Like all riveting tabloid sagas, this one dazzles with betrayal, blackmail, international intrigue, big money and an unexpected twist. Earlier this year, after a protracted legal battle, Jeff Bezos, a man who presides over a planetary fortune estimated at $186 billion, was awarded $218,000 in legal fees — a fraction of the $1.7 million requested and a pittance to the billionaire — incurred in an unsuccessful defamation case brought against him by his mistress turned girlfriend Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael Sanchez.
Sanchez claimed in his suit, which is now on appeal, that Bezos falsely accused him of leaking private texts to the National Enquirer that not only revealed the romantic relationship between then-married Bezos and also then-married Lauren Sanchez, but also included a salacious cache of photos of both Bezos and Sanchez. A bit of a professional dilettante who’s been a PR flack, a producer for MTV and a small-time talent manager, Sanchez has steadfastly maintained his innocence, though he does appear to admit to being contacted by the Enquirer after they had already been provided with the texts, while Bezos penned a blogpost in early 2019 that bizarrely suggested Saudi Arabia might have been behind the leak — the international intrigue — and accused the Enquirer of extortion and blackmail.
Though multiple unnamed sources inside the Enquirer’s parent company AMI pegged Sanchez as the source of the leak, as was first reported in The Daily Beast in February 2019, and The Wall Street Journal cited “people familiar with the matter” who claim Sanchez was paid $200,000 for the information, Sanchez has more recently claimed vindication after a former Enquirer reporter claimed in court papers that it was not Sanchez who first tipped off the tabloid but rather — here’s the twist, kids — Lauren Sanchez’s ex-husband Patrick Whitesell. Whitesell, executive chairman of the powerhouse talent and media agency Endeavor has categorically denied the allegations and, through a spokesperson, called the reporter’s bombshell nothing more than a “desperate attempt from Michael Sanchez to perpetuate this odd and tiresome circus.” And the band plays on….
All of this, specifically the $218,000 he’s now legally obligated to pay Bezos, not to mention no-doubt bank account draining legal fees of his own, may or may not have something to do with the fact that Michael Sanchez and his fashionista husband Casey Ashby, a marketing executive with Gucci, have put a West Hollywood, Calif., bungalow up for sale at a whisper under $2.5 million. Sanchez has not lived in the home for quite some time and uses the property as a rental.