I repossess private yachts worth up to $20 million when owners default on their loans. Here’s what happens when I track them down.

Ken Cage and a 120-foot yacht that he repossessed.
Ken Cage has been a high-asset repo man for over a decade.

  • Ken Cage repossesses high-end luxury assets like yachts and jets whose owners have failed to pay their loans.
  • Since 2005, Cage’s team has repossessed 2,000 boats, some of which are worth as much as $20 million.
  • Here’s what his job is like, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I first met my buddy Bob Weeks when we were 10 years old, growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Now, almost five decades later, we’re in business together repossessing yachts and private jets from all over the country.

It’s our job to chase down expensive assets from people who have defaulted on their bank loans. At the end of the day, we’re a bank’s last resort. When the bank calls me and issues a repo contract, it means they’ve exhausted all of their internal efforts – their automated reminders, follow-up phone calls, past due letters, and administrative attempts to be paid back have been largely ignored by the borrower.

I usually come in around 60 to 65 days after the ‘past-due’ marker.

Ken Cage yacht repo
A 90-foot yacht from one of Cage’s repos.

Once my repo team gets involved, it’s time to kick things up a notch. My job is to retrieve the collateral any way I can, service it, sell it to a third party, and recoup the cash for the bank. My company only charges between $400 and $1,000 for the actual recovery; our real payday comes from the sale of the asset itself. The standard yacht broker commission is 10% but the rate decreases as the value of the yacht goes up, and we negotiate on a case-by-case basis with our clients.

Since Bob and I bought an existing repo company based in Florida in 2005, we’ve repossessed 2,000 boats and sold off more than half of them, ranging from a $1,000 1975 Trojan 32′ to a $20 million Benetti 160’+.

Most of the time when the bank gives us a repo contract, they provide very few details.

Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat. Ken Cage
Pulling lines away from the dock to repossess a boat.

We usually get the debtor’s name and last known address, and the year, make, and model of the boat along with the Hull ID or VIN number. The rest is up to us.

Banks can also simultaneously open the repo contract up to multiple repo companies, making our job even more challenging because then it becomes a race to see who can find the asset and repo it first.

This happened to me and my partner, Danny Thompson, when we were on the Discovery Channel show Airplane Repo in 2014. We were repossessing a $3 million custom-built yacht when another repo crew showed up and began towing the boat with us on it. Danny managed to cut the tow line and I drove the boat away, leaving the other repo guys in our wake. That job alone earned us $300,000 commission.

For each repo, we begin with an online search of state registries. We also check the US Coast Guard history which provides the chain of ownership and any name changes for the yachts. Then we start making calls. Sometimes, we’re able to locate a boat with just one call thanks to local spotters around the country keeping an eye out for us.

At the end of the day, I’m not here to embarrass anyone – I’m just here to recover the bank’s assets.

Ken Cage Azimut yacht.
A repo’d Azimut yacht.

When I do come face to face with a debtor, I always tell them no one has to know why I’m here. For all I care, they can tell onlookers I’m buying their boat from them and they’re ripping me off. If they cooperate, they can save face. It’s all about tapping into their ego. One guy even helped me by hooking up his own boat for me to repo so he didn’t look bad.

Often, deep down debtors are just relieved it’s all over; they know it’s just a matter of time until we catch up with them. But there are the belligerent types who will put up a fight. I had one guy in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Area who chained the propeller of his boat to the dock in the hopes of causing damage to it, as one last shot at the bank.

Over the years, I’ve been in high speed chases on sea and land and dodged booby traps set up by angry debtors.

Ken Cage yacht repo
Cage transporting a repo’d yacht and riding a Jetski in search of another yacht.

I’ve dealt with professional athletes twice my size looking to fight me, a drunk wielding a shovel at my head, being shot at, you name it.

Even though I’m surrounded by boats, I’ve never owned one because I didn’t have the time to enjoy it. Between 2005 and 2012, I was on the road about 250 days a year. But now that my four kids are older, we’re looking into getting a 24′-30′ fun family boat. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll pay for it in cash.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, have weathered a tabloid scandal, family drama, and a possibly even a hack by foreign operatives. Here’s where their relationship began and everything that’s happened since.

Jeff Bezos/Lauren Sanchez
Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez.

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were publicly outed as a couple in January 2019.
  • Since then they have both finalized their divorces and embarked on a whirlwind romance.
  • Bezos has announced that he’ll step down as Amazon CEO in the third quarter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s been a turbulent two years for Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

In January 2019, the bombshell news broke that the Amazon CEO and his wife, MacKenzie, were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage. Hours later, we learned that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a TV host and helicopter pilot who, along with her husband, had been friends with the Bezoses.

