Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-American entrepreneur, is renowned as a media mogul and one of the most astute dealmakers in the history of the media industry. His influence is obvious, whether you think it positive or negative, and was exerted through his pivotal role in the establishment of two major media corporations: Fox Corporation and News Corporation.

The mark he left on the media world was so strong that HBO’s Succession, an award-winning business drama that was heavily inspired by him and his family, became one of the most popular shows in the world.

Rupert Murdoch’s net worth as of 2023 is $8.26 billion. The combined net worth of the Murdoch family is $17.3 billion.

Murdoch is set to retire at the end of November 2023 and passes the reins of the news empire to Lachlan Murdoch, his eldest son.

Dive into this full breakdown of Murdoch’s life, career, net worth, and more to learn from his successes and failures.

Rupert Murdoch’s Net Worth Breakdown:

In contrast to many billionaires who made their fortunes in private companies and other ventures, most of Rupert Murdoch’s investments and income are widely accessible to the public. The net worth is based on the value of his stake at Fox Corp. and News Corp., his liquid assets, his yearly compensation, and the pension plan for when he retires. Here’s how his net worth breaks down.

Asset or Source of Income Contribution to Net Worth
Stake in Fox ~$3-4 billion
Stake in News Corp. $1.3 billion
Fox Corporation annual comp. $17+ million
Liquid assets ~$3.2 billion
Divorce settlement -$1.7 billion
Total Net Worth $8.26 billion

Rupert Murdoch’s Early Life

Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, in Melbourne, Australia. Rupert learned the ropes of the media industry from his youngest age, following the footsteps of his father, Sir Keith Murdoch who worked as a newspaper publisher.

Murdoch studied at Geelong Grammar School in Australia. He later obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Oxford University in England. He studied politics, philosophy, and economics.

The Story of How Rupert Murdoch Became a Multi-Billionaire

In 1952 when Rupert was 21, his father passed away. Murdoch inherited The News of Adelaide, his father’s small newspaper company based in Adelaide, Australia. His business acumen and media knowledge started showing almost immediately.

Let’s dig deeper into the story of how the Murdoch empire was built over the years.

Rupert Murdoch’s First Acquisitions in the Media Industry

In a matter of months, Murdoch revitalized his father’s company and started expanding it locally, as well as internationally.

For starters, he purchased several local papers and founded a national publication named The Australian in 1964.

Rupert Murdoch reading a newspaper
Image courtesy of The Australian

In 1968, he bought News of the World, the highly profitable newspaper that closed three decades later after a scandal with the paper’s journalists who were caught illegally hacking phones to obtain information to publish in the newspaper.

In 1969, he purchased The Sun, a struggling tabloid from the UK. He transformed The Sun and turned it into a popular newspaper focused on sensational stories and scandals.

In the 1970s, Murdoch started buying papers in the US. He started with two Texas newspapers, followed by the San Antonio Express-News in 1973 and The New York Post purchase in 1976.

News Corp. became a reality in 1980. This was the venture that would turn into one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.

A year later, Rupert Murdoch purchased The Sunday Times and The Times of London. In 2007, he merged News Corp. with Dow Jones, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal.

Rupert Murdoch
Image courtesy of the BBC

The Beginnings of the Fox Broadcasting Business

The most profitable venture of Rupert Murdoch to date is Fox. In 1984, he bought Marc Rich’s stake in 20th Century Fox for a whopping cost of $250 million. Marc Rich had made trade deals with Iran that the US sanctioned, so he had to sell his stocks at the company.

Following this acquisition, Murdoch bought all TV stations owned by John Kluge. He also gave up his Australian citizenship and became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1985 in order to meet the legal requirement for owning a TV network in the States.

The stations he bought were the backbone of the Fox Broadcasting Company. Using those six stations, Rupert founded what would become one of the biggest media companies in the world in 1986.

In 1986, Rupert set up Fox News, a program that is one of the most-watched news programs in the US to this day. Other holdings of the Fox Corp include TMZ, the entertainment network, Studio Ramsay Global, etc.

In essence, Murdoch established a new venture and dedicated decades to transforming it into an industry powerhouse. By acquiring film studios and amalgamating them with local TV stations, he founded the renowned Fox and News Corp., which continues to thrive in the media market even today.

After he became a US citizen, Murdoch turned Fox and News Corp. into the fourth broadcast network in the US. Fox News became a force in cable news.

