EXCLUSIVE: Who gets what in Rupert and Jerry’s mega deal high-stakes ‘Game of Homes’ divorce… and the Succession-style family twists and turns behind the break-up drama, by ALISON BOSHOFF
- Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and supermodel Jerry Hall finalized their divorce on Wednesday as they promise to remain good friends
- Despite signing a prenup, Hall will leave with at least two of the billionaire’s houses, according to sources familiar with the proceedings
- Among the properties up for grabs were a $200 million ranch in Montana which Murdoch has kept
- Murdoch’s adult children Prudence, 64, Elisabeth, 53, Lachlan, 50 and James, 49, allegedly weigh every twist and turn of their father’s fortune to see how it might affect them, and their inheritances
The marriage was hasty — entered into less than a year after they started dating. But, aged 59 and 84 respectively, the bride and groom were certainly old enough to know what they wanted.
And now, six years after they said ‘I do’, the divorce between supermodel Jerry Hall and billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is being conducted at equal lightning speed.
A bare six weeks after Jerry filed for divorce on the grounds of ‘irreconcilable differences’, they have reached a settlement.
A joint statement, released by the New York PR firm Rubenstein on Wednesday night, after the Mail revealed that Jerry had asked the LA courts to cancel the divorce petition, ran: ‘Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch have finalized their divorce. They remain good friends and wish each other the best for the future.’
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch (left) and supermodel Jerry Hall finalized their divorce on Wednesday as they promise to remain good friends
Jerry, now 66, exits with her dignity mostly intact and a figure said to be around £250 million, plus two houses, according to sources familiar with the proceedings.
Considering the marriage lasted only six years and three months, it appears as though her $1,000-an-hour New York lawyer Judy Poll, who has also looked after actresses Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson, struck a good deal for Jerry.
Although sources close to Rupert Murdoch said the total figure was more like £50m.
Texan Jerry, though, remains ‘very sad’ about the way things have worked out.
She has told confidantes that her love story with Murdoch was like the Shakespeare tragedy Romeo And Juliet — with the two star-crossed, albeit rather senior, lovers driven apart by their families. In this case, Rupert’s children.
It’s an arresting claim — but is there any truth in it?
MONTANA: Only seven months ago it was revealed they had purchased a $200million 340,000-acre cattle ranch in the US
HENLEY: Holmwood House, the $13 million mansion near the Thames, which they bought in November 2011
Certainly, the Murdoch clan teems with highly intelligent and competitive adult children, notably Prudence, 64, Elisabeth, 53, Lachlan, 50 and James, 49, Murdoch’s children by his first and second marriages. (His daughters by third wife Wendi Deng are 21 and 19, and too young to have a role, yet).
The popular view is that, as per the TV drama Succession, these adult children naturally weigh every twist and turn of their father’s fortune to see how it might affect them, and their inheritances. If that is the case, then they will probably be having champagne for breakfast as it can be revealed that one of Jerry’s wishes, to be given the giant $200million ranch in Montana, has been denied. It can also be revealed that she has been displaced from what all consider to be the key family property, the Moraga vineyard in Bel Air.
Moraga is the only vineyard in LA, and the estate comprises 14 acres atop the Benedict Canyon fault. The house, built in the 1920s, looks like a Tuscan farmhouse and has 11 bedrooms. Murdoch bought it for $27million in 2013.
Jerry was brought here for extended visits during their courtship and always loved it. She fully bought into the lifestyle and held court at a lavish ‘backyard BBQ’ held there in 2019 to celebrate 30 years of wine production.
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall outside St Bride’s church in London following a service to celebrate their wedding in 2016
The 91-year-old tied the knot with Hall, 65, in a low-key ceremony in London in March 2016. The couple pictured shortly after the ceremony
She even told guests that she had completed a course in viticulture because she had such a love for the place. Her former partner, Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, was incidentally among the invited guests enjoying Mrs Murdoch’s hospitality on that occasion.
Jerry listed Moraga as her address in her court filing on July 1, and was living there along with her daughter Lizzie and grandson Eugene during the winter — but Rupert Murdoch is firmly in residence now.
He was spotted, stern-faced, being chauffeur-driven in and out of Moraga this week.
In Murdoch’s corner for the divorce — and making sure that he kept his slice of paradise — was Robert S.Cohen, an impressive legal force who went into bat for Melinda Gates in her massive divorce from tech tycoon Bill Gates.
Pictured: Sons Lachlan (left) and James (right) posing with their father on his wedding day
It’s whispered in New York that he was hired on the advice of Murdoch’s son and heir apparent Lachlan, and it was suggested recently on the Daily Beast website that Lachlan has helped his father to exit this, his fourth marriage. Again, it’s not possible to be sure that this is the case, but a source says: ‘There’s no love lost between Lachlan and Jerry. Lachlan will definitely not be getting a Christmas card from Jerry this year.’
While all parties were declining to comment yesterday, I’m told that the divorce deal largely sticks with the pre-nup which the couple agreed before their wedding in London.
Jerry gets one property in the UK — the $13million house in Henley — and a house in France which was quietly bought for her about four years ago.
Rupert Murdoch got what he wanted, which was to get out — fast and clean — and keep hold of everything that he could.
He is renowned, not to say feared, as a wily operator who strikes at speed. This speedy and bloodless skirmish — leaving him with homes in America, Australia and the UK, where he keeps an apartment in the exclusive London district of St James’s — will only burnish that reputation. However, the question remains: why and when did the marriage go wrong?
Friends of Hall in the UK say that they saw the couple together in late April and May and they appeared delightfully happy.
The Daily Beast website suggests, though, that things started to fall apart last autumn.