Despite a tumultuous few months that involved leaked texts, blackmail, a billion-dollar divorce, and maybe even interference from the Saudi Arabian government, Bezos and Sanchez are still going strong.

Now, Bezos has announced that he’s stepping down as Amazon CEO to become executive chairman and will hand the reins over to AWS CEO Andy Jassy.

Here’s how their relationship became public and how they’ve spent the last two years as a couple.

It all started on January 9, 2019. Shortly after 9 a.m., Jeff and his wife, MacKenzie, issued a joint statement on Twitter that they were divorcing.

Jeff Bezos MacKenzie Bezos
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos.

“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the statement read. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

MacKenzie is one of Amazon’s earliest employees. The couple has four children together. 

Hours later, a second bombshell dropped: Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez.

Lauren Sanchez
Lauren Sanchez.

Sanchez started her career as a news reporter and anchor — she was a longtime anchor of “Good Day LA” on Fox 11 and worked as a correspondent on “Extra.” 

More recently, she’s worked as a helicopter pilot and founded her own aerial filming company in 2016 called Black Ops Aviation. 

Sanchez has also had TV and film roles, including as the host of the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” and playing an anchor in movies like “Fight Club” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” according to her IMDB page

Bezos and Sanchez met through her then-husband, Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of WME, a Hollywood talent agency.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez Patrick Whitesell
Jeff Bezos, right, with Lauren Sanchez and her then-husband, Patrick Whitesell.

Sanchez and Whitesell had been married since 2005, but at the time the news broke, the couple had been separated since that fall, according to Page Six

According to Brad Stone’s book “Amazon Unbound,” Sanchez and Bezos reconnected at an Amazon Studios party for the film “Manchester by the Sea” in 2016, though it’s unclear when their romance began. 

In March 2018, Sanchez was invited to Amazon’s annual MARS conference in Palm Springs. One month later, they had dinner with Sanchez’s brother, Michael, in Los Angeles.

That July, Bezos hired Sanchez’s company to film footage for his rocket company, Blue Origin.

The National Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and had obtained texts and photos the couple had sent to each other.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos.

The Enquirer said it had tracked the couple “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.” 

Page Six, which published the news a few hours before the Enquirer, reported that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos knew that the Enquirer report was coming out and had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the news.

The gossip site also reported at the time that Bezos and Sanchez started dating after Jeff and MacKenzie had separated the previous fall, and that MacKenzie knew of the relationship. 

The Enquirer said it had gotten its hands on “raunchy messages” and “erotic selfies,” including a text that reportedly read: “I love you, alive girl.”

FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin's space exploration plans in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin’s space exploration plans in Washington

The tabloid said it also had racy photos of Bezos, including one that was too explicit to print.

But according to Stone’s book, the tabloid never actually had a “below-the-belt selfie” of Bezos — it was a photo of someone else Michael Sanchez took from a male escort website and showed to the tabloid over FaceTime.

Almost immediately, questions arose about the Enquirer’s motives for investigating Bezos and Sanchez and the tabloid’s connection to President Trump.

david pecker
David Pecker, CEO of AMI.

A feud has simmered for years between Trump and Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a frequent Trump target. The Enquirer’s publisher, AMI, is run by David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally. 

By the end of January, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos was funding an investigation into who had leaked his private messages to the Enquirer. Bezos’ personal head of security, Gavin de Becker, headed up the investigation. De Becker said at the time that he thought the leaks were “politically motivated,” which AMI denied

The investigation initially pointed to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and an outspoken Trump supporter, as the person who leaked the photos and texts, which Sanchez denied

Then, in February, Bezos dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” in which he accused Pecker and AMI of trying to blackmail him.

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Bezos wrote that the publisher had been threatening him with the publication of explicit photos he’d taken of himself unless he stopped investigating who was leaking his photos and texts to the tabloid.

AMI also demanded that Bezos no longer claim the publisher’s investigation into his personal life was influenced by political motivations, Bezos wrote. 

As a result, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos also hinted in the post that there may have been a link between the investigation into his relationship with Sanchez and the Saudi Arabian government — specifically, that he might have been a target of the Saudis because he owns the Washington Post, which provided “unrelenting coverage,” Bezos said, of the murder of its journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents. The “Saudi angle” of Bezos’ own investigation into the leaks seemed to have “hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with Pecker, Bezos wrote. 