By 2013, Murdoch was listed as the richest foreign-born man in the US, according to Forbes. His net worth at this point was over $13 billion. That same year, he split Fox and News Corp. into two different companies: News Corp. and 21st Century Fox.

The first included global print publishing assets, while the latter focused on TV, entertainment, and film assets.

In 2014, Murdoch bought Move. Inc., an online real estate business.

The Bid on Dow Jones

Murdoch made a bid to take over Dow Jones for $5.6 billion in 2017. Dow Jones was the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, one of the most-respected newspapers in the US that has been enormously popular around the globe for decades.

The Wall Street Journal was founded in 1889 and for a long time, it dominated the business publishing industry. The owners of the newspaper since 1902 were the Bancroft family, but Murdoch made them a bid they couldn’t resist.

He offered them roughly $2.25 billion above the market price for Dow Jones, a deal that they simply couldn’t refuse.

In 2009, 14 months after the closing of the deal with Dow Jones, News Corp devalued its acquisition by $2.8 billion.

Acquisition of Sky Television

In 1988, Murdoch made one of his smartest investments when he bought a controlling stake in Europe’s massive satellite broadcaster, Sky Television. When he acquired Sky Television, he significantly increased the influence of News Corp., not to mention earned grand profits from subscriptions.

Sky Television was soon accompanied by Sky News, a highly profitable cable news channel that remains incredibly popular today.

Sale of the Fox Empire

In 2019, Murdoch sold the majority of his stake in Fox to Disney in a $71.3 billion deal. This sale included the Hollywood studio and a 39% stake in Sky TV. The family trust that Murdoch still controls has a 17% stake in Fox, worth over $12 billion.

The Disney deal includes the Fox interest in Sky, a part that Disney agreed to sell to Comcast. It doesn’t include the Murdoch family’s stake in News Corp., the owner of the Times, the Sun, and the Wall Street Journal. It also doesn’t include the family’s holding in New Fox including the Fox News channel and Fox TV network.

After the sale, Rupert and his eldest son Lachlan continued working together with Lachlan assigned as the chief executive and chairman of New Fox, and Rupert as the co-chairman.

Rupert Murdoch and his sons

Rupert Murdoch’s Income after the Sale

Today, Murdoch is the chairman emeritus of Fox Corp. and News Corp. At the end of November, he will retire and hand the reins of his empire to Lachlan, his eldest son.

For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.” – he says in his memo.

When Murdoch dies, the voting shares in the companies will go to four of his children: Lachlan, Elisabeth, Prudence, and James Murdoch. The two children he has from another marriage stand to inherit a different fortune in the form of a deal with the companies.

The four beneficiaries will own a 42% voting stake in Fox Corp. and a 39% voting stake in News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch’s 2023 compensation at Fox includes:

  • Annual base salary of $5 million
  • $4.4 million in incentive pay
  • $7.6 million in stock awards

In 2023, his total compensation increased by 24% to $22.9 million. His son Lachlan’s compensation, on the other hand, stands at $21.8 million in 2023.

According to Business Insider, Rupert Murdoch also owns shares in News Corp. worth $1.58 billion and has a $142 million pension plan at Fox Corporation.

Who’s Lachlan Murdoch?

Lachlan, Rupert’s eldest son, is the successor to the media empire. He will soon become the chairman of both companies – News Corp. and Fox Corp. when Rupert Murdoch retires.

Lachlan was the general manager of Queensland Newspaper and a publisher of The Australian, a newspaper formed by his father. He worked as an executive at News Corp until 2005 and was appointed a non-executive co-chairman of the company in 2014.

In June 2015, he became the Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox.

Controversies and Scandals

Such a profitable career is bound to raise some controversies and, in the case of Rupert Murdoch, there were quite a few.

Phone-Hacking Scandal

The phone hacking scandal at News of the World is still discussed around the world.

Rupert Murdoch blamed the journalists for conspiring to cover up their crimes, claiming that they hid their actions from his son, James Murdoch, and that no one knew who their source of information was.

On the second day of testimony, he said:

“I think in newspapers, the reporters do act very much on their own, they do protect their sources, they don’t disclose to their colleagues what they are doing.”

The investigations on the case were conducted between 2005 and 2007 and they showed that the targets were celebrities and politicians, as well as members of the British Royal Family. In 2011, it was revealed that the reporters hacked the phones of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, as well as the victims of the London bombings in 2005.

