Through the keyhole as Murdoch seeks $28m

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The Independent US

There is also a sun room on the roof, which is where Mr Murdoch, the 74-year-old media billionaire, retreats on Sundays to read the papers. The actor Hugh Jackman lives close by and his children often visit for playtime dates with Rupert and Wendi's two children, Grace and Chloe.

Mr Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, is not normally so generous in revealing titbits of his private life. Such are the current ructions in his family, - squabbles over the future roles for Grace and Chloe in the company and the recent bolting of his son Lachlan from his senior position in the firm - you'd expect him to be more coy than ever. Yet there he is, plastered all over the pages of The New York Times, telling us that Gordon Brown was a recent dinner guest and that all his sinks are carved out of single slabs of Carrara marble.

And Wendi, even more publicity-shy than her husband, is there also. They occupy much of the front page and many column inches inside of the newspaper's weekly House & Home section.

This is not the Dirty Digger, as Private Eye once called him, going all sentimental and deciding the time has come to share the details of his gilded life with the rest of us. No, he has more pressing reasons and they are financial in nature. The loft is on the market - and it is not selling.

The place has been available since June. But only six prospective buyers have visited to look and none has made an offer. The Murdochs, meanwhile, have already put down a record-breaking $44m for a new abode - a penthouse on Fifth Avenue that was once home to Laurance Rockefeller. Mr Murdoch can manage the financial stress, but the purchase uptown makes selling the SoHo place more or less urgent.

The New York housing market, especially at the luxury end, has been slowing and Mr Murdoch wants $28m for the loft - more money than anyone has ever spent on a home in SoHo.

The spread in The New York Times amounts to a preposterous slab of free advertising for Mr Murdoch. As well as endless words describing the glories of the space - don't forget the Australian walnut doors, full gymnasium and giant screening room - there is a mosaic of flattering photographs. All that is missing is a shot of the sleeping quarters.

More than a piece about a property, the article offers a rare, if mostly innocuous, peek through the keyhole at one of the world's most elusive power-couples. It is the sort of exposé that Hello! might have paid big money for.

A small whiff of marital tension can be detected. Ms Deng, 36, is generous about her husband's decision to leave SoHo in favour of Fifth Avenue. "It was your American dream," she says to him, to live in the new place. But she also makes clear she is sad to leave the loft that the couple - who have been married for six years - took two and half years to renovate. "I love downtown," she says.

If it doesn't sell, maybe she can stay there. If it does sell, she can thank The New York Times.

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