The weird years-long drama behind the story of Jeff Bezos’ secret extramarital relationship is about to get even weirder. A shady determine affiliated with the Nationwide Enquirer claims in court docket that one in every of Hollywood’s strongest gamers supplied the grocery store tabloid with the sordid particulars of the affair.
After Bezos introduced in 2018 he was separating from Mackenzie Bezos, his spouse of 25 years, the Nationwide Enquirer revealed the world’s richest man was having an affair with Lauren Sanchez, a southern California-based tv host and pilot. The sleazy grocery store tabloid’s collection on the affair—which included racy textual content messages and suggestive pictures between Bezos and Sanchez—set off a weird and sprawling public hunt for the supply or sources of the knowledge, roping in Sanchez’s now-estranged brother Michael Sanchez, high executives at Enquirer dad or mum firm American Media Inc., and even the Saudi authorities.
Now, Nikolaos Tzima Hatziefstathiou, a journalist with a unusual and disturbing prison historical past who reported the story with the Nationwide Enquirer and AMI (since rebranded as “A360 Media”), is claiming one main supply of the knowledge was Lauren Sanchez’s then-husband, William Morris Endeavor govt Patrick Whitesell.
Hatziefstathiou’s allegations are a part of a defamation lawsuit Michael Sanchez introduced this yr towards AMI, claiming that the tabloid media firm lied when it outed him as the only supply of details about the Bezos affair.
In an affidavit filed by Michael Sanchez’s authorized staff, Hatziefstathiou claimed then-AMI-senior vice chairman Dylan Howard assigned him to look into Bezos’ affair after he was informed in regards to the relationship by Whitesell, the chief chairman of Endeavor, one of the outstanding expertise businesses on this planet.
Hatziefstathiou asserted that the affair was a handy excuse for the Endeavor govt to interrupt off his marriage, however AMI was intent on defending him as a supply.
“Mr. Whitesell found the Affair and, by serving as AMI’s secret, undisclosed supply, actually turned the Affair right into a ‘get out of divorce free card,’ permitting him to go away his spouse… via a pre-planned divorce during which he appeared innocent and scandal-free, simply months previous to WME’s deliberate preliminary public providing,” Hatziefstathiou wrote within the submitting.
Representatives for Howard, Whitesell, and AMI/A360 didn’t instantly return requests for remark.
In Hatziefstathiou’s 2020 resignation letter from AMI, which is included on this week’s submitting, he wrote that the corporate included “blatant lies” in its court docket filings associated to the Bezos affair, saying AMI was deceptive the courts in regards to the supply of data.
However the former AMI journalist himself has a doubtful historical past of authorized troubles which may colour the court docket’s view of his reliability and veracity. In 2019, he was charged with 20 prison counts for a weird rip-off during which he posed as journalists from the New York Occasions and Good Morning America and created a faux racist electronic mail that presupposed to be from a Delaware County Grownup Probation and Parole officer.
Because the Philly Voice famous, he beforehand pleaded responsible to calling regulation enforcement to report a disturbance at his neighbor’s residence after sending dozens of prostitutes there, and was informed by a choose to cease watching cop motion pictures after attempting to arrange a drug seller for the police.
A lot of Hatziefstathiou’s testimony this week is a considerably rambling of his protection of his personal private conduct and particulars of his reporting on the Bezos affair. Moreover, whereas Hatziefstathiou claims Whitesell was concerned, the submitting didn’t embrace any reveals past his personal testimony clearly linking the WME govt to AMI.
Nonetheless, Hatziefstathiou mentioned within the submitting he moreover has “ten terabytes” of knowledge consisting of one million paperwork about AMI and his protection of the Bezos affair to assist his claims.
The query of who leaked data on the Bezos affair to AMI and the Enquirer has sparked a sprawling years-long hunt involving among the shadiest gamers on this planet of tabloid journalism, leisure, and company espionage. In 2019, The Every day Beast first reported that Michael Sanchez was AMI’s supply for the steamy textual content messages between his sister and Bezos, a revelation the Enquirer later confirmed.
In a court docket submitting final July—AMI’s movement to dismiss Michael Sanchez’s lawsuit and sanction him for allegedly abusing the judicial system—the Enquirer’s dad or mum firm included a cache of emails, textual content messages and sworn statements from AMI staff that tended to finger Sanchez because the supply of the salacious tales. The court docket paperwork painted an image of Sanchez as a disloyal brother desperate to promote out his married sister and her secret billionaire-lover.
AMI finally agreed to pay Sanchez $200,000, based on the July 2020 court docket submitting, for “data, images, and textual content messages documenting an affair between Bezos and L. Sanchez.” It was, because it turned out, a dropping proposition. Final month, after Los Angeles County Superior Court docket choose dismissed Michael Sanchez’s separate defamation lawsuit towards Bezos and his safety advisor Gavin de Becker, Sanchez was ordered to pay the billionaire $218,385 for Bezos’ authorized prices.
AMI’s court docket submitting, in the meantime, contained chronological inconsistencies, elevating questions in regards to the Enquirer’s preliminary supply, which are outlined intimately in Hatziefstathiou’s affidavit alleging that it was Hollywood powerbroker Whitesell who first alerted the tabloid to the Bezos-Sanchez relationship.
The textual content messages, equipped by Michael Sanchez, weren’t the one salacious proof of the affair within the Enquirer’s possession. And Sanchez maintained he was not the one AMI supply, a idea Bezos’ camp appeared to share.
Whereas he urged that the Saudis had entry to Bezos’ telephone, de Becker publicly puzzled why AMI itself nearly appeared intent on outing Michael Sanchez because the Enquirer’s supply. “What was uncommon, very uncommon, was how onerous AMI individuals labored to publicly reveal their supply’s id,” he wrote. “First via robust hints they gave to me, and later via direct statements, AMI virtually pinned a kick me’ signal on Michael Sanchez.”
“Any private embarrassment AMI may trigger me takes a again seat as a result of there’s a way more essential matter concerned right here,” wrote Bezos. “If in my place I can’t stand as much as this sort of extortion, how many individuals can?”