Los Angeles: He was the billionaire mogul and she was the beautiful former executive at his giant Asian media company Star TV who, when faced with a pie-throwing assailant, jumped to her feet and defended her man.
Unlike most fairytales, the marriage between News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng will not have a happy ending.
After months of rumours and denials the marriage was on the rocks, Mr Murdoch on Thursday filed for divorce in the New York Supreme Court.
The filing stated the "relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably".
Michael Wolff, Mr Murdoch’s biographer, said: ‘‘Wendi once told me that this is his reaction when things go wrong in business or his personal life. He makes a decision and it’s over. He feels bad for a day and then forgets about it.’’
Mr Murdoch, 82, and Ms Deng, 44, married 14 years ago on the mogul's 50m yacht, the Morning Glory, in New York Harbour and the couple had two daughters, 11-year-old Grace, and nine-year-old Chloe.
Mr Murdoch requested that custody of the couple’s daughters be shared between him and Ms Deng, a Chinese-born graduate of Yale University 38 years his junior.
A pre-nuptial agreement signed before their 1999 wedding will dictate Ms Deng’s claim to a share of his $US11 billion wealth. His second wife, Anna, reportedly received a $US1.7 billion divorce settlement.
A former nanny to the couple, who was previously described by a spokesman for the Murdochs as a ‘‘disgruntled former employee’’, said last year that Ms Deng ‘‘curses Rupert all the time. A lot of f-words. She’s always yelling, crying’’. She added: ‘‘Everyone who works for her hates her and is scared of her.’’
Ms Deng embarrassed her husband early in their marriage by telling an associate in Hong Kong that ‘‘Rupert takes Viagra, but he doesn’t really need it’’.
Having grown up poor in Jiangsu, China, she moved to the US in 1988 with an American couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, who had been working in China and sponsored her through university.
Mr Cherry left his wife for Ms Deng after an affair. They married in 1990 but divorced. Ms Deng then met Mr Murdoch while working at a News Corporation subsidiary in Hong Kong.
Recent reports have claimed that Ms Deng had ‘‘immersed herself’’ in a circle including Tony Blair, Nicole Kidman and Bono, and that Mr Murdoch was rarely present. Tensions are also believed to have mounted between Ms Deng and Mr Murdoch’s older children, who were said by one News Corp executive only to ‘‘do their best to be courteous’’ around her.
It is Mr Murdoch's third failed marriage, with little time between divorces.
He divorced his first wife, Patricia Booker, in 1967 after 11 years of marriage and the same year he married Anna Maria Torv.
They were together for 31 years before their 1999 divorce.
The same year, Mr Murdoch married Ms Deng.
Mr Murdoch has built a $US60 billion global media empire, and, ironically, earlier this week the company's shareholders voted to split the business into two publicly traded companies.
21st Century Fox will hold the TV and movie interests, while News Corp will hold the newspaper and publishing assets.
Ms Deng became a YouTube sensation in 2011 when she was sitting behind Mr Murdoch as he testified before a British parliamentary committee following the UK phone hacking scandal.
As assailant Jonathan May-Bowles approached with a pie aimed at her husband, Ms Deng, a former volleyball player, jumped to her feet and launched her right hand at Mr May-Bowles.
While a News Corp spokesperson said the divorce would have no impact on the company, Mr Murdoch's second wife Anna, who had daughter Elisabeth and sons Lachlan and James with Mr Murdoch, reportedly pocketed $US1.7 billion in the divorce, including $US110 million in cash.