyone.’
He last month Micheal Sanchez doubled down on his claim that he didn’t leak an explicit selfie of Bezos to the National Enquirer.
His attorney told DailyMail.com that he neither served as the Enquirer’s source for the affair story, nor did he share any of the photos that backed it up.
The National Enquirer had trailed Bezos and Sanchez for months when they met up secretly, then splashed photos of them together across the magazine.
Bezos split from MacKenzie ended up being the most expensive divorce in history.
In February this year Bezos announced he would be stepping down as the CEO of Amazon, 27 years after founding it with his ex-wife and building it into one of the most successful companies of all time now worth $1.7 trillion.
Bezos announced the move in a letter to his 1.3 million Amazon employees where he insisted he isn’t retiring but wants to focus on his ‘passions’ including his space and climate change ventures.
He will be replaced by 53-year-old Andy Jassy, the current CEO of the Amazon empire cloud business Amazon Web Services (AWS) in July.