Bezos Poised to Beat Defamation Suit Over Leaked Photos

Jeff Bezos is poised to defeat a defamation lawsuit brought against him by his girlfriend’s brother over nude photos of the world’s wealthiest man that were leaked to the National Enquirer.

The claim that Bezos and his security consultant told journalists that Michael Sanchez was the source of the photos was based only on hearsay and wasn’t backed by evidence, a California state court judge ruled. Sanchez, a Hollywood talent agent, is the brother of Bezos’s girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, who is an actress and media personality.

Bezos and the consultant, Gavin de Becker, were accused by Michael Sanchez of spreading “the false narrative” that he betrayed his sister by peddling a story about Bezos to the Enquirer.

In his ruling, Judge John Doyle concluded the alleged statements at the heart of the case “relate to an issue of public interest as there was widespread media coverage relating to Jeffrey Bezos’ extramarital affair and the source which leaked the affair to the media.”

William Isaacson, an attorney for Bezos and de Becker, said his clients are pleased the “baseless case” was thrown out.

“When it comes to frivolous lawsuits seeking money or attention, the law is clear -- and the law worked,” he said. “Journalists will surely take the court’s ruling into account when considering Michael Sanchez as a source.”

Tom Warren, a lawyer for Sanchez, said: “We respectfully disagree with the trial court’s ruling and look forward to vindicating Mr. Sanchez’s claims on appeal.”

The Amazon.com Inc. chairman went public last year with what he said was an extortion attempt by the National Enquirer. The magazine, according to Bezos, had threatened to publish more details of his relationship with Lauren Sanchez as well as revealing photos if he didn’t stop investigating what had prompted a January 2019 expose about their affair while Bezos was still married.

The case is Sanchez v. Bezos, 20STCV04212, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.