Power Lawyers 2014: How Rupert Murdoch Perfected the Art of the Hollywood Divorce

With his third marital split, the media mogul — with help from his attorney, Ira Garr — has learned how to cover his matrimonial assets.
AP Images

This story first appeared in the May 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The last time Rupert Murdoch got divorced -- from his second wife, Anna Torv, in 1999 -- it cost him a whopping $1.7 billion. Live and learn. Details of the 83-year-old News Corp chairman's third split -- from Wendi Deng, on June 13, 2013 -- are not all public, but one thing is clear: Murdoch is much better at covering his matrimonial assets than he used to be.

GUEST COLUMN: Power Lawyers 2014--How to Divorce for Less Than $25 Million a Day

For starters, he not only had Deng sign a prenuptial agreement (something he didn't do with Torv), he had her sign two. Those dual agreements helped make Murdoch's third divorce practically a walk in the park. And a speedy walk, at that: A settlement with Deng was reached five months after Murdoch reportedly surprised her with divorce papers (supposedly after he caught wind of flirtatious notes and secret visits between Deng and former British prime minister Tony Blair). Murdoch also was fortunate to file for divorce in New York, which "is very favorable toward enforcing prenups," Deng's attorney William Zabel said in June (six weeks before Deng hired him to replace her initial lawyer, longtime Murdoch family rep Pamela Sloan).

The other thing Murdoch and his lawyer, Ira Garr (Ivana Trump's divorce attorney), did just right: He made sure his family problems didn't touch his $73.7 billion media empire without coming across as a total Scrooge. He and Deng's two young daughters share equal financial interest in the Murdoch Family Trust, worth about $13 billion, as do Murdoch's four adult children from his previous marriages. But unlike the others, Grace, 12, and Chloe, 10, do not have voting rights -- just like their mother.