The National Enquirer's publisher paid $200,000 to obtain intimate texts between Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and his lover Lauren Sanchez, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
American Media Inc., the supermarket tabloid's publisher, reportedly paid that sum to Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez's brother, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Journal's finding parallels the conclusion reached by private investigators working for Bezos as of early February. Those investigators reportedly found that Michael Sanchez had leaked the texts to the Enquirer, although they didn't appear to conclude who might have paid for them.
Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges and publicly declared that the Enquirer's coverage of him was not politically motivated.
What role Michael Sanchez played in the Bezos controversy has been a subject of intense debate, with each side pushing its own accounts of how text messages and naked selfies of the Amazon CEO ended up in the hands of a supermarket tabloid, fueling several overlapping conspiracy theories involving national security, the White House, Hollywood and even the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The small-time talent manager’s clients included Trump associates, a cable news personality and a judge on the reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” with whom he would later wage a bitter legal fight.