Rupert Murdoch is Engaged Again. No, Seriously.

REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Rupert Murdoch at the US Open final in New York in 2017. Photo taken on September 10, 2017.

Now that he’s no longer running Fox, Rupert Murdoch probably has extra time on his hands. But he’s not planning on spending it alone.

The 92-year-old media titan is once again engaged – this time to retired scientist Elena Zhukova, a person close to Murdoch confirmed Thursday on the condition of anonymity to preserve confidences. The two will be married June 1 in a ceremony planned at Murdoch’s California estate and vineyard. This will be Murdoch’s fifth marriage.

Though Zhukova’s backstory remains somewhat unclear, multiple reports suggest that she is the mother of Dasha Zhukova, the ex-wife of oil billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, frequently described as a politically connected Russian oligarch. (The U.S. government famously seized his yacht in 2022 while attempting to enforce sanctions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.)

News of the engagement was first reported by the New York Times, which described Zhukova as a former molecular biologist who had worked at the University of California at Los Angeles.

If it feels like déjà vu, there’s a reason. Nearly a year ago, Murdoch announced his engagement to Ann Lesley Smith, a former model, singer-songwriter and police chaplain. “I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love – but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy,” he told the New York Post at the time.

But less than a month later, he called off the engagement. Vanity Fair reported that Murdoch had become “increasingly uncomfortable with Smith’s outspoken evangelical views.”

By August, though, just four months later, he had connected with Zhukova. According to the Guardian, the two met at a family gathering hosted by Murdoch’s fourth ex-wife, Wendi Deng. Soon, they were spotted on yachts together.

Before his brief engagement to Smith, Murdoch was married for six years to former supermodel and actress Jerry Hall, whom he divorced in 2022. Before that, he was married to Deng, a former News Corp employee, from 1999 to 2014. He divorced his second wife, Anna, in 1999 after 32 years of marriage. His first wife was Patricia Booker, to whom he was married from 1956 to 1967.

Murdoch’s recent busy dating history follows a tumultuous time in his career. Last fall, he stepped down from his role as chairman of Fox News parent company Fox Corp. and News Corp., becoming chairman emeritus at both companies and passing the torch to his son Lachlan – though the patriarch said he would remain “active” in the oversight of the companies, and Murdoch-watchers predicted that the famously hands-on boss would not retreat from the business entirely.

Murdoch, and the companies he founded, are still dealing with the fallout from Fox News’s coverage of the 2020 election. In late November, Murdoch was deposed as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against Fox by the voting technology company Smartmatic. Murdoch also underwent a brutal under-oath grilling by lawyers for the voting technology company Dominion, though he was able to avoid taking the stand in the case when his company reached a settlement for $787.5 million.

Fox’s lawyers had argued to the judge in the Dominion case that Murdoch and other executives should not be forced to testify in the case due to “hardships,” but the judge had offered that Murdoch might be compelled to do so anyway.