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Rupert Murdoch’s new romance is the ‘ultimate power match’

Elena Zhukova and Rupert Murdoch pictured together.

Elena Zhukova and Rupert Murdoch pictured together. Photo: Instagram/TND

Just months after breaking off his engagement – and potentially his fifth wedding – media mogul Rupert Murdoch is reportedly dating a Russian billionaire scientist.

The 92-year-old was spotted aboard the legendary Aristotle Onassis yacht, the Christina O, anchored off the island of Corfu in Greece with retired US-based molecular biologist, Elena Zhukova, 66, according to the Daily Mail.

Mr Murdoch was introduced to Ms Zhukova at a family party thrown by his Chinese-born ex-wife, Wendi Deng, according to The Guardian, which independently confirmed the relationship.

“Murdoch invited her out after meeting at the family party, sources said … the relationship is serious and the couple has been cruising together in the Mediterranean for several weeks,” it wrote on August 16.

Also aboard were Mr Murdoch’s two daughters Chloe and Grace from his 14-year marriage to Ms Deng, with whom he is understood to maintain a good relationship.

Ms Zhukova is the mother of Dasha, 42, a Moscow-born art collector who was once married to Roman Abramovich, “a billionaire Russian oligarch whose ownership of Chelsea Football Club made him a household name in Britain”, writes UK fashion and lifestyle magazine, Tatler.

Dasha Zhukova’s father was also a Russian oligarch, Alexander Zhukov, according to Tatler, who split from Ms Zhukova when Dasha was three.

The mother and daughter moved to the US, where Ms Zhukova spent her career at the University of California in Los Angeles’ medical research division before retiring, specialising in diabetes.

“The union between Zhukova and Murdoch is making headlines for several reasons,” adds Tatler.

“Murdoch’s wealth, power and influence, his advanced years, and Zhukova’s own position at the centre of a sprawling web of power that encompasses the art world, Russian oligarchs and one of the world’s most influential shipping dynasties.”

“Rupert Murdoch’s ultimate power match?” Tatler muses.

Mr Murdoch and Ms Smith in happier times. Photo: Twitter/New York Post

Murdoch and marriage

Mr Murdoch has been married and divorced four times, and was engaged to be married for a fifth time to Californian conservative Ann Lesley Smith, also 66, before abruptly calling it off in April after two weeks.

In March, Mr Murdoch announced his engagement to Smith, a dental hygienist and former San Francisco police chaplain.

He had finalised his divorce from actress and model Jerry Hall in August last year.

Mr Murdoch and Ms Smith met in September at his vineyard Moraga in Bel Air in California, and announced their engagement via his News Corp-owned New York Post seven months later.

Ms Smith is a widow whose late husband was Chester Smith, a country singer, radio and TV executive.

A brief engagement

On St Patrick’s Day (March 17) in New York, Mr Murdoch presented Ms Smith with an Asscher-cut diamond solitaire ring, according to the Post.

“I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love but I knew this would be my last.

“It better be. I’m happy,” Mr Murdoch told the Post at the time.

“For us both it’s a gift from God,” she added.

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Ms Smith’s first marriage to lawyer John B Huntington allegedly turned abusive, and she was left penniless and homeless when they divorced.

She was on welfare and turned to modelling – and then Jesus, after reading the evangelical book Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?.

She began volunteering as a police chaplain, then met country singer and media mogul Chester Smith, whom she married and recorded a country album with in 2005. He died in 2008.

“I’m a widow 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.”

Not quite. Fast forward a few weeks to April 5 and Mr Murdoch was once again a single man.

Media reports at the time, including Vanity Fair, said the billionaire had become “increasingly uncomfortable” with Ms Smith’s “outspoken evangelical views”.

anna murdoch mann

Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife Anna in 1982, leaving the Boston Herald American. Photo: Getty

Anna Murdoch Mann

In 1956 Mr Murdoch married Patricia Booker, a former flight attendant with whom he had a daughter, Prudence (Prue). They divorced in 1967.

Ms Booker told Mr Murdoch’s biographer Michael Wolff in a Guardian interview in 2008: “I’ve always been low-key and not many people know about me, and I like that. I just love that.”

In 1967, Mr Murdoch married his second wife Anna Torv, a Scottish-born journalist with whom he has three children: Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.

They divorced in June 1999 after 32 years of marriage.

She gave a wide-ranging interview to the Australian Women’s Weekly in 2001 about their marriage and how it unravelled.

Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng in November 2013. Photo: Getty

Wendi Deng Murdoch

Mr Murdoch was 68 when he married Ms Deng, 30, on June 25, 1999, aboard his yacht Morning Glory in New York Harbour.

Ms Deng was a Yale School of Management graduate and a newly appointed vice-president of the Murdoch-owned Star TV in Hong Kong when they married.

Grace was born in 2001, and Chloe in 2003.

The Washington Post reported: “It was during that … marriage that Murdoch broke up the terms of the trust that controls his family’s media empire to make space for his two daughters with Deng.”

Mr Murdoch filed for divorce in June 2013, saying the marriage had “broken down irretrievably”.

In a 2018 Vogue cover story, Ms Deng revealed she and Mr Murdoch continued to parent as a team after their highly publicised divorce.

“Rupert’s a very good father,” she told Vogue.

“Strict like me. We attend school conferences together. We both make sure they learn Chinese, do well in math. We make decisions together about how they use social media. We never want them to say, ‘Well, Mommy said this’ or ‘Daddy said that’.”

rupert murdoch

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall on their wedding day in 2016. Photo: Getty

Jerry Hall

At a centuries-old mansion in central London in 2016, Mr Murdoch and his fourth wife Jerry Hall were married in a low-key ceremony.

He was 84, she was 59, and the civil ceremony was held at Spencer House in St James’s Place on March 4.

According to Mr Murdoch, it marked the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for the Melbourne-born billionaire.

Hours later, he tweeted: “No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in world.”

Last year, Hall was blindsided after allegedly receiving an email from Mr Murdoch that he wanted to separate, and in August their divorce was finalised.

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