Two weeks ago Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife No.3 Wendi Deng, 47, was arm-in-arm with hunky violinist and part-time underwear model Charlie Siem, 17 years her junior, in the front row of Paris Fashion Week looking particularly smitten.
Fast forward to today and we are now being told she is really dating a slightly more seasoned “toy boy”, an infinitely more influential man who has also been known to pose shirtless for photographers: Russian President Vladimir Putin, 63.
With scant detail, let alone any factual evidence, and coinciding with April Fool’s Day, that repository of all things mind-boggling, the internet, is filled with reports that Wendi and Vlad are now an “item”.
A large grain of salt should be swallowed with this news, especially as it comes so soon after Deng’s ex, 85-year-old Murdoch, tied the knot with his 59-year-old fourth wife, leggy Texan Jerry Hall, amid such fanfare.
But even their union was met with disbelief when first reported just five months ago.
Preceding Murdoch’s divorce from Deng, there were sensational allegations of an all too intimate relationship between Deng and former British prime minister Tony Blair.
The Wendi and Vlad story began with American showbiz site Us Weekly publishing a story on Thursday night, Sydney time, about the pair, although with plenty of disclaimers that it had no more evidence than the “rumours” apparently swirling around certain elite circles across Europe and Asia.
Predictably the Daily Mail regurgitated the story on its various websites around the world in lightning-quick time and with no further detail to verify the story other than that Deng had been aboard Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s superyacht recently. Apparently Abramovich and Putin are great mates, so there you have it.
Finally, that venerated tome of all things high-society Vanity Fair jumped on the bandwagon, with the prospect of such a delicious high-profile pairing too alluring to leave well alone on the rumour mills of cyberspace.
“Putin is freshly single, after having confirmed his divorce from his wife of 30 years in 2014. The size of his fortune, like much about the man, is largely shrouded in mystery; the Russian president has contended he makes $US100,000 a year, while a former fund manager in Russia put his estimated net worth at $200 billion, which would make him the richest person in the world,” Vanity Fair says.
“The 58 aircraft, 700 automobiles, the palaces, the $1500 sweat pants Putin reportedly has at his disposal could use a woman’s touch, and who better suited than Deng, who has made a life out of giving just that to her beloveds’ expensive toys.”
Strangely the one media camp that appears to have largely ignored the rumours is the one Murdoch controls, with nary a mention of the rumoured new love making it on his local news outlets.