What Rupert Murdoch's life is really like: How the mogul grew his media empire and $7.35 billion fortune, weathered scandal, and became engrained in international politics

rupert murdochAP Photo/Julio Cortez

  • Rupert Murdoch, 88, is one of the most powerful men in media.
  • Beginning with a regional Australian newspaper that he inherited from his father, Murdoch built a media empire that spanned three continents. At its height, the empire included The Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Company, 21st Century Fox, and Sky Television.
  • Murdoch used his media holdings to sway elections in Australia, the UK, and the US, an April 2019 investigation by The New York Times found.
  • Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan fought a nasty, decade-long battle over who would succeed their father, according to the same report.
  • Murdoch has a net worth of $7.35 billion, per Bloomberg.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In 1952, Rupert Murdoch owned one regional newspaper in his Australian hometown.

He went on to build a media empire that, at its peak, included newspapers, television stations, and film studios on three continents and was powerful enough to sway elections, an April 2019 New York Times investigation found.

Murdoch sold 21st Century Fox, one of his largest assets, to Disney in 2019 for $71 billion, Business Insider previously reported. But while his empire may not be as large as it once was, it has arguably never been more powerful on a global scale.

Murdoch's holding company, News Corp, owns The New York Post, The Times of London, and The Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Company, among many other assets. Murdoch, now 88 years old, currently spends his days at the helm of another News Corp property, Fox News. The media mogul also reportedly has a close personal relationship with President Trump and calls him frequently in the Oval Office, according to The Times.

Murdoch and his family have also never been richer, with Forbes putting their collective net worth at $20.9 billion. Even after splitting his fortune among his six children, Murdoch himself has a net worth of $7.35 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Read more: Rupert Murdoch's 6 children are set to become billionaires many times over thanks to a $71 billion deal with Disney

Murdoch did not respond to requests from Business Insider for comment.

Keep reading to learn how Murdoch built his media empire and how he now spends his fortune.

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Keith Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.

Keith Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.

Source: Bloomberg

His father, also named Keith Murdoch, was a war correspondent and ran several newspapers across the continent during the course of his career. The younger Murdoch took over the Adelaide News when his father died at age 67 in 1952. It would prove to be the beginning of his media empire.

His father, also named Keith Murdoch, was a war correspondent and ran several newspapers across the continent during the course of his career. The younger Murdoch took over the Adelaide News when his father died at age 67 in 1952. It would prove to be the beginning of his media empire.

Source: The Melbourne Press Club

Before entering the media business, Murdoch earned a degree at Oxford. As a student, he supported the Labour Party.

Before entering the media business, Murdoch earned a degree at Oxford. As a student, he supported the Labour Party.

Source: BBC News

At 22, Murdoch moved back to Australia to run the Adelaide News (known to be one of the elder Murdoch's less prestigious papers). He quickly got involved in every aspect of the paper's production. He featured stories about scandals, and the business began to grow rapidly.

At 22, Murdoch moved back to Australia to run the Adelaide News (known to be one of the elder Murdoch's less prestigious papers). He quickly got involved in every aspect of the paper's production. He featured stories about scandals, and the business began to grow rapidly.

Source: BBC News, Bloomberg

Murdoch purchased several other newspapers across the continent. Eventually, he controlled almost two-thirds of the Australian media market.

Murdoch purchased several other newspapers across the continent. Eventually, he controlled almost two-thirds of the Australian media market.

Source: The New York Times

In 1964, he founded the country's first national paper: The Australian. "I'm rather sick of snobs who tell us they're bad papers, snobs who only read papers that no-one else wants," he said when confronted about his tendency to publish lurid news in his papers, according to the BBC.

In 1964, he founded the country's first national paper: The Australian. "I'm rather sick of snobs who tell us they're bad papers, snobs who only read papers that no-one else wants," he said when confronted about his tendency to publish lurid news in his papers, according to the BBC.

Source: The New York Times, BBC News

Murdoch stretched his empire even further. He expanded to the United Kingdom in 1968 and purchased The News of the World, a weekly tabloid, that year.

Murdoch stretched his empire even further. He expanded to the United Kingdom in 1968 and purchased The News of the World, a weekly tabloid, that year.

Source: BBC News

The next year, Murdoch also purchased The Sun, a daily tabloid.

The next year, Murdoch also purchased The Sun, a daily tabloid.

Source: The Guardian

According to The Times, Murdoch used his newly acquired newspapers to praise Margaret Thatcher, who at the time was campaigning to become Prime Minister. This marked a shift from The Sun's previous support of the Labour Party.

