Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire chairman of News Corp., filed for divorce from his third wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, who famously defended him from a pie-hurling assailant.
A News Corp. spokesman confirmed that Murdoch, 82, initiated the divorce proceedings, without elaborating. His wife couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Ira Garr, an attorney with Garr Silpe representing Murdoch, didn’t immediately return requests for comment on the filing.
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Wendi Deng Murdoch, 37 years younger than her husband, made headlines in 2011 for physically defending him when he gave testimony at a Parliament hearing over a hacking scandal at his U.K. newspapers. She leapt up and lunged at a man who had tried to throw a pie in Murdoch’s face.
Murdoch’s divorce coincides with the breakup of his 60- year-old media empire. Earlier this week News Corp. investors approved a plan to split the company into entertainment and publishing entities. Murdoch agreed to the breakup last year under shareholder pressure to separate the slower-growth newspaper assets from its TV and movie properties.
After the June 28 split, the publishing group will inherit the News Corp. name, while the entertainment unit will be called 21st Century Fox.
The Murdochs, who have two daughters, were married in 1999, weeks after Murdoch’s divorce from his previous wife, Anna. His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1965. Two years later, he married a reporter at one of his newspapers, Anna Torv, and had three children, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, all of whom have figured prominently at one point in the workings of his company.
Murdoch’s net worth is $12.1 billion, making him the world’s 79th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Deng, 44, met Murdoch when she was a junior executive at his Star TV division in Hong Kong. Deng came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old. She attended California State University at Northridge and graduated from Yale University’s graduate business program before joining News Corp.
Her interest in film led her to produce “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which was distributed by News Corp.’s Fox Searchlight Pictures in 2011. She is a trustee of the American Film Institute and an investor in Artsy, a digital-arts startup, according to the company’s website.
Deadline Hollywood reported the divorce filing earlier today. Divorce filings aren’t available to the public under New York state law.
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