For its part, the Saudi Arabian government denied any role in the situation and called the whole saga a “soap opera.” 

Things quieted down for Bezos and Sanchez publicly for a few months, until April 2019, when Jeff and MacKenzie finalized the terms of their divorce.

jeff bezos mackenzie bezos
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos both released statements on Twitter saying they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage and would be co-parenting their four kids.

MacKenzie said she was granting Jeff all her interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, as well as 75% of the Amazon stock they owned and voting control over the shares she retained. Her remaining stake in Amazon is estimated to be worth about $38 billion, placing her among the richest women in the world, according to Forbes.

One day later, Sanchez and Whitesell filed for divorce.

patrick whitesell lauren sanchez
Patrick Whitesell and Lauren Sanchez.

TMZ reported at the time that the couple asked for joint custody of their two children. The couple reportedly finalized their divorce in October 2019. 

The Bezos divorce was finalized in July. A few days later, Bezos and Sanchez made their first public appearance as a couple at Wimbledon.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos
Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos.

The couple were seated behind the royals at the men’s Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the All England Club. 

A few months prior to Wimbledon, the couple had attended another exclusive event: the annual Allen & Company conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. There, they mingled with Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, and Mark Zuckerberg, according to Stone’s book.

The pair was spotted again in August on what appeared to be a fabulous European vacation: They were seen strolling through Saint-Tropez and cruising off the coast of Spain, in the Balearic Islands, aboard media mogul David Geffen’s superyacht, the Rising Sun.

rising sun super yacht
The Rising Sun.

Other guests reportedly included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the founder of Thrive Capital, Josh Kushner, along with his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss. 

Bezos and Sanchez were then seen on fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht off the coast of Italy. The couple appears to be close friends with von Furstenberg and her husband, IAC Chairman Barry Diller.

Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos
Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos pose at the the opening of the Statue of Liberty Museum opening on May 15, 2019.

Source: Page Six

In December, Bezos reportedly threw Sanchez an elaborate 50th birthday celebration that included both a private dinner and a star-studded party attended by von Furstenberg and Diller, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Timothée Chalamet.

Katy Perry Orlando Bloom
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.

Source: Page Six

Around the holidays, the couple jetted off to French-speaking Caribbean island St. Barths, relaxing on yachts and meandering around the island with Sanchez’s son, Nikko Gonzalez.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos

Source: The Cut

In January, Sanchez accompanied Bezos on a trip to India.

jeff bezos lauren sanchez
Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez in India on January 16, 2020.

Sanchez attended Bezos’ visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb and walked the red carpet with Bezos at an Amazon Prime Video event in Mumbai. 

A few weeks later, Sanchez traveled with Bezos to another international event — this time, a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France. 

Beginning in February 2020, Bezos was embroiled in a legal spat with Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez’s brother.

michael sanchez bezos 4x3

Sanchez filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos in February, claiming Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, falsely accused him of providing Bezos’ nude photos to the National Enquirer. Sanchez claimed in the suit that Bezos told journalists he had handed over the images to the tabloid, but he says he never had the photos in his possession. 

Bezos said in a court filing of his own that the suit amounted to “extortion” and directly threatened free speech. Bezos sought to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit under a California law that’s intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits. 

A judge has since tossed Sanchez’s defamation suit, citing a lack of evidence. The judge later ordered Sanchez to pay $218,000 in legal fees for Bezos.

In the lawsuit, Sanchez used the word “fiancé” to describe Bezos’ relationship to Lauren Sanchez, implying that the couple is engaged.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez
Bezos and Sanchez outside the Taj Mahal in January.

Here’s the full sentence from the lawsuit (emphasis ours):

“While Mr. de Becker’s initial asserted theory was that Mr. Sanchez had sold out his sister for $200,000, Mr. de Becker soon realized this theory would not hold up because, among other reasons, it was inconceivable that Mr. Sanchez would ruin his relationship with his sister and her current fiancé, the richest man in the world, for financial gain.”

Bezos isn’t described as Sanchez’s fiancé anywhere else in the suit, and Bezos and Sanchez have never confirmed that they’re engaged. In December, Page Six published photos of the couple on vacation, noting that Sanchez was wearing a large diamond ring on her right hand (engagement rings are worn on the left hand). 

At the time lawyers for Michael Sanchez said in a statement, “Michael’s complaint speaks for itself.” Representatives for Bezos and Sanchez did not respond to requests for comment.

