×

National Enquirer Parent Says It Will Investigate Jeff Bezos Extortion Claims

After Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer of attempted extortion — with the threat of publishing private nude pics of the Amazon billionaire — American Media, the tabloid’s publisher, said its board has initiated an investigation into the matter.

In a statement Friday morning, AMI reiterated claims that it acted within legal boundaries in obtaining personal texts attributed to Bezos, some which the National Enquirer published last month. Bezos on Jan. 9 announced he was divorcing his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, after which the National Enquirer published texts purportedly between Jeff Bezos and his new girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos, in an extraordinary blog post Thursday, accused AMI and the National Enquirer of threatening to publish personal photos the tabloid had obtained — including a “d— pic” of the Amazon founder, as described by AMI’s chief content executive — unless Bezos publicly disavowed any knowledge that the company had pursued the story with a political agenda and ended his investigation into how the Enquirer obtained the texts. In addition, AMI demanded that the Bezos-owned Washington Post cease reporting on AMI’s political ties, according to Bezos’ post.

AMI’s full statement reads, “American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him. Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

The four-member board of AMI is composed of chairman/CEO David Pecker; Evan Ratner and Barry Schwartz, both partners at Chatham Asset Management (a hedge fund that is one of AMI’s owners); and David R. Hughes, CFO of Shore Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.

In a post on Medium titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos included what he said were three emails from AMI and the National Enquirer execs. In one, AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard described 10 photos the Enquirer had obtained, including a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d— pick’ [sic]” as well as those showing Bezos in states of undress.

In an email from Jon Fine, AMI’s deputy general counsel for media, to lawyer Marty Singer — who is representing Gavin de Becker, whom Bezos retained to investigate the National Enquirer reporting — Fine demanded that Bezos and his representatives, including the Washington Post, cease and desist in making “unsubstantiated defamatory statements and scurrilous rumors” about AMI’s political agenda, in which case AMI was “willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession.”

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” Bezos wrote in the post. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”

Bezos suggested that AMI was motivated to unearth and publish damaging info on him because of Pecker’s close ties to Donald Trump, who has attacked the Amazon CEO and the ecommerce giant over the Washington Post’s aggressive coverage of the president.

In addition, Bezos claimed that “an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation” and that “the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.” He wrote that the Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi while in Saudi Arabian custody “is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

A spokesman for Bezos confirmed Friday that Bezos’ post was authentic but declined further comment, including whether the matter has been referred to law enforcement.

The connection between AMI’s Pecker and Trump is already well established. Last year, AMI signed a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors in which the company and its executives admitted to arranging for a “catch-and-kill” ploy leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, involving payments to model Karen McDougal to keep her from going public with her claims of an affair with Trump. AMI also admitted that in August 2015, Pecker extended an offer to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to buy up the rights to negative stories about Trump’s relationships with women in order to suppress publication.

Bezos is the world’s richest individual, with a current personal net worth of $134 billion, per Bloomberg. The 55-year-old mogul owns 16% of Amazon’s shares.

More Biz

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Weapons Cache

    D.A. Files 64 Charges in Bel-Air Weapons Stockpile Case

    The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has filed 64 counts against Girard Saenz, the man who allegedly kept a stockpile of more than 1,000 weapons at a Bel-Air home linked to the Getty family. Saenz is accused of illegal possession of assault weapons, transferring handguns without a dealer license, possession of short-barreled shotguns, and possession [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Digital Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

  • ILM Star Wars The Force Awakens

    ILM to Open Latest Effects Facility in Sydney, Australia

    Sydney, Australia, is to be home to Industrial Light & Magic’s fifth production hub. The Disney-owned special effects company currently has facilities in San Francisco, Vancouver, London and Singapore. The decision to open the Sydney outpost was announced Monday local time by executive creative director and head of ILM Rob Bredow, ILM executive Luke Hetherington, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content