RICHARD KAY: Jerry Hall was stuck in Succession… when she wanted to be in Ab Fab
For both parties, it looked like a marriage made in Heaven — a classic case of opposites attracting. Jerry Hall brought the glamour of the catwalk and the cachet of rock’n’roll royalty through her decades-long romance with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Rupert Murdoch, media titan and billionaire, brought just about everything else.
Even so, they were an unlikely couple — she mesmerising with her Texan drawl, long legs, generous mouth and loving the spotlight; he the restless deal-maker, happiest flitting by private jet and blacked-out limo from boardroom to corporate headquarters.
And of course there was that 26-year age gap. Yet somehow this culture clash seemed to work — at least to start with. In public they were tactile and affectionate, kissing and holding hands like giddy-in-love teenagers. For a woman who had traded aggressively on her beauty and sexuality, Jerry seemed to have found a contentment missing from earlier relationships.
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall leave the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017
As one friend caustically puts it: ‘Basically, Jerry is stuck in Succession [the Sky Atlantic series said to be based on the Murdoch family] when she wants to be in Absolutely Fabulous.’ Pictured: Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders in Absolutely Fabulous
Succession (pictured) is said to be based on the Murdoch family
She revealed as much in an interview well before their 2016 wedding. ‘I have gone out with younger men and they’re great fun, they’ve got enthusiasm. Stamina! But I think older men are much better lovers.’
In what now reads uncannily like a match-making application, she added: ‘I don’t want to have children, because I already have four. And I don’t want to be bossed around because I’ve got my own money, you know. So it’s got to be the right person. But I do quite like the idea of having a companion.’
Yesterday, as details emerged that they are to divorce after six years of marriage, the piquant question remained: was Rupert Murdoch, now 91, a lover with stamina or a mere companion? Or were they, after all, simply incompatible?
Jerry Hall, now 65, who had her children with Jagger, was from one world. Murdoch, the ruthless, consummate businessman, was from another. All the same, the news of their break-up was as unexpected as their first appearance in public together at the 2015 Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham.
Insiders admitted it was the most improbable of love matches. For months after their wedding, he was as infatuated with her as she seemed fulfilled with him.
They were rarely apart and embarked on a property spending spree, from an £11.25 million Georgian mansion close to the River Thames near Henley, Oxfordshire — where they spent the 2020 lockdown — to a Cotswolds manor house earmarked for restoration, and a 340,000-acre ranch in Montana near Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.
Australian media titan Rupert Murdoch is said to be divorcing his fourth wife Jerry Hall after just six years of marriage
The 91-year-old tied the knot with Hall, 65, in a low-key ceremony in London in March 2016. The couple is pictured shortly after the ceremony
The vast spread, which cost Murdoch an eye-watering £228 million, was the most romantic purchase of all, bought to reconnect Miss Hall with her childhood memories of growing up in rural Texas. They were scarcely short of places to rest their heads anyway: there was already the $50 million New York apartment, a vineyard and winery in Los Angeles, and a sheep and cattle farm in Mr Murdoch’s native Australia. As well as a Mayfair apartment for when the media mogul is in London.
He was here this week for his annual summer party, held at the Serpentine Gallery, where Jerry’s absence was the first visible sign that something was up.
She has become an indispensable presence at Murdoch’s side for these social gatherings where her slow speech and endearments to her husband, whom she calls Rupe, are as familiar as the Pol Roger champagne they serve their guests. On Monday night, those who asked about her whereabouts were simply told that she was ‘in LA’.
So what has gone wrong and how has a relationship that began with Murdoch cutting down on work to spend more time with his fourth wife soured so spectacularly? Some are convinced that the age gap was more pronounced than it at first appeared.
‘For a man of 91, Rupert is remarkably fit but even he can’t hold back the years,’ says one figure who knows the couple well. ‘He wears these soft shoes and doesn’t like to stand up for long and is obsessed with his health. He’s getting a little deaf, too.
‘She’s that much younger and still likes going to parties, going to the beach and having fun. Being a media geisha or corporate wife doesn’t amuse her.
‘Endlessly circling the globe on the company jet to be at his side for some corporate shindig is no longer much of an attraction to her, if it truly ever was.
‘The fact is Jerry’s surprisingly lazy while Murdoch is still the workaholic he has always been. I think the gloss started coming off the romance after lockdown.
‘To start with, when they were dating, she used to talk admiringly of how he was like a Texan, even though he is Australian. She loved that he was manly and an alpha-male type.’
Another insider says: ‘She had started signing off her emails “Jerry Murdoch” and I know she was complaining about losing her identity.’
It is understood there have been tensions over Jerry’s decision to restart her modelling career — she shot a campaign for Yves Saint Laurent last year.
There was also surprise when she signed on for a celebrity edition of the Antiques Road Trip series in which she took to the road in a giant 1970s Buick car.
One figure said: ‘It was beginning to look like Jerry was finding things to do so she wouldn’t have to spend quite so much time with Murdoch.