According to The Times, Murdoch used his newly acquired newspapers to praise Margaret Thatcher, who at the time was campaigning to become Prime Minister. This marked a shift from The Sun's previous support of the Labour Party.

Source: The New York Times, The Daily Beast

Thatcher's government assisted Murdoch's growing media empire by not alerting antimonopoly regulators when he purchased The Times of London or started broadcasting Sky Television into the UK from Luxembourg in February 1989.

Thatcher's government assisted Murdoch's growing media empire by not alerting antimonopoly regulators when he purchased The Times of London or started broadcasting Sky Television into the UK from Luxembourg in February 1989.

Source: The New York Times, The Guardian

Around this time, Murdoch had started to spread his empire even further. He bought his first US paper, the San Antonio Express-News, in 1973 and purchased The New York Post three years later.

Around this time, Murdoch had started to spread his empire even further. He bought his first US paper, the San Antonio Express-News, in 1973 and purchased The New York Post three years later.

Source: The Guardian

Much as he did with Thatcher in the UK, Murdoch used The Post to drum up support for Ronald Reagan in New York during the 1980 presidential election. According to The Times, Reagan's team said Murdoch helped sway voters in that state.

Much as he did with Thatcher in the UK, Murdoch used The Post to drum up support for Ronald Reagan in New York during the 1980 presidential election. According to The Times, Reagan's team said Murdoch helped sway voters in that state.

Source: The New York Times

Reagan's administration later dropped FEC select regulations, which allowed Murdoch to buy television stations in cities where he already owned newspapers, despite this being prohibited at the time.

Reagan's administration later dropped FEC select regulations, which allowed Murdoch to buy television stations in cities where he already owned newspapers, despite this being prohibited at the time.

Source: The New York Times

Continuing his expansion, Murdoch first invested in film studio 20th Century Fox in 1985. He went on to build Fox into an entertainment empire comprised of local television stations and a broadcast network.

Continuing his expansion, Murdoch first invested in film studio 20th Century Fox in 1985. He went on to build Fox into an entertainment empire comprised of local television stations and a broadcast network.

Source: Bloomberg, The Guardian

Later that year, Murdoch became a naturalized US citizen. This move allowed him to take full ownership of American television stations. At this point, he'd been living in the country since 1973.

Later that year, Murdoch became a naturalized US citizen. This move allowed him to take full ownership of American television stations. At this point, he'd been living in the country since 1973.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

In 1996, Murdoch and Roger Ailes launched Fox News, a right-leaning 24-hour news network.

In 1996, Murdoch and Roger Ailes launched Fox News, a right-leaning 24-hour news network.

Source: Rolling Stone

According to The Times, Murdoch was inspired by CNN founder, Ted Turner, who he considered a rival.

According to The Times, Murdoch was inspired by CNN founder, Ted Turner, who he considered a rival.

Source: The New York Times

Murdoch is known for his neoconservative views and used both his own media outlets and others to push for the War in Iraq. "We can't back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam," he told Australian magazine the Bulletin (which he doesn't own) in February 2003, according to The Guardian.

Murdoch is known for his neoconservative views and used both his own media outlets and others to push for the War in Iraq. "We can't back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam," he told Australian magazine the Bulletin (which he doesn't own) in February 2003, according to The Guardian.

Source: The Guardian

By 2010, a major scandal had come into public view. The Guardian broke the story that Murdoch's News of the World had been hacking into the voicemails of British politicians, royals, and celebrities creating what The Times called "the biggest crisis of [Murdoch's] career." The organization faced repeated hacking allegations in the several years prior to the scandal unfolding.

By 2010, a major scandal had come into public view. The Guardian broke the story that Murdoch's News of the World had been hacking into the voicemails of British politicians, royals, and celebrities creating what The Times called "the biggest crisis of [Murdoch's] career." The organization faced repeated hacking allegations in the several years prior to the scandal unfolding.

Source: The Guardian, The New York Times

In 2011, News of the World admitted to the hacking, offering up an official apology. Later that year, Murdoch was forced to testify at a public hearing in front of Parliament.

In 2011, News of the World admitted to the hacking, offering up an official apology. Later that year, Murdoch was forced to testify at a public hearing in front of Parliament.

Source: CNN

A judicial inquiry followed. The Inquiry's report, published by Lord Justice Leveson in 2012, stated that when discussing policy with Murdoch, "politicians knew that the prize was personal and political support in his mass-circulation newspapers."

