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Rupert Murdoch, 93, set to wed Elena Zhukova, 67 - meet his four ex-wives and ex-fiancée

The News Corp media mogul is expected to wed Russian marine biologist Elena Zhukova, less than a year after calling off his engagement to Ann Lesley Smith in April 2023

Rupert Murdoch© Getty
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
Updated: May 29, 2024
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Rupert Murdoch, 93, is preparing to walk down the aisle for a fifth time this summer, less than a year after calling off his engagement to former fiancée Ann Lesley Smith, 67.

The News Corp founder, who has an estimated net worth of $17.6 billion, is betrothed to retired molecular biologist Elena Zhukova, 67, and it seems their nuptials could take place any day now.

Murdoch's last engagement to Ann Lesley Smith was cut short last year; the couple abruptly called off their 2023 summer wedding just one month after announcing their engagement. The kiboshed nuptials would have been the media mogul's fifth trip down the aisle.

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The media mogul has been married and divorced four times in the past. First to Patricia Booker from 1956 to 1967, followed by Anna Mann from 1967 to 1999, Wendi Deng from 1999 to 2013 and, most recently, Jerry Hall from 2016 to 2022. During these relationships, he welcomed six children. 

Ahead of his fifth wedding, we're delving into everything you need to know about his current fiancée Elena, former fiancée Ann and why his former marriages ended.

Who is Rupert Murdoch's current fiancée Elena Zhukova?

Elena Zhukova pictured at Larry Gagosian & Wendi Murdoch Private Dinner to Celebrate Miami Art Basel© Billy Farrell/BFA/Shutterstock
Elena Zhukova (pictured left in 2010) is a retired molecular biologist

Elena Zhukova, 67, is a retired molecular biologist. The New York Times first reported their engagement news in March, claiming they had been introduced by Murdoch's third wife, Wendi Deng.

While Elena tends to keep out of the spotlight, she was pictured at a Private Dinner to Celebrate Miami Art Basel in December 2010. The event was hosted by Wendi Deng, suggesting they have indeed been long-time acquaintances. 

Elena's daughter is none other than Dasha Zhukova, who was famously married to billionaire Roman Abramovich. The couple, who wed in 2008 and had two children together, split in 2017 and Dasha was given $92 million worth of property in the divorce, according to Tatler.

Dasha went on to wed Greek shipping heir Stavros Niarchos III, a man of equally staggering wealth and influence. Their no-expenses-spared January 2020 wedding in St Moritz was attended by Princess Beatrice of York as well as Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, a precursor to the lavish star-studded affair Elena and Murdoch will undoubtedly throw.

The Murdoch-Zhukova wedding is expected to be held in June at Murdoch's California estate. 

Who is Rupert Murdoch's ex-fiancée Ann Lesley Smith?

Ann has worked in modelling, radio, and as a Christian minister for the Manteca Police Department and the Marin County Sheriff's Office, both in California. She was previously married to country music star Chester Smith, who died in 2008 from a heart attack.

"Like Rupert, my husband was a businessman. Worked for local papers, developed radio and TV stations and helped promote (Spanish-language TV network) Univision," she told The New York Post. "So I speak Rupert's language. We share the same beliefs."

Ann met Rupert at his vineyard Moraga in Bel Air in September 2022. "She and her husband also owned a vineyard and had been in the wine business. Last year when there was 200 people at my vineyard, I met her and we talked a bit. Two weeks later I called her," he explained.

Following a whirlwind relationship, Rupert popped the question on St Patrick's Day with an Asscher-cut diamond solitaire engagement ring. "I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love — but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy," he added. Not anymore. According to Vanity Fair, Rupert had become "uncomfortable with Smith’s outspoken evangelical views," which helped lead to their split. 

Why did Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall split?

Rupert Murdoch with his wife Jerry Hall on their wedding day© Getty
The media mogul was married to Jerry for six years

The media mogul had only finalised his divorce from actor Jerry Hall in 2022 following a six-year marriage.

They were first spotted in public attending the Rugby World Cup in 2015, before getting married in London in 2016 and Rupert stating he was "the luckiest AND happiest man in the world."

In 2022, their representatives confirmed in a joint statement: "Jerry and Rupert Murdoch have finalised their divorce. They remain good friends and wish each other the best for the future."

The reason for their split is now known, but there were rumours that their relationship broke down amid the coronavirus pandemic. Their divorce papers reportedly cited "irreconcilable differences."

Why did Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng split?

Rupert Murdoch in a suit with his ex wife Wendi on the red carpet
Rupert and Wendi got married 17 days after his divorce from Anna

Rupert's third wife was Wendi Deng, whom he met at a company party in Hong Kong in 1997 and married two years later – just 17 days after his divorce from Anna.

Rupert, then 68, and Wendi, then 31, tied the knot on his yacht in New York Harbour, with their celebrations including a performance from Charlotte Church.

During their 14-year marriage, they welcomed daughters Grace and Chloe in 2001 and 2003.

Rupert filed for divorce in June 2013 stating the marriage had "broken down irretrievably." This followed rumours about Wendi's close relationship with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been married to Cherie Blair since 1980.

In a leaked note, she referenced his "piercing blue eyes" and stated: "Whatever why I’m so so missing Tony." 

Why did Rupert Murdoch and Anna Torv split?

Rupert Murdoch in a suit linking arms with his ex wife Anna in a pink jacket© Getty
Rupert's longest marriage was with Anna

In 1967, Rupert married journalist Anna Torv (now Mann), the mother of three of his children: Elisabeth, born in 1968, Lachlan, born in 1971, and James, born in 1972.

The couple met while she was working for his Sydney newspaper the Daily Mirror and they were married for 31 years before getting divorced in 1999, when Anna was relieved of her position as a non-executive director of News Corp.

She later opened up about their split, claiming she believed he had an affair with Wendi. "I began to think the Rupert Murdoch that I loved died a long time ago. Perhaps I was in love with the idea of still being in love with him. But the Rupert I fell in love with could not have behaved this way," she said, before adding: "I think that Rupert's affair with Wendi Deng – it's not an original plot – was the end of the marriage. His determination to continue with that. I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. Obviously, we didn't." 

Why did Rupert Murdoch and Patricia Booker split?

Rupert's first marriage was to flight attendant Patricia Brooker. They tied the knot when he was 25 in Australia in 1956, and they went on to welcome daughter Prudence two years later.

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After an 11-year marriage, they got divorced in 1967 but very little is known about their split.

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