What appears clear is that the thread which unravelled the union was Murdoch’s decision to sell up in New York.
He has a three-floor ‘Master of the Universe’-style penthouse in the One Madison building in Manhattan, plus a smaller apartment on the next floor down in the same building.
Hall has moved out of the family’s primary sprawling $150M Bel-Air home, in Los Angeles, where she was mostly recently living
The house, built in the 1920s, looks like a Tuscan farmhouse and has 11 bedrooms and a large swimming pool. Murdoch bought it for nearly $27 million in 2013
Those properties — with magnificent, 20ft glass walls giving floor-to-ceiling views of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center — went on the market in March for $78million. They are still up for sale now.
Before they could be sold there was some paperwork to sort out as the New York apartments were part of the pre- nuptial agreement.
Sources close to Jerry say that Murdoch generously offered to swap Jerry’s interest in the properties for ownership of his Montana ranch, which is more than twice as valuable — it was bought for $200million in 2021.
It’s said that some in the family weren’t happy with this.
Sources now confirm that Jerry never got the Montana ranch, and it seems that rumblings about that deal may have ultimately ended in the collapse of the marriage a few months later in June.
Beaverhead Ranch is worth bickering over: it is jaw-droppingly vast, spanning 340,000 acres and measures around 50 miles from north to south. Close to the Yellowstone National Park, it teems with cattle and was sold as a working ranch.
At the time of purchase it was the largest property deal ever done in the state. Murdoch promised that he would ‘enhance’ the commercial cattle business and the ‘conservation assets’ of the wilderness.
The home is the only is the only vineyard in LA. The estate comprises 14 acres atop the Benedict Canyon fault
The large estate also features its own tennis court located in the missive backyard of the estate
The Montana ranch was the site of several gatherings of their large, extended family.
There was perfect privacy for all in Montana, plus spectacular mountain views, 4,000 elk, 800 antelope, and a 28-mile creek teeming with trout. You can understand why Jerry, raised in Mesquite, Texas, was keen on it.
It wasn’t to be, though — and sources confirm that Jerry didn’t get the ranch in the division of property, either.
The marriage was declared over by email in June, with Murdoch telling her that from that point they should correspond only via lawyers. Jerry was stricken — professing heartbreak and saying that she was still ‘in love’ with him.
At that point she was in the UK and was planning to spend the summer here with him — at his side at his annual media party in June in London followed by the wedding of his granddaughter Charlotte Freud in Oxfordshire early in July.
Her reaction to the bombshell is fascinating. Within a week of the split becoming public knowledge Jerry had filed for divorce — in California — giving her home address as the Moraga vineyard.
And here began the ‘Game of Homes’ manoeuvring. For not only would Murdoch never countenance losing Moraga, he would also instantly grasp the message given.
For California is what is known as a ‘community property state’. This means that when two people get married, they are considered a single entity for the purpose of property ownership.
Thus, any property or assets that either buys during the marriage is considered community property — and is owned by both spouses.
Murdoch and Hall were last seen together in public in London in August 2021, when they were pictured arriving separately at a dinner (seen). They are understood to have then left together in a shared car
Including a certain $200million ranch in Montana, plus the house in Henley.
Assets bought before the marriage — including the New York apartments, the Moraga vineyard and a 25,000 acre sheep station in Australia — are not included in the common pot.
Murdoch, as the veteran of three divorces, will have been well aware of all of this, and painfully aware of how much a divorce could cost him. Wendi Deng reportedly got £380 million and her predecessor Anna, his wife for 31 years, $1.6billion in 1999.
The tycoon, whose empire includes the Sun and Times newspapers as well as Fox News in the U.S., is worth $19 billion.
Jerry received only $14.9 million from Mick Jagger after they split and you can see why, this time around, she would have been determined not to have a disadvantageous deal.
It turned out that the marriage Jerry and Jagger went through in Bali had no legal force — a nasty surprise for her — and the Rolling Stone didn’t even give her their old marital home in Richmond. Instead they remained co-owners.
Jerry Hall is now officially divorced from Rupert Murdoch. She is pictured (above) in Los Angeles in 2016
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall pictured together in California in 2019
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall attend the ‘The Quiet One’ screening at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theater
Another act which you might interpret as legal trickery was the serving of the divorce papers.
These were thrust into Rupert Murdoch’s hand as he waited to board a private jet at Brize Norton following his granddaughter’s wedding.
Process server Michael Colacicco, a former Met Police detective, did the deed and it is confirmed in writing that Murdoch was served ‘in the car park’ in a written note filed into court.
At the start of the summer, Jerry was in Henley, at the house which was bought for more than $13million. I’m told that she filed for divorce giving her address as California even though at the time she was actually there.
Elizabeth Jagger, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Keitel and Daphne Kaster pose together at a garden party in LA in 2019
A local shopkeeper said: ‘There was somebody at the property about six weeks ago. We always know when the house is being used because they will ring us and ask for newspapers to be delivered.’
But since then, according to locals, the house has been used by her son Gabriel rather than Jerry herself.
A neighbour said: ‘I don’t think she’s there. Six or nine months ago they went to California for the winter.
‘It’s her son who is living there now. With everything going on, she doesn’t have much reason to be here, I suppose.’
Friends believe she is currently in St Tropez, one of her favourite parts of the world. She has owned property in the hills above St Tropez for decades, and likes to spend August in the Med.
Around four years ago she quietly sold the house in St Tropez which she was given by Mick Jagger and bought a new, bigger and better one. ‘The old place was too small when Rupert’s family came to stay,’ she explained.
Perhaps that makes the space and freedom she is now enjoying all the sweeter.
Additional reporting by Daniel Bates