A judicial inquiry followed. The Inquiry's report, published by Lord Justice Leveson in 2012, stated that when discussing policy with Murdoch, "politicians knew that the prize was personal and political support in his mass-circulation newspapers."

Source: CNN, Gov.uk

Murdoch also publicly supported Brexit, calling the vote a "prison break." He was later seen celebrating the referendum's result at a party with British politician Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and current Brexit Party leader.

Murdoch also publicly supported Brexit, calling the vote a "prison break." He was later seen celebrating the referendum's result at a party with British politician Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and current Brexit Party leader.

Source: The New York Times

In early 2015, Trump told Murdoch over lunch in the Fox News building that he was planning on running for president, The Times investigators found.

In early 2015, Trump told Murdoch over lunch in the Fox News building that he was planning on running for president, The Times investigators found.

Source: The New York Times

The Murdoch and Trump families had been close for years prior to this. Ivanka Trump was one of five people chosen to oversee the trust for two of Murdoch's daughters. In February 2017, a spokesman for the president's daughter told the Financial Times that Ivanka had stepped down from her position as a trustee.

The Murdoch and Trump families had been close for years prior to this. Ivanka Trump was one of five people chosen to oversee the trust for two of Murdoch's daughters. In February 2017, a spokesman for the president's daughter told the Financial Times that Ivanka had stepped down from her position as a trustee.

Source: Fortune

Despite the ties between their families, Murdoch didn't initially throw his sizable support behind Trump. In fact, the newspaper baron donated $200,000 from his personal funds to a super PAC for Gov. John Kasich in the last half of 2015.

Despite the ties between their families, Murdoch didn't initially throw his sizable support behind Trump. In fact, the newspaper baron donated $200,000 from his personal funds to a super PAC for Gov. John Kasich in the last half of 2015.

Source: Cincinnati.com

But Murdoch softened toward Trump as the election grew nearer. "If he becomes inevitable, party would be mad not to unify," Murdoch tweeted in March 2016.

But Murdoch softened toward Trump as the election grew nearer. "If he becomes inevitable, party would be mad not to unify," Murdoch tweeted in March 2016.

Source: New York Magazine, Twitter

Meanwhile, things within Murdoch's sprawling media empire took a turn for the tumultuous. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned in July 2016 after facing allegations of sexual harassment from female Fox News hosts including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.

Meanwhile, things within Murdoch's sprawling media empire took a turn for the tumultuous. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned in July 2016 after facing allegations of sexual harassment from female Fox News hosts including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.

Source: CNN Business

Instead of finding a replacement, Murdoch took over Ailes' job himself. He referred to the position as "my retirement job," according to The Times.

Instead of finding a replacement, Murdoch took over Ailes' job himself. He referred to the position as "my retirement job," according to The Times.

Source: The New York Times

Under Murdoch's supervision, the Fox News lineup became more overtly pro-Trump. Hosts that were critical of the president, including Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, were replaced by vocally pro-Trump hosts like Tucker Carlson.

Under Murdoch's supervision, the Fox News lineup became more overtly pro-Trump. Hosts that were critical of the president, including Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, were replaced by vocally pro-Trump hosts like Tucker Carlson.

Source: The New York Times

After Trump was elected in November 2016, he and Murdoch began to talk frequently over the phone. In April 2017, The Independent reported that, per sources close to each of the men, the two were speaking "every week to discuss strategy."

After Trump was elected in November 2016, he and Murdoch began to talk frequently over the phone. In April 2017, The Independent reported that, per sources close to each of the men, the two were speaking "every week to discuss strategy."

Source: The New York Times, The Independent

Faced with increasing competition from tech giants, Murdoch began meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger to discuss the sale of 21st Century Fox.

Faced with increasing competition from tech giants, Murdoch began meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger to discuss the sale of 21st Century Fox.

Source: The New York Times

Murdoch and Iger announced their deal (which was initially valued at $52.4 billion) in December 2017.

Murdoch and Iger announced their deal (which was initially valued at $52.4 billion) in December 2017.

Source: The Walt Disney Company

In early January 2018, Murdoch tripped while vacationing on his son's superyacht. He was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery for broken vertebrae and a spinal hematoma. Sources classified the hospitalization as "serious."

In early January 2018, Murdoch tripped while vacationing on his son's superyacht. He was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery for broken vertebrae and a spinal hematoma. Sources classified the hospitalization as "serious."

Source: The New York Times, Vanity Fair

The severity of Murdoch's fall prompted all of his adult children to gather around his hospital bedside in case he didn't make it.

