Wendi Deng’s reputation as one of the world’s great golddiggers has prompted an online frenzy of speculation about her next potential target in the wake of Thursday’s filing for divorce by current husband Rupert Murdoch.
One of the juicier online threads would tie Deng, 44, to Russian president Vladimir Putin who happened to have announced his divorce from Lyudmila, his wife of 33 years, on the same day Murdoch, 82, filed for divorce. One online rumor suggests Deng’s decision to divorce Murdoch came specifically after learning that Putin is getting a divorce.
That seems unlikely since a statement from Murdoch’s office said the marriage had been “irretrievably broken down” since about six months ago. The timing of the divorce filing appears to be more closely tied to Murdoch’s announcement Friday of plans to divide his News Corp media empire into two operations effective June 28.
Murdoch, ex wife Anna and their four children collectively own only 12% of the shares of the publicly-traded firm but retain 39% of voting shares, giving Rupert effective control of News Corp. The company is considered the world’s second largest media empire and the third largest entertainment conglomerate.
Another popular thread of speculation about Deng’s next target centers on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 60. Blair is not only friends with both Murdoch and Deng but is godfather to their two daughters Grace and Chloe. The speculation even prompted a spokesman from his London office to say, “If you are asking if they are having an affair, the answer is no.”
The statement’s present tense fueled more speculation than it quelled. Blair is married to noted barrister Cherie Booth Blair to whom Blair has been married since 1980 and with whom he has three sons and a daughter. The global admiration Blair attained during his terms as one of Britain’s most charismatic prime ministers makes him a highly unlikely prospect to become the next Mr Wendi Deng.
Another potential Deng target is MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe, 46, with whom Deng is rumored to have been having an affair. DeWolfe has an estimated net worth of $500 million. That in itself may rule him out as a realistic target. Deng is expected to reap a divorce settlement of around $1 billion from her 14-year-marriage based mainly on the fact that Murdoch’s second wife Anna received a $1.7-billion settlement.
Another piece of wild internet speculation sees Murdoch’s divorce as being a mechanism for evading the limitations of the Deng-Murdoch prenuptial agreement which precludes Deng from inheriting any of Murdoch’s $11.2-bil. personal fortune if he were to die while the couple are married.
The frenzied speculation around Deng’s designs for her future is based on the salacious accounts that surround her life’s spectacular tabloid trajectory.
Deng was born in the city of Jinan in Shandong province, the third of four children. Her parents were engineers. During her early school years she is said to have been an avid volleyball player. At the age of 16 she enrolled at Guangzhou Medical College. A year later she met American businessman Jake Cherry and his wife Joyce with whom she studied English. In 1988, just a year after meeting the Cherrys, Deng dropped her medical studies and moved to the US under a student visa sponsored by the Cherrys. She studied economics at Cal State Northridge. She graduated with a BA among the top 1% of her class.
During her years at CSUN Deng was caught having an affair with Jake who is 30 years older. Joyce Cherry kicked Deng out of the house. Jake soon moved in with her. In 1990 the pair married when Deng was 22 and Jake, 52. Within five months Jake discovered that Deng was seeing a younger man, prompting the couple to separate. They divorced two years later.
Meanwhile Deng’s stellar record at CSUN won her admission to the Yale School of Management from which she earned an MBA. During her job search she met Bruce Churchill who was heading up finance and corporate development at the Los Angeles branch of Fox TV. Several years later he offered Deng an internship at News Corp’s Star TV subsidiary in Hong Kong. Deng quickly won a position there as a junior executive who was able to participate in planning Star TV’s operations in Hong Kong and China.
It was at a Star TV company party in 1997 that she met Rupert Murdoch. Two years later Murdoch divorced his second wife Anna and married Deng two weeks later.
After her marriage Deng was made director of the News Corp holding company that licensed the MySpace brand and technology to MySpace China. She was also chief of strategy for MySpace’s China operation before the money-losing company was sold to Specific Media in June, 2011. MySpace is considered one of Murdoch’s most ill-advised major acquisitions on behalf of New Corp.