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Rupert Murdoch told his fourth wife, former supermodel, Jerry Hall, that their marriage was over by email, according to reports.
Ms Hall, who celebrated her 66th birthday on Saturday, was said to have been devastated by the message in which she was instructed to only contact the 91-year-old media mogul via lawyers going forward.
On Friday, Ms Hall, who lived with Mick Jagger for 22 years, filed divorce papers in California citing “irreconcilable differences” with Mr Murdoch.
The couple had been married six years. Mr Murdoch said he was “the happiest man in the world” when the couple married in London in March 2016.
In the petition, lodged with the Los Angeles Superior Court, Ms Hall said she was unaware of the full extent of Mr Murdoch’s assets and liabilities.
According to Forbes, Mr Murdoch and his family are worth $17.7 billion (£14.6 billion).
She was reportedly waiting in Britain for Mr Murdoch to join her when she got an email saying their marriage was over.
According to DailyMail.com, she told a friend: “I still love him.”
The friend added: “Jerry is truly devastated by what has happened and insists that it was all a bolt from the blue.
“One day they were making plans to be together for the summer in London, then there was this message instructing her to only contact him via lawyers.
“She is in the house in Henley and is spending time there with (daughter) Lizzie and her grandchild.
“Everyone feels sorry for her about how it has worked out, but nobody is more sorry than Jerry because she honestly loves him still.”
The announcement that the couple were to divorce reportedly came as a shock.
They celebrated Mr Murdoch’s 90th birthday together in New York last year and guests at the celebration said they seemed as close as ever.
Beginning of the rift
Reports suggested that the rift started during the pandemic when Ms Hall sought to minimise the risk of Mr Murdoch contracting Covid.
“She used to joke that she was the Covid police, she wanted to keep him safe,” sources told the Daily Mail.
But this caused resentment among Mr Murdoch’s children, who believed she was trying to distance the media titan from his family.
“She has been hurt by suggestions that she was only in it for the money, or that Rupert didn’t like her smoking or drinking.
“As far as she is concerned, all of that is wide of the mark and she thinks that his children have been briefing against her. She thought that they had a really happy marriage, and she was in love with him.”
The reported rift carries echoes of the hit television series Succession, which chronicles the jostling between the children of a fictitious media magnate, Logan Roy, who is said to be based on Mr Murdoch.
The couple's legal settlement will be subject to negotiation; however, it is not anticipated that this will have any impact on Mr Murdoch’s extensive global media empire.
The family’s shares in the empire are held by a trust with voting rights split between his four oldest children: Lachlan, Elisabeth, James and Prudence.
Ms Hall had four children with Mick Jagger: James, Lizzie, Georgia May and Gabriel.
Mr Murdoch’s first wife was an Australian model, Patricia Booker. They divorced in 1967.
He was married to his second wife, Anna, for more than 30 years, and their reported £1.5 billion divorce settlement was said to be the second-most expensive in history.
Mr Murdoch’s third wife, Wendi Deng, captured the headlines when she struck a protester who threw a custard pie at her husband during a parliamentary hearing in July 2011.
A spokesman for NewsCorp told The Telegraph: “I have no comment or guidance on this matter.”