Jeff Bezos’ involvement in helicopters contributed to the revelation of his affair with Lauren Sanchez.
Amazon executives suspected Jeff Bezos was on the verge of divorcing his wife when they found their boss developing an unusual interest in helicopters — a mode of transportation he had previously hated.
The married founder of Amazon was secretly dating Lauren Sanchez, the owner of Black Ops Aviation and a helicopter pilot in her own right, during the summer of 2018.
According to Brad Stone’s new book “Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire” (Simon & Schuster), company executives were “perplexed” when they discovered the budget charges for Black Ops, which Bezos employed to film a test flight for his secretive Blue Origin space enterprise.
“It was another incomprehensible transition to ponder since, as they all knew, Jeff Bezos detested helicopters,” Stone writes in his follow-up to his 2013 bestseller, “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.” Stone was granted access to Amazon executives for his follow-up.
Sanchez, a voluptuous former Fox News anchor in Los Angeles, accompanied Bezos to his vast Texas ranch in July 2018 for the ninth test flight of the “New Shepard” rocket. Sanchez was also married at the time to celebrity agent Patrick Whitesell, president of the Endeavor talent agency, who introduced her to Bezos in 2016. (According to Stone, the date of the affair is unknown.)
Before their affair was disclosed months later by the National Enquirer, the “guarded” Bezos maintained a “integrated union” with MacKenzie, his 25-year-old wife and mother of their four children. In April 2018, the world’s wealthiest man traveled with his family to an ice hotel in Norway to celebrate his wife’s birthday, Stone reports, citing court documents.
However, by the fall of 2018, Amazon executives found that their normally oriented boss was distracted and becoming increasingly difficult to find, Stone reports. And helicopters, which he had once despised, had developed into something of an obsession. Bezos’ holding company acquired one, and Amazon’s controversial plan to provide helipads at a planned second headquarters in Long Island City “came directly from the top” and contributed to the deal’s demise in 2019.
“To clarify, I did have a relationship with this woman,” Bezos told his top executives as he attempted to stay ahead of the Enquirer’s disclosures, which included leaked photographs and steamy messages. “However, the story is totally erroneous and out of sequence. MacKenzie and I have had mature, fruitful discussions about it. She is perfectly good. The children are doing well. News outlets are having a field day. All of this is extremely distracting, so we appreciate your commitment to the business.”
Bezos declared his divorce in a tweet on Jan. 9, 2019, in the aftermath of the National Enquirer report. Stone writes that dozens of current and former staff were “surprised and saddened” by Bezos’s affair.
They were surprised, above all, by a new reality: “Their infallible and righteous leader was, after all, a flawed human being.”