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Nude photo used in Jeff Bezos ‘extortion’ was actually from gay escort site, explosive book claims

Emma Powys Maurice May 13, 2021
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Jeff Bezos Amazon

Jeff Bezos at the Economic Club of Washington's Milestone Celebration event in September 2018 (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

An explicit photo used in an alleged extortion attempt on Jeff Bezos was lifted from a gay escort site by his lover’s brother, a new biography has claimed.

The Amazon mogul, 57, alleged in 2019 that he was involved in an unsuccessful extortion attempt by the National Enquirer, which had obtained intimate photos and messages between him and the woman he was having an affair with, TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

One photo purportedly showed Bezos’ penis, which the National Enquirer claimed its editors decided not to publish “out of respect to the billionaire’s privacy” – but it seems the truth might be a little more complicated than that.

According to a bombshell biography, Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, the penis in the picture never belonged to Bezos in the first place.

Author Brad Stone alleges that the photo was actually grabbed by Lauren Sanchez’s now-estranged brother Michael Sanchez, from a website for gay male escorts and performers.

Sanchez allegedly sent nine “personal” photos of Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, to the Enquirer under a contract worth around $200,000 – the most the tabloid has ever paid for a scoop.

The book’s author claims Sanchez got the photos from his sister, who is said to have “frequently forwarded” Bezos’ text messages to him.

“The sibling relationship was, to put it mildly, unusual,” Stone wrote, according to the New York Post which reviewed a copy of the book.

He claims the alleged picture of Bezos was presented to the paper in a November 2018 meeting with reporter Andrea Simpson, as National Enquirer bosses Dylan Howard and James Robertson watched via FaceTime and recorded the transaction.

“Sanchez didn’t show them a picture of Bezos at all but an anonymous photograph of male genitalia that he had captured from the gay escort website Rent.men,” Stone wrote.

Michael Sanchez “later told FBI investigators for the Southern District of New York that he never actually had an explicit photograph of Bezos in his possession,” the author added.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez
Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez pictured at the Tom Ford: Autumn/Winter 2020 Runway Show (Stefanie Keenan/Getty)

However, after the National Enquirer published its “expose” the water was muddied further when Bezos made a post to Medium which suggested that Saudi Arabia was behind the tabloid’s scoop.

The following month, private security expert Gavin de Becker – a longtime friend of Jeff Bezos – wrote in the Daily Beast that Saudi Arabia genuinely had gained access to Bezos’ phone.

“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information,” he said. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI [the National Enquirer‘s parent company] was aware of the details.”

While this certainly raises further questions, Stone’s book claims there was “no conclusive evidence” to support Bezos’ allegations that Saudi Arabia was working with the National Enquirer.

Stone says the possibility that the Saudis tipped off the Enquirer or added to what it got from Michael Sanchez was “only a fog of overlapping events, weak ties between disparate figures and more strange coincidences.”

“For Bezos and his advisors, though, who were still trying to positively spin the embarrassing events surrounding his divorce, such a cloud of uncertainty was at the very least distracting from the more unsavoury and complicated truth.”

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment to the New York Post, but a representative of former AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard offered the following statement.

“The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has advised all parties that it has completed its investigation of allegations made by Jeff Bezos in February 2019, and has declined to prosecute the matter,” they said.

“We are glad that the government decided that Mr Bezos’s allegations of blackmail and extortion against personnel at The National Enquirer did not merit prosecution, as we had believed it would all along.”

Related topics: Jeff Bezos

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