All this led to high-profile resignations – including Rupert Murdoch’s resignation as the director of News Corp., and his son’s James resignation as executive chairman. Les Hinton resigned from the role of chief executive at Dow Jones, while Tom Crore resigned from the position of legal manager at News International.

News of the World was closed in July 2011, after a total of 168 years of publication.

man reading news of the world
Image courtesy of The Conversation

Theranos Scandal

Murdoch was also one of the investors in the Theranos scandal. Elizabeth Holmes, a scam artist like no other, convinced the masses that she could run a wide range of blood tests using tiny blood samples using new technology. Her idea was to create a patch that tests minor blood samples and offers treatment.

Basically, she offered easier and cheaper blood tests to the investors, and she promised billions in return. If she were telling the truth, this would have been a massive development with the potential to save millions of lives. Unfortunately, she heavily overhyped the technology and made various false claims to lead investors on.

This was one of the biggest reputation scandals in the world.

Patients were often misdiagnosed, some with devastating diagnoses like cancer. In 2022, Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors on four counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

Fox News’ Election Fraud Claims

Murdoch was also recently associated with the role of Fox News in promoting false election fraud claims in the presidential election of 2020. Fox News settled a defamation case for $787.5 million with Dominion Voting Systems after airing false claims about the company helping to ‘rig’ the 2020 election against President Donald Trump.

Divorce Settlements

Rupert Murdoch has been through four marriages. His first marriage was to Patricia Booker in 1956, with whom he had his first child. After divorcing Patricia, he went on to marry Anna Maria Torv in 1967, followed by Wendi Deng in 1999, and Jerry Hall in 2016.

His divorce from Anna Torv significantly impacted Rupert Murdoch’s net worth. The divorce settlement, totaling $1.7 billion, marked the most expensive of all his marital separations.

When Rupert Murdoch divorced his fourth wife in 2022, he announced a fifth engagement with Lesley Smith, but he called it off soon after.

What Else Does Rupert Murdoch Invest In?

Assets like real estate, jets, and cars, make for billions in Rupert Murdoch’s net worth. Let’s take a look at what else the billionaire invests in.

Real Estate

In 2005, Rupert Murdoch bought a 20-room apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan on the top floor at 834 Fifth Avenue for $44 million. The residence is spread across 4000 square feet and three floors, making it one of the largest and most valuable apartments in the area.

In 2013, Murdoch bought a 16-acre Bel-Air property in Los Angeles for $428 million. The property is now a winery named ‘Moraga’.

In 2019, he bought a Georgian property that was Grade 2 listed, for $14.5 million. The property has 11 bedrooms and an infinity pool. He lived there with Jerry Hall.

In 2020, the couple also bought Great Tew Manor for over $15 million.

In 2021, he and Jerry Hall bought a $200 million cattle ranch in Montana from the Koch family. The ranch is spread across 340,000 acres.

In May 2023, he listed several NYC apartments for sale, asking for $80 million.

Because the real estate market in most of these regions has continued to grow tremendously since he made these purchases, his real estate holdings are likely worth much more today.

Car Collection

Murdoch has amassed an impressive car collection that includes, but is not limited to:

  • Range Rover Autobiography worth about $140,000
  • W220 Mercedes-Benz S Class worth over $40,000
  • Mercedes-Maybach S600 worth over $200,000
  • Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge worth about $400,000

Private Jet

Rupert Murdoch owns at least one private jet – the Gulfstream G650ER by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, worth over $80 million.

What Can We Learn From Rupert Murdoch’s Success?

Rupert Murdoch’s success and his media empire teach us how important courage and smart business decisions are for success. He has been expanding his media empire fearlessly, using his knowledge of the changing global market, and seizing the right opportunities at the right time.

Murdoch has never backed down from a challenge and is always determined to make decisive, strong decisions whenever he can. He is well-known for his ability and knowledge in the world of mergers and acquisitions, showing no fear when entering negotiations.

Murdoch has also demonstrated an ability to bounce back from challenges and adapt fast. He shows that, for long-lasting business success, you need flexibility and fast thinking.

Today, even though the chairman of Fox is retiring, he still plans to watch the progress of the companies he built and share his input, even though he hands the media business into the hands of his children.

This shows us that, when you love something, it is not difficult to keep working on it, even when you are over 90 years old!