Jeff Bezos: The discreet Amazon founder’s transition to the bling-bling king

Just five years ago, no one really knew much about Jeff Bezos‘s personal life. He kept it super private, and besides what the business news talked about, people only knew basic things like he was married, had four kids, and lived in Seattle because that’s what the company shared officially. But in early 2019, everything changed when he got a divorce and started a new relationship. His life took a different turn. In the five years since then, it’s become clear that his connection with Lauren Sanchez, who used to be his friend’s wife, then his friend, then his girlfriend, and soon his wife, is more than just a short-term thing. Sanchez has played a big role in the changes happening in Bezos’s life.

Jeff Bezos used to be really private, almost serious and solemn. The only time he showed a less serious side was when he laughed, and it was a loud and distinctive laugh that got millions of views on YouTube. Even Amazon employees could download it from the company’s internal network. He wasn’t flashy, didn’t have fancy cars, and was actually an engineer who did really well at Princeton. He and his partner started the world’s biggest online bookstore in a garage, fitting the romantic West Coast story of the 2000s. But when his marriage to Mackenzie Bezos ended, so did his image of simple living. The serious millionaire disappeared, and he transformed into a guy who went from walking red carpets to being on magazine covers and throwing big engagement parties in fancy Beverly Hills houses.

Yes, it’s true that Bezos’s way of doing business changed, and so did his career and how people see him. Amazon used to be just a bookstore, and Bezos was more than a person selling books or running a small company. Now, Amazon has 1.5 million employees all over the world and is worth a huge $143 billion on the stock market. As Amazon got into movies and TV and became more glamorous, Bezos and his wife started going to fancy events like the Met Gala and the Oscars. In 2012, they went to the Met Gala that Amazon sponsored, and in 2017, they went to the Oscars because they produced a movie called Manchester by the Sea. The host, Jimmy Kimmel, even made some jokes about them. But things changed even more. Bezos doesn’t run the company anymore; in the middle of 2021, he gave that job to Andy Jassy. This gave Bezos more freedom and a chance to play around with how people see him.

Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos at the Met Gala in New York, in 2012.LARS NIKI (CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES)

In January 2019, Bezos and his wife split up, and they had to figure out how to divide his fortune of $164 billion. Surprisingly, in just three months, they came to an agreement: Mackenzie Bezos got Amazon shares worth $35 billion, and Jeff Bezos ended up with around $107 billion. He also kept The Washington Post newspaper and his space company, Blue Origin. Right after the divorce, things started changing in how people saw Bezos. A short while later, photographers caught him leaving a New York pizzeria with Lauren Sanchez, a well-known TV host from California who is six years younger, a pilot, and owns a helicopter company. She had recently separated from a famous agent named Patrick Whitesell, who had a star-studded wedding back in 2005 attended by people like Steven Spielberg and Ben Affleck. Since then, photographers have been constantly following Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez.

They’ve been happy to be a part of all this. The big changes in their lives are like the super impressive 30-carat pink diamond that Bezos gave his now-fiancée last summer on his boat called Koru. The boat is huge, the world’s largest actually, at 127 meters and with three masts. Even famous people like Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Usher have taken vacations on it. One night, the couple had dinner on the deck, and when they went back to their cabin, she found the engagement ring under her pillow. Sanchez was so surprised that she told Vogue she might have passed out a little. The magazine did a long article about her, and they did the interview in Bezos’s really big ranch in Texas, which is 1,600 square kilometers. Bezos even let them take pictures, but people on the internet made jokes about how posed the photos looked. He also made perfect margaritas for the person doing the interview and Sanchez. Of course, he talked about Sanchez, saying she’s helped him be more connected with his family. He mentioned how she always encourages him to call his kids, dad, and mom. Sanchez had nice things to say too, calling him the life of the party, very enthusiastic, and really funny.

Jeff Bezos with Lauren Sanchez

The way the couple lives and how much people see them is very different from when the rich guy lived a simple life in Seattle for 30 years. Now, everything about him has changed, even the city where he lives. In early November, he said he’s moving to Miami. He got two big houses next to each other in a fancy place called Indian Creek. This move will put him closer to his parents, who also work for the Bezos Family Foundation, and closer to Cape Canaveral, where Blue Origin is based. It also means he’ll be closer to the parties he likes to throw and to the ocean.

Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos aboard the Kura in Portofino, Italy, in June 2023.
Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos aboard the Kura in Portofino, Italy, in June 2023.

Because of their divorces and having kids (he has four in college, she has a 22-year-old in New York, a 17-year-old, and a 15-year-old), Bezos and Sanchez used to split their time between Seattle and Los Angeles. But they also spent a lot of time at the ranch in Texas and Bezos’s fancy homes in New York, Washington, D.C., and Maui. Los Angeles has become the perfect place for their new social life. Just last weekend, they had a big engagement party there. It happened at the Beverly Hills home of designer Diane von Furstenberg and Fox founder Barry Diller, who are close friends of Bezos. Diller said Lauren is like the spark in Jeff’s life, lighting him up in really good ways. He called her a great stimulant.

Lauren Sanchez, Jeff Bozos’s Girlfriend

The party got a lot of attention from gossip magazines, but the pictures were only in Vogue. Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Robert Pattinson, and Kim Kardashian were there. Kim and Lauren are good friends, and Kim mentioned in an interview that they send each other a lot of private messages on Instagram. Kim’s mom, Kris Jenner, was also at the party. This was their second party; the first one was a small gathering on the boat Koru with guests like Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Queen Rania of Jordan. About the wedding, all we know is that Sanchez wants to take Bezos’s last name. We still don’t know if it will be in the U.S. or Europe, who will be there, or what the dress will look like. Even though the details aren’t clear yet, it seems like the wedding won’t be kept private.

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