The severity of Murdoch's fall prompted all of his adult children to gather around his hospital bedside in case he didn't make it.

Source: The New York Times

There's been discord between the wealthy Murdoch children over the years. As of now, eldest son Lachlan, 47, is considered Murdoch's heir apparent. Lachlan currently serves as the CEO of the Fox Corporation.

There's been discord between the wealthy Murdoch children over the years. As of now, eldest son Lachlan, 47, is considered Murdoch's heir apparent. Lachlan currently serves as the CEO of the Fox Corporation.

Source: The Washington Post

According to The Times' investigation, Murdoch's younger son James, 46, had unsuccessfully vied for his father's favor over the years.

According to The Times' investigation, Murdoch's younger son James, 46, had unsuccessfully vied for his father's favor over the years.

Source: The New York Times

Murdoch also has two daughters, Prudence and Elisabeth, who are less involved with the family business.

Murdoch also has two daughters, Prudence and Elisabeth, who are less involved with the family business.

Source: The New York Times

While he recovered from his fall in early 2018, Murdoch ran the company from his home: Moraga Estate.

While he recovered from his fall in early 2018, Murdoch ran the company from his home: Moraga Estate.

Source: The New York Times, Vanity Fair

The Tuscan-inspired Bel Air estate is a working vineyard and winery. It's valued at $28.8 million, according to The Times.

The Tuscan-inspired Bel Air estate is a working vineyard and winery. It's valued at $28.8 million, according to The Times.

Source: The New York Times

The estate was threatened by wildfires in 2017 but survived.

The estate was threatened by wildfires in 2017 but survived.

Source: Business Insider, Moraga Bel Air

Read more: Rupert Murdoch's $30 million Southern California estate is under threat from wildfires

Murdoch bought the property in 2013.

Murdoch bought the property in 2013.

Source: Business Insider

While Murdoch recovered at Moraga, 21st Century Fox received a competing bid from Comcast for $65 billion — over $12 billion more than Disney's offer.

While Murdoch recovered at Moraga, 21st Century Fox received a competing bid from Comcast for $65 billion — over $12 billion more than Disney's offer.

Source: Markets Insider

Murdoch still preferred Disney to Comcast, reportedly because of his affection for Iger. Disney eventually bumped up its offer, purchasing Fox assets for $71 billion.

Murdoch still preferred Disney to Comcast, reportedly because of his affection for Iger. Disney eventually bumped up its offer, purchasing Fox assets for $71 billion.

Source: The New York Times, Markets Insider

Read more: What Disney buying Fox means for movie and TV consumers — from Marvel to Hulu

The deal grew Murdoch's fortune. When it closed in March 2019, Murdoch became roughly $4.3 billion richer than he was before the deal was initially announced in late 2017.

The deal grew Murdoch's fortune. When it closed in March 2019, Murdoch became roughly $4.3 billion richer than he was before the deal was initially announced in late 2017.

Source: Forbes

Murdoch's net worth is now $7.35 billion.

Murdoch's net worth is now $7.35 billion.

Source: Bloomberg

The media titan shares his fortune with wife Jerry Hall.

The media titan shares his fortune with wife Jerry Hall.

Source: The Guardian

Hall, 62, is a former model who was previously in a long-term relationship with Mick Jagger. The two had a wedding ceremony in 1990 that was later declared invalid.

Hall, 62, is a former model who was previously in a long-term relationship with Mick Jagger. The two had a wedding ceremony in 1990 that was later declared invalid.

Source: The Washington Post

Hall and Murdoch tied the knot in London in 2016.

Hall and Murdoch tied the knot in London in 2016.

Source: The Guardian

Hall is Murdoch's fourth wife. He was previously married to entrepreneur Wendi Deng, who is reported to have been unpopular with his children. According to The Times, Lachlan and James had attempted to convince Murdoch not to marry Deng prior to their 1999 nuptials.

Hall is Murdoch's fourth wife. He was previously married to entrepreneur Wendi Deng, who is reported to have been unpopular with his children. According to The Times, Lachlan and James had attempted to convince Murdoch not to marry Deng prior to their 1999 nuptials.

Source: The New York Times

In early August 2019, following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 29 people total dead, the Post featured a front page calling on President Trump to "ban weapons of war." The Murdoch-owned paper's headline was noteworthy, considering the media tycoon's conservatism and previous support of Trump.

In early August 2019, following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 29 people total dead, the Post featured a front page calling on President Trump to "ban weapons of war." The Murdoch-owned paper's headline was noteworthy, considering the media tycoon's conservatism and previous support of Trump.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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