‘Of course, she loves the money and the fancy lifestyle that comes with being Mrs Murdoch and she loves the attention — but that’s not his scene at all.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in October 2015 that Murdoch and Hall were dating – days before they made their public debut as a couple at the rugby in Twickenham (pictured)
Jerry Hall and media businessman Rupert Murdoch bought a sprawling mansion to live in together in the Cotswolds
‘Is she bored? I think possibly, yes. Don’t forget she had money after splitting from Mick so she never needed to work. The modelling seems to be a way of occupying herself.’
Jerry also smokes, which Murdoch hates, and likes a drink. Then there is the family dimension. She finds the jostling for attention by Rupert’s children all rather tiresome.
As one friend caustically puts it: ‘Basically, Jerry is stuck in Succession [the Sky Atlantic series said to be based on the Murdoch family] when she wants to be in Absolutely Fabulous.’
Turn back the clock to 2016 and how very different things were. The romance had astonished both the media and showbusiness world. In many respects, Murdoch was not Hall’s type.
Since splitting from Jagger in 1999 after 22 years together (their 1990 marriage ceremony was annulled), she had gained a reputation for dating younger men. There was the film producer George Waud, banker and man-about-town Tim Attias and handsome scientist Armand Leroi.
But charming and good-looking as all these men undoubtedly were, they did not possess the wealth or idiosyncrasy she was drawn to in Rupert Murdoch.
The tycoon, whose empire includes The Sun and Times newspapers as well as Fox News in the U.S., had been divorced from his third wife, Chinese-born Wendi Deng, when he announced his engagement to Ms Hall. On Twitter he declared he was ‘the luckiest and happiest man in the world’.
Their wedding, which was blessed at a ceremony at St Bride’s, the journalists’ church in Fleet Street, suggested that after four marriages Murdoch had finally found his soulmate.
One guest recalled: ‘It was surreal and bizarre. Here was this glamorous former model, an icon of the 1970s and the man with one of the scariest reputations in the world cooing and billing like teens. He was infatuated and kept pecking her on the cheek.’ Of course, one would expect such loving gestures on a wedding day. But it then continued into married life.
Elizabeth Jagger, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Keitel and Daphne Kaster pose together at a garden party in LA in 2019
Wedding photo of Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch with their family. Back row, left to right: Georgia May Jagger, Laclan Murdoch, Prudence Murdoch, James Jagger, Gabriel Jagger, Elizabeth Murdoch, James Murdoch and Lizzie Jagger. Murdoch and Jerry Hall are seated in the middle of the picture with his daughters Chloe (left) and Grace (right) in the front row
Jerry also introduced a new circle of friends into Murdoch’s life. They included rocker Bob Geldof, who made a wickedly funny address — at Murdoch’s expense — at the wedding reception, the playwright Tom Stoppard and ex-Stones bass player Bill Wyman. Her adult children by Jagger, Lizzie, James, Georgia and Gabriel, also became part of this new circle.
Friends were convinced that this new balance in Murdoch’s life was working.
One figure, who dines regularly with the couple, told me: ‘I am staggered by the news. I was with them six weeks ago and there was no inkling that anything was wrong. They seemed perfectly happy and at ease.’
Many will wonder if Jerry has fallen victim to Murdoch’s famously decisive mindset.
‘There’s always a reason behind what Rupert decides, in business and in his private life,’ says one long-time associate. ‘It is either Rupert making one of these change-of-life decisions of the kind he has taken in the past, or something fundamentally has broken down between them.’
Divorce is unlikely to threaten Murdoch’s business empire or even seriously damage his £14 billion fortune. It is not known if Miss Hall signed a pre-nuptial agreement. However, he did have one with his third wife, Wendi Deng.
Murdoch and Hall were last seen together in public in London in August 2021, when they were pictured arriving separately at a dinner (seen). They are understood to have then left together in a shared car
Murdoch’s first wife was Patricia Booker, an Australian model. They divorced in 1967. He was married to his second, Anna, a former newspaper reporter, for more than three decades until they split in 1999. Their divorce remains the second most expensive in history at a reported cost to the mogul of £1.5 billion.
Miss Deng hit the headlines in 2011 when she slapped a man who had thrown a custard pie at her husband at a parliamentary committee during hearings into the phone-hacking scandal. When the couple split, there was speculation — denied by Miss Deng — that she had grown close to Tony Blair, the godfather of her and Mr Murdoch’s daughter Grace.
Before dating Sir Mick, Miss Hall was in a relationship with singer Bryan Ferry and was the cover star of his band Roxy Music’s 1975 album Siren.
Next month, Jerry Hall turns 66 and many will wonder if her romantic life might be over. Not if she has got anything to do with it. Men will always come and go in her life, she has said. Though she put it rather differently saying: ‘They’re the one . . . then they’re the one before the one!’
As for Rupert Murdoch, he has made a fabulously successful career out of doing the unexpected. Don’t bet against him finding another Mrs Right.
n Additional reporting: Alison Boshoff in London, Daniel Bates in New York and Barbara McMahon in Los Angeles.