In January, the National Enquirer published 11 pages of content devoted to outing a scandalous, months-long affair between Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos (married to wife MacKenzie for 25 years) and Lauren Sanchez Whitesell (wife of Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell). Included in the spread were text messages exchanged by the couple as well as a tease that the tabloid was in possession of nude images featuring Bezos.
In the weeks since, the shock value of NSFW images (later confirmed to be in existence by Bezos himself) have been trumped by jaw-dropping revelations in a real-life soap opera of sorts that continues to play out in the press, complete with corporate intrigue, political finger-pointing and discreet romantic meet-ups. A fair amount of ink has been devoted to how the Enquirer obtained texts and images of the world's richest man, a notoriously private executive who even employs his own private security team.
The Wall St. Journal on Monday published a lengthy investigation in which reporters Michael Rothfeld, Joe Palazzolo and Alexandra Berzon answer that question and detail a scheme that puts Michael Sanchez front and center. The brother of Sanchez Whitesell, a Hollywood talent agent who has largely represented conservative news anchors and reality TV stars, is said to have received $200,000 from Enquirer parent company American Media, Inc. in exchange for turning over his sister's private communications with Bezos. The WSJ story follows an earlier report from Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman that stated Sanchez sold the communications for a bit more cash — $250,000. The Daily Beast also cited Sanchez as being the leak.