The story of how the National Enquirer struck a deal to obtain the world’s richest man’s texts and photos detailing his affair with Lauren Sanchez culminated in a very public blowup at a FiDi restaurant.
The story begins last fall when Michael Sanchez, the brother of Jeff Bezos’ lover, began talks with The National Enquirer about buying materials detailing his sister’s extra-marital affair with Mr. Bezos. At that time, The Enquirer’s publisher American Media Inc. was in the midst of efforts to refinance more than $400 million in debt. American Media’s CEO David Pecker initially had reservations about running such a salacious story, concerned that Mr. Bezos would sue, placing even more financial pressure on the debt-laden company.
In October Mr. Sanchez signed a contract with American Media that included an uncommon upfront payment inserted by American Media’s general counsel for media, Cameron Stratcher.
On November 7th Mr. Pecker and Mr. Stratcher met for lunch at the Cipriani Wall Street, a stone’s throw away from American Media’s offices at 4 New York Plaza. Apparently Mr. Stratcher had gone into the lunch expecting to be offered a promotion. Instead, as soon as the two men were seated Mr. Pecker launched into a profanity-laced tirade loud enough to turn heads regarding the contract with Mr. Sanchez. Mr. Pecker was upset apparently about the upfront payment and that Mr. Stratcher had not shown him the contract beforehand. Mr. Pecker concluded by suggesting Mr. Stratcher leave the company. Mr. Stratcher took Mr. Pecker up on the offer and apruptly left the lunch.
The walk from the Cipriani Wall Street to American Media’s offices at 4 New York Plaza takes less than 10 minutes. However, by the time Mr. Stratcher returned he found his key-card had been deactivated.