Rupert Murdoch to marry for fifth time as he announces engagement to Ann Lesley Smith

News Corp billionaire says fifth marriage ‘better be’ his last, following ‘brutal’ divorce from Jerry Hall last year

Kate Ng
Monday 20 March 2023 12:27 GMT
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Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch finalise divorce

Rupert Murdoch and girlfriend Ann Lesley Smith are engaged, just seven months after the News Corp chair reached a divorce settlement with his now-ex-wife, Jerry Hall.

This will be the 92-year-old’s fifth marriage. He was previously married to Hall, Wendi Murdoch, Anna Murdoch Mann, and Patricia Booker.

Murdoch proposed to Smith with an Asscher-cut diamond solitaire ring on St Patrick’s Day (Friday 17 March) in New York City, the New York Post reported.

He told the publication: “I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love – but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.”

The Independent reported that the couple met late last year before making their relationship official last Christmas, when Smith attended a dinner at Murdoch’s home in Mayfair. Smith has now confirmed that they met in September at Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, California.

In January, Murdoch was seen holidaying in Barbados with Smith. They were reportedly hosted by British billionaire and JCB chairman Anthony Bamford.

Rupert Murdoch and girlfriend Ann Lesley Smith

Smith, who is 25 years Murdoch’s junior, was previously married to country-western musician Chester Smith, who died in 2008 at the age of 78. The pair recorded an album together in 2005, titled Captured by Love.

She told the Post of her impending nuptials: “For us both it’s a gift from God. We met last September. I’m a widow [for] 14 years. Like Rupert, my husband was a businessman. Worked for local papers, developed radio and TV stations and helped promote Univision. So I speak Rupert’s language. We share the same beliefs.

“In perspective, it’s not my first rodeo. Getting near 70 means being in the last half. I waited for the right time. Friends are happy for me.”

Murdoch added that the couple are “looking forward to spending the second half of our lives together”. The wedding is reportedly set to take place in late summer.

Following the abrupt end of their marriage, former supermodel Hall was reportedly “heartbroken” after she received an email from him telling her that it was over.

She is said to have told a friend: “I still love him. I am devastated.”

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall seen leaving St Brides Church after their wedding on March 5, 2016 in London, England.

Hall filed to formally end their six-year marriage in July, citing “irreconcilable differences” with Murdoch. They reached a divorce settlement in August after she asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to cancel the petition without prejudice, it was reported.

It is not stated why Hall filed the papers or if they had reached a private divorce settlement.

A lawyer for Murdoch released a joint statement on behalf of the former couple and said: “Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch have finalised their divorce. They remain good friends and wish each other the best for the future.”

Last month, a friend of the billionaire told The Daily Beast that Murdoch was open to marriage again and suggested it has to do with his religion and that he prefers to be married rather than to date.

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