News broke in February 2020 that Bezos had reportedly purchased the Warner estate, a massive Beverly Hills compound, for $165 million. The purchase was the most expensive home sale in California history.

Jeff Bezos Warner estate Beverly Hills
The Warner estate in Beverly Hills.

Prior to the sale, The New York Post reported that Bezos and Sanchez had been house-hunting in Los Angeles and touring mansions throughout the area for weeks.

The Warner estate was built by Hollywood mogul and Warner Bros. cofounder Jack Warner in 1937. It spans eight acres and is situated in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood of Beverly Hills. It’s an incredibly private property that’s surrounded by tall hedges, blocked off by a large gate, and completely hidden from view from the street.

The compound is home to multiple dwellings, including two guesthouses and a 13,600-square-foot mansion. The estate also features a pool, tennis court, and manicured gardens, as well as a nine-hole golf course and a “motor court” with its own garage and gas pumps, according to Architectural Digest

Then, in July, Bezos appeared to make another purchase, this time right next door: a $10 million home that shares a hedge line with the Warner estate. According to property records viewed by both Variety and Daily Mail, Bezos is the new owner of the 1930s-era home on a side street in Beverly Hills’ Benedict Canyon neighborhood. 

In February 2021, Bezos announced that he’ll step down as CEO of Amazon in the third quarter. Andy Jassy, the CEO of AWS, will take his place.

Andy Jassy Jeff Bezos
Andy Jassy, left, and Jeff Bezos.

Source: Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeff Bezos is building a gigantic luxury yacht that’s expected to be one of the best in the world – and he’s adding a ‘support yacht’ with its own helipad

Jeff bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Jeff Bezos is building a 127-meter luxury mega-yacht, according to a new book.
  • He is also adding a second, “support yacht” that has its own helipad.
  • Bezos hasn’t owned a ship in the past, but he’s displayed a fondness for yacht travel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos may soon be sailing the high seas in his very own mega-yacht.

The Amazon CEO has commissioned a 127-meter custom yacht from the Dutch shipbuilder Oceanco, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone’s forthcoming book, “Amazon Unbound,” that was published in Bloomberg Businessweek on Wednesday.

The three-mast ship is expected to be “one of the finest sailing yachts in existence,” but other details about the yacht are unknown, even among those in the exclusive luxury boat world, Stone reports.

In addition to the mega-yacht, Bezos has reportedly commissioned a second, smaller, “support yacht” that will include its own helipad. Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, is a helicopter pilot and Stone reports that Bezos has taken flying lessons as well.

A representative for Bezos did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Jeff Bezos responds to employee question about his resignation as CEO, says Amazon can ‘out-survive any individual in the company, including, of course, myself’

While massive yachts are often an accessory of the mega-rich, Bezos, who is the richest person in the world with a fortune worth $193 billion, hasn’t previously had a boat of his own. A viral photo in 2019 claimed Bezos was the owner of a $400 million yacht known as the Flying Fox. Amazon denied that the ship belonged to Bezos.

Regardless, Bezos does appear to have a fondness for yacht travel. Throughout the summer of 2019, he and Sanchez were spotted aboard a yacht belonging to entertainment mogul David Geffen, and then a yacht owned by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Earlier this year, the couple was spotted aboard another yacht in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Bezos announced in February that he plans to step down as Amazon’s CEO in the third quarter of 2021 – Andy Jassy, the CEO of AWS, will take his place. Bezos said at the time that while he plans to stay involved in important initiatives at Amazon as its executive chairman, his goal is to spend more time on philanthropy – including the Bezos Earth Fund and his Day One Fund – as well as his two other major endeavors: The Washington Post, which he purchased 2013, and his rocket company, Blue Origin.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, have weathered a tabloid scandal, a lawsuit, and maybe even interference from a foreign government. Here’s where their relationship began and everything that’s happened since.

Jeff Bezos/Lauren Sanchez
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

  • In January 2019, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were publicly outed as a couple the same day Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their divorce.  
  • The National Enquirer had been investigating Bezos and Sanchez for months and had obtained leaked photos and texts the couple had sent, including the now-famous message where Bezos called Sanchez “alive girl.” 
  • In the 18 months since, both Bezos and Sanchez have finalized their respective divorces and have embarked on a whirlwind romance that’s taken them from Wimbledon to a yacht in St. Barths to the Taj Mahal. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s been a turbulent two years for Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. 

