Like a sweeping soap opera, the saga of Jeff Bezos’ love life has it all. It’s a novella of sex, money, and power, with a good measure of political intrigue thrown in. And like all good stories, it has a villain.
In the case of Bezos, the villain has been cast as the leaker: the source that shared the Amazon CEO’s intimate text messages to the former TV host Lauren Sanchez with the National Enquirer.
In a Medium blog post that lit up the internet like a thunderbolt last week, Bezos threw out a bunch of theories about political motivations, and there has been plenty of speculation that a government entity might have got hold of his private messages.
Behind the scenes, Bezos’ interrogator-in-chief, Gavin de Becker, has reportedly homed in one person: Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez. News outlets have reported that he is now the No. 1 suspect in sourcing Bezos’ leaked missives.
Citing two sources, CNN reported on Wednesday that Michael Sanchez “was the person who tipped off the National Enquirer” about his sister’s romance with Bezos. CNN did not go as far as to say he leaked the messages.
The Daily Beast said “multiple” people at the Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., said it was Sanchez. AMI declined to comment to Business Insider.
De Becker also declined to comment. He told The Daily Beast on Sunday that his investigation into “who initially provided texts” to the Enquirer was complete, adding, “We have turned our conclusions over to our attorneys for referral to law enforcement.”
And there are other pieces in the puzzle.
While AMI’s official position is protecting its source, an attorney for the company, Elkan Abramowitz, dropped some hints about the identity of the leaker during an interview with ABC News over the weekend.
Abramowitz said the leaker was “a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years” and was “well known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss Sanchez.” He also indicated the source was a man.
Three days later, The Daily Beast reported that Michael Sanchez had passed information to the Enquirer about his Hollywood clients for years and that he had acknowledged being friends with Dylan Howard, AMI’s chief content officer.
Sanchez said in an email he sent to several publications, including Business Insider, that he talked to AMI about softening its original Bezos scoop.
Sanchez says he did not have access to intimate Bezos pictures
Business Insider has been in regular contact with Michael Sanchez for seven days. He has consistently declined to comment on the record about the allegation that he passed Bezos’ messages to the Enquirer.
Instead, he has sent often lengthy emails seeking to deflect attention to other elements of the saga, most notably to sling mud at de Becker in an apparent attempt to discredit his investigation.
On Thursday, Sanchez sent Business Insider a denial in which he focused on the intimate photos Bezos sent Lauren Sanchez, including what Howard referred to as a “below the belt selfie” or “d*ck pick.”
The Enquirer did not publish these images. It did, however, publish a series of intimate written messages in which Bezos expressed his desire for Lauren Sanchez, including: “I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon.”
Business Insider asked Michael Sanchez three times whether he had anything to do with leaking these written messages. He declined to answer, dwelling solely on the photos.
Sanchez told Business Insider that de Becker’s investigation had proved he could not possibly have gained access to the photos. Sanchez did not provide support for or explain how de Becker’s investigation had “proved” this.
He also referred to de Becker’s investigation as “Amazon investigators,” though Bezos in his blog post last week said he employed de Becker and made no reference to Amazon footing the bill.
In an email, Sanchez said: “As the ‘Amazon investigators’ proved, I was never sent the numerous penis photos Jeff Bezos sent my sister Lauren. And I never had access to the penis photos. Therefore it is impossible for me to have provided Jeff Bezos’ penis photos to The National Enquirer.”
“I’m not saying I didn’t do something,” he later told Vanity Fair. “Until I go under oath, what I can tell you now is that ever since April 20, when I met Jeff, my only goal has been to protect Jeff and Lauren.”
Sanchez went on to dismiss Bezos’ linking of the leaks to President Donald Trump, for whom Sanchez has previously expressed support, and Saudi Arabia. Sanchez speculated that the saga could be subject to several future investigations.
“Now, it’s time to look at the people who were sent the penis photos, and those who had access to the photos. Jeff Bezos’ penis photos are the heart of this scandal,” he said.
“Following Jeff’s baseless accusations that President Trump and the King of Saudi Arabia are somehow involved in his crazy conspiracy theory, his penis photos are key to the extortion investigations underway, as well as the potential investigations by the SEC, DOJ, Amazon shareholders, Washington Post, etc., which are now likely.”
Bezos’ investigation has switched focus from the leaker to AMI, which could mean that some of the political intrigue the Amazon CEO referred to is explored in more detail, such as the Enquirer’s links to Trump.
“Our investigation into what the National Enquirer and AMI did after they received the initial texts — that investigation is ongoing,” de Becker told The Daily Beast.
AMI has repeatedly denied having political motivations in publishing its story, saying last week: “American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. End of speculation — and story.”