The person who provided the National Enquirer with nude photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wanted to receive more than $500,000, the Daily Beast reported citing court documents, which the news website says sheds light on the exposé of the world’s wealthiest individual.
In September 2018, Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent agent, reportedly approached Andrea Simpson, a reporter at the National Enquirer about an exposé on a "Bill Gates-type, very well-known billionaire". Sanchez claimed that the man bragged to their mutual friend (court documents do not reveal his identity), about an affair with an actress.
Sanchez claimed that his friend, who allegedly received the saucy information, wanted to get a six-figure sum, while Sanchez would purportedly become the middle man in the exchange of saucy material.
By mid-October Sanchez allegedly started pressuring the National Enquirer and American Media Inc. (AMI), the tabloid’s former publisher, to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and said future delays would result in the story being sold to "one of your weak rivals". "I would prefer to avoid that", the court documents cite Sanchez as saying.
Back then, both AMI and the National Enquirer did not know the identity of the mysterious billionaire, whom Sanchez referred to as "Bill". He wanted AMI to pay him $300,000 if they published the exposé and $500,000 if they used the nude photos of the billionaire and other salacious material provided by Sanchez.
The deal between Sanchez and AMI was reportedly signed on 18 October and on that same day Sanchez revealed that "Bill" was Jeff Bezos and that the actress he had an affair was his sister, Lauren. The agreement said that Sanchez would only receive $200,000, but according to AMI this was the biggest sum they'd ever paid for a story. The deal allegedly covered "information, photographs, and text messages documenting an affair between Bezos and L. Sanchez".
After the National Enquirer published its exposé on Bezos, Sanchez filed a lawsuit against AMI, the tabloid’s former publisher, accusing it of an elaborate plot to scapegoat him and saying that he was not the only source of their report. However, court documents say that the so-called "below the belt selfie" of Jeff Bezos was received from Sanchez.
In response to the National Enquirer’s publication, Bezos hired a security consultant to find out how the tabloid obtained texts and photos from his phone. "Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information”, Gavin de Becker, Bezos’ top security consultant said in March 2019.
Earlier this year The Guardian reported that Saudi hackers hacked into Bezos’ phone after he received a video from the country’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Riyadh has categorically dismissed the allegation.