In January 2019, the bombshell news broke that the Amazon CEO and his wife, MacKenzie, were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage. Hours later, we learned that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a TV host and helicopter pilot who, along with her husband, had been friends with the Bezoses. 

Despite a tumultuous few months that involved leaked texts, blackmail, a billion-dollar divorce, and maybe even interference from the Saudi Arabian government, Bezos and Sanchez are still going strong.  

Here’s how their relationship became public and how they’ve spent the 23 months as a couple. 

It all started on January 9, 2019. Shortly after 9 a.m., Jeff and his wife, MacKenzie, issued a joint statement on Twitter that they were divorcing.

Jeff Bezos MacKenzie Bezos
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos.

“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the statement read. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

MacKenzie is one of Amazon’s earliest employees. The couple has four children together. 

A mere few hours later, a second bombshell dropped: Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez.

Lauren Sanchez
Lauren Sanchez.

Sanchez started her career as a news reporter and anchor — she was a longtime anchor of “Good Day LA” on Fox 11 and worked as a correspondent on “Extra.” 

More recently, she’s worked as a helicopter pilot and founded her own aerial filming company in 2016 called Black Ops Aviation. Bezos has hired Sanchez’s company to film footage for his rocket company, Blue Origin. 

Sanchez has also had TV and film roles, including as the host of the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” and playing an anchor in movies like “Fight Club” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” according to her IMDB page

At the time, Sanchez was married to Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of WME, a Hollywood talent agency.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez Patrick Whitesell
Jeff Bezos, right, with Lauren Sanchez and her then-husband, Patrick Whitesell.

Sanchez and Whitesell had been married since 2005, but at the time the news broke, the couple had been separated since the fall, according to Page Six

The couple was friends with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos because they had houses near each other in Seattle, Page Six reported. 

The National Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and had obtained texts and photos the couple had sent to each other.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos.

The Enquirer said it had tracked the couple “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.” 

Page Six, which published the news a few hours before the Enquirer, reported that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos knew that the Enquirer report was coming out and had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the news.

The gossip site also reported at the time that Bezos and Sanchez started dating after Jeff and MacKenzie had separated the previous fall, and that MacKenzie knew of the relationship. 

The Enquirer said it had gotten its hands on “raunchy messages” and “erotic selfies,” including a text that reportedly read: “I love you, alive girl.” The tabloid said it also had racy photos of both Bezos and Sanchez, including one that was too explicit to print.

FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin's space exploration plans in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin’s space exploration plans in Washington

Source: Business Insider

Almost immediately, questions arose about the Enquirer’s motives for investigating Bezos and Sanchez and the tabloid’s connection to President Trump.

david pecker
David Pecker, CEO of AMI.

A feud has simmered for years between Trump and Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a frequent Trump target. The Enquirer’s publisher, AMI, is run by David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally. 

By the end of January, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos was funding an investigation into who had leaked his private messages to the Enquirer. Bezos’ personal head of security, Gavin de Becker, headed up the investigation. De Becker said at the time that he thought the leaks were “politically motivated,” which AMI denied

The investigation initially pointed to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and an outspoken Trump supporter, as the person who leaked the photos and texts, which Sanchez denied

Then, in February, Bezos dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” in which he accused Pecker and AMI of trying to blackmail him.

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Bezos wrote that the publisher had been threatening him with the publication of explicit photos he’d taken of himself unless he stopped investigating who was leaking his photos and texts to the tabloid.

AMI also demanded that Bezos no longer claim the publisher’s investigation into his personal life was influenced by political motivations, Bezos wrote. 

As a result, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos also hinted in the post that there may have been a link between the investigation into his relationship with Sanchez and the Saudi Arabian government — specifically, that he might have been a target of the Saudis because he owns the Washington Post, which provided “unrelenting coverage,” Bezos said, of the murder of its journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents. The “Saudi angle” of Bezos’ own investigation into the leaks seemed to have “hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with Pecker, Bezos wrote. 

For its part, the Saudi Arabian government denied any role in the situation and called the whole saga a “soap opera.” 

Things quieted down for Bezos and Sanchez publicly for a few months, until April, when Jeff and MacKenzie finalized the terms of their divorce.

jeff bezos mackenzie bezos
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos both released statements on Twitter saying they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage and would be co-parenting their four kids.

MacKenzie said she was granting Jeff all her interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, as well as 75% of the Amazon stock they owned and voting control over the shares she retained. Her remaining stake in Amazon is estimated to be worth about $38 billion, placing her among the richest women in the world, according to Forbes.

