On Thursday, February 7, Jeff Bezos published a Medium post beating the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI Media, to the punch: Yeah, he’s sent nudes, and no, you cannot blackmail him about them. But how exactly did AMI get its digital paws on images first sent to Lauren Sanchez, including “a full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks”?
The leak was apparently separate from the leak of racy texts between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, which hit the internet a day after Bezos announced his divorce from wife MacKenzie. It was this first leak that brought the world the knowledge of the phrase “alive girl,” as in: “I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon.”
An investigation by Gavin de Becker — the investigator Bezos hired to determine who leaked the texts — has since concluded, though he declined to tell reporters what his findings were. De Becker told the Daily Beast, “Our investigation into who initially provided texts to the National Enquirer, and why it was done — that investigation is now complete. We have turned our conclusions over to our attorneys for referral to law enforcement.”
Elkan Abramowitz, the lawyer representing AMI CEO David Pecker, told ABC’s This Week that AMI’s letters to Bezos “absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail. The story was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss [Lauren] Sanchez.”
There are at least three theories, about who leaked Bezos’s photos: Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother; Lauren’s friends; and … the Saudi government. All parties have denied involvement in the photo leak. Let’s look at the claims:
Theory A: Michael Sanchez
Multiple sources reportedly told the Daily Beast that Sanchez’s brother Michael supplied AMI with the texts, which falls in line with an earlier report on ABC’s Sunday Morning that the person who leaked the photos was “well-known” to both Bezos and Sanchez. The male Sanchez had declined to comment for the story, but later denied that he had anything to do with the photos. (He did not comment on the texts at the time.)
“I had nothing to do with leak of the dick pics. That’s the important thing,” he told Vanity Fair.
In a new interview with Page Six over a month after the nude photo scandal, Michael Sanchez confirmed that he was the leaker of the sexts, and that he made a “deal with the devil” to break the story to the Enquirer, reportedly in exchange for $200,000.
However, he insisted that he did it to protect the couple by ensuring that news about their relationship would break only after they each told their respective spouses.
Still, he insists, he didn’t have any part in leaking the nude photos.
“I may have helped the Enquirer with their story,” he told Page Six. “But I never had access to the penis selfies.”
However, it’s still unclear how he had access to the sexts.
Theory B: Lauren Sanchez’s Friends
According to “Page Six,” sources think she showed the photos and texts Bezos sent her to friends “for entertainment.”
Both Sanchez siblings declined to comment to “Page Six” on the theory; the tabloid now says that multiple people are being “probed” over the source of the leak. “There are multiple possible suspects,” an anonymous source told the tabloid. “Clearly, Lauren showed these photos to her girlfriends … for entertainment.” (On January 30, the Daily Beast reported that investigators had previously considered whether the female Sanchez had been involved with the text leak, but did not find any evidence pointing to that.)
Michael Sanchez told Vanity Fair that he “never had access” to Bezos’s photos — though he did claim that that she had attempted to show him personal photos before:
“It’s clear they were sent to others. There are, like, 20 dick pics. Lauren likely shared them with multiple girlfriends, not in a malicious way, that’s not her style, but when she’s in love, she got a kick out of sharing them. One time she tried to show me one and I was like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t want to see that!”
Theory C: The Saudi Arabian Government
The intrigue doesn’t end there: Some are suggesting the pool of potential suspects might be much wider than just Sanchez’s circle, and could include … the government of Saudi Arabia, and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman specifically, per the Verge. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has denied having anything to do with the leak of Bezos’s photos, NBC News reports. Pecker also denied the claim that AMI obtained Bezos’s texts through Saudi Arabian operatives, though he did not disclose the company’s source.
Michael Sanchez also claims that Bezos considered buying AMI Media in an effort to find the source of the leak. He also maintains that he supports his sister’s relationship with Bezos, and that their love is true. ““It’s a legendary romance that will blow your mind as to just how in love they are,” he said. He also referenced Bezos’s divorce by saying, “Jeff never blinked about losing $70 billion.”
This post has been updated throughout.