One day later, Sanchez and Whitesell filed for divorce.

patrick whitesell lauren sanchez
Patrick Whitesell and Lauren Sanchez.

TMZ reported at the time that the couple asked for joint custody of their two children. The couple reportedly finalized their divorce in October. 

The Bezos divorce was finalized in July. A few days later, Bezos and Sanchez made their first public appearance as a couple at Wimbledon.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos
Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos.

The couple was seated behind the royals at the men’s Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the All England Club. 

The pair was spotted again in August on what appeared to be a fabulous European vacation: They were seen strolling through Saint-Tropez and cruising off the coast of Spain, in the Balearic Islands, aboard media mogul David Geffen’s superyacht, the Rising Sun.

rising sun super yacht
The Rising Sun.

Other guests reportedly included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the founder of Thrive Capital, Josh Kushner, along with his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss. (The group was pictured in an Instagram post that has since been deleted.)

Bezos and Sanchez were then seen on fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht off the coast of Italy. The couple appears to be close friends with von Furstenberg and her husband, IAC Chairman Barry Diller.

Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos
Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos pose at the the opening of the Statue of Liberty Museum opening on May 15, 2019.

Source: Page Six

In December, Bezos reportedly threw Sanchez an elaborate 50th birthday celebration that included both a private dinner and a star-studded party attended by von Furstenberg and Diller, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Timothée Chalamet.

Katy Perry Orlando Bloom
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.

Source: Page Six

Around the holidays, the couple jetted off to French-speaking Caribbean island St. Barths, relaxing on yachts and meandering around the island with Sanchez’s son, Nikko Gonzalez.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos

Source: The Cut

In January, Sanchez accompanied Bezos on a trip to India.

jeff bezos lauren sanchez
Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez in India on January 16, 2020.

Sanchez attended Bezos’ visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb and walked the red carpet with Bezos at an Amazon Prime Video event in Mumbai. 

A few weeks later, Sanchez traveled with Bezos to another international event — this time, a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France. 

Since February, Bezos has been embroiled in a legal spat with Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez’s brother.

michael sanchez bezos 4x3

Sanchez filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos in February, claiming Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, falsely accused him of providing Bezos’ nude photos to the National Enquirer. Sanchez claimed in the suit that Bezos told journalists he had handed over the images to the tabloid, but he says he never had the photos in his possession. 

Bezos said in a court filing of his own that the suit amounted to “extortion” and directly threatened free speech. Bezos sought to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit under a California law that’s intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits. 

A judge has since tossed Sanchez’s defamation suit, citing a lack of evidence. 

In the lawsuit, Sanchez used the word “fiancé” to describe Bezos’ relationship to Lauren Sanchez, implying that the couple is engaged.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez
Bezos and Sanchez outside the Taj Mahal in January.

Here’s the full sentence from the lawsuit (emphasis ours):

“While Mr. de Becker’s initial asserted theory was that Mr. Sanchez had sold out his sister for $200,000, Mr. de Becker soon realized this theory would not hold up because, among other reasons, it was inconceivable that Mr. Sanchez would ruin his relationship with his sister and her current fiancé, the richest man in the world, for financial gain.”

Bezos isn’t described as Sanchez’s fiancé anywhere else in the suit, and Bezos and Sanchez have never confirmed that they’re engaged. In December, Page Six published photos of the couple on vacation, noting that Sanchez was wearing a large diamond ring on her right hand (engagement rings are worn on the left hand). 

At the time lawyers for Michael Sanchez said in a statement, “Michael’s complaint speaks for itself.” Representatives for Bezos and Sanchez did not respond to requests for comment.

News broke in February that Bezos had reportedly purchased the Warner estate, a massive Beverly Hills compound, for $165 million. The purchase was the most expensive home sale in California history.

Jeff Bezos Warner estate Beverly Hills
The Warner estate in Beverly Hills.

Prior to the sale, The New York Post reported that Bezos and Sanchez had been house-hunting in Los Angeles and touring mansions throughout the area for weeks.

The Warner estate was built by Hollywood mogul and Warner Bros. cofounder Jack Warner in 1937. It spans eight acres and is situated in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood of Beverly Hills. It’s an incredibly private property that’s surrounded by tall hedges, blocked off by a large gate, and completely hidden from view from the street.

The compound is home to multiple dwellings, including two guesthouses and a 13,600-square-foot mansion. The estate also features a pool, tennis court, and manicured gardens, as well as a nine-hole golf course and a “motor court” with its own garage and gas pumps, according to Architectural Digest

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