The announcement Thursday that Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son will take over his conservative news media empire raises new questions about relations within the fractured family that inspired the acclaimed HBO series Succession.
Although Lachlan Murdoch, 52, will become chairman of News Corp. and continue as CEO of Fox Corp., three of his five siblings also hold voting shares in the family trust that controls more than 40% of each company.
Rupert Murdoch’s two youngest children — Grace Murdoch and Chloe Murdoch, who he shares with the third of his four ex-wives — have only non-voting shares that don’t allow them to help make ownership decisions.
Lachlan Murdoch is reportedly estranged from younger brother James Murdoch, 50, who resigned from the News Corp. board in 2020 over what he called “certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
In last year’s biography of Lachlan Murdoch, The Successor, Australian journalist Paddy Manning wrote that a Wall Street analyst who’s watched the family for decades said it would be “fair to assume Lachlan gets fired the day Rupert dies.”
Manning also told Vanity Fair that eldest sister Prudence Murdoch MacLeod, 65, Elisabeth Murdoch, 55, and James Murdoch were determined “to bring this business to a heel.”
“That’s a point that was made to me. These siblings are biding their time,” he said.
Here are some questions tied to the looming family drama:
What are Lachlan Murdoch’s politics?
Lachlan Murdoch hasn’t publicly discussed his political beliefs but was recently described by Vanity Fair as having been “hard-core MAGA” when former President Donald Trump was in office, as opposed to his siblings who “tilted #resistance.”
A 2016 memoir by a former editor-in-chief of the Murdoch-owned newspaper the Australian also recounted episodes in which Lachlan Murdoch was “almost cheering” for a climate-change skeptic who was debating former Vice President Al Gore and in which he privately urged Australia’s prime minister to not oppose Indonesia’s plan to execute two Australians over drug-smuggling charges.
“As with his views on gun control in the United States, Lachlan’s conservatism is more vigorous than that of any Australian politician…and usually to the right of his father’s ideas,” Chris Mitchell wrote in Making Headlines.
During a rare, 2021 interview with Insider, Lachlan Murdoch didn’t address his own politics but praised Fox News for not buckling under pressure when then-President Donald Trump attacked the network’s 2020 election coverage after it predicted President Biden would win the crucial state of Arizona.
“Obviously our opinion is center-right,” he said.
“We held our own. We were happy with where we were. In a strange way, if you’ve got the left and the right criticizing you, you’re doing something right. You really are in the middle.”
What is Lachlan Murdoch’s net worth?
Rupert Murdoch and his family are worth a combined $17.1 billion, ranking them No. 92 among the world’s wealthiest people, according to Forbes.
Lachlan Murdoch’s exact share of that is unclear but Securities and Exchange Commission filings show he received total compensation of $21,748,681 as the executive chair and CEO of Fox Corp. during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022, the most recent year for which figures were available.
That amount included a $3 million salary and brought his total compensation for fiscal 2020, 2021 and 2022 to $78,578,540.
He also received $329,704 in cash and stock awards as the co-chairman of News Corp. during fiscal 2022, records show.
In 2007, Rupert Murdoch famously gave Lachlan and his siblings $100 million each in News Corp. stock and the 2019 deal that sold much of Twenty-First Century Fox’s TV and movie business to the Walt Disney Co. for $71.3 billion includes $12 billion to eventually be split among them.
Following that deal, Lachlan Murdoch spent about $150 million to buy the 10-acre Chartwell estate in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 26-room mansion, known as the “house with the golden door knobs,” was featured in the credits of the classic 1960s TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, although scenes for the show were shot elsewhere.
The following year, Lachlan Murdoch bought the Balinese-style house next door from former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs for $14.1 million, the Mansion Global website reported.
He also owns a sailing super yacht, the Sarssia, on which the Murdoch clan — minus James Murdoch — took a trip in July after gathering in the village of Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
In 2021, Lachlan Murdoch paid nearly $30 million for for a two-story boat house with two deepwater docks, four moorings and a pool in Point Piper, Australia, a suburb that juts into Sydney Harbor, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Who is Lachlan Murdoch’s wife?
Lachlan Murdoch and Australian model Sarah O’Hare were married in February 1998 in what People magazine described at the time as a “highly secret ceremony” at Rupert Murdoch’s secluded estate near the Australian capital of Canberra.
The list of 100 guests reportedly included actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married at the time.
Sarah Murdoch was born in London and grew up in Syndey, where she attended a performing arts school and studied ballet before being told she was too tall to dance professionally, according to Vogue.
In 2000, she appeared in an episode of Friends and had a featured role in the 2001 romantic comedy movie Head over Heels, according to the IMDb website.
Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch have three children, sons Kalan Alexander and Aidan Patrick, and daughter Aerin Elisabeth.
Who is James Murdoch?
James Murdoch ran Twenty-First Century Fox from 2015 until the Disney sale, then founded Lupa Systems, a private investment company where he’s CEO.
He and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, also co-founded the Quadrivium Foundation, which he funded with a $100 million donation, a portion of which was donated to political causes during the 2020 election campaign, CNBC reported in 2021.
The couple also donated more than $20 million to support Biden, groups backing him and opposing Trump, and others, CNBC said.
They live in New York City with their three children.
Who is Elisabeth Murdoch?
Elisabeth Murdoch is Rupert Murdoch’s second-oldest daughter and his oldest child with his second wife.
She was the managing director of the former British Sky Broadcasting TV network, which her father partly owned, but left the company in 2000 after being passed over for a promotion to CEO, according to the Guardian.
Elisabeth Murdoch formed an independent TV production company, Shine Group, which was bought by News Corp. in 2011 for $673 million, of which she received $214 million, according to the Guardian.
She was formerly married to British public relations executive Matthew Freud, a great-grandson of psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud, with whom she shares two children, Charlotte and Samson.
In 2017, she married artist Keith Tyson, who won Britain’s Turner Prize in 2002.
Who inspired each Succession character?
In August, three months after Succession ended its four-season run, creator Jesse Armstrong finally confirmed that the show grew out of a script he wrote “about Rupert Murdoch and his family — the real people,” according to the Independent.
Although he stopped working on it, Armstrong said, he decided “many years later” that it was a “really great idea” and began working on what turned into Succession.
Amstrong didn’t specify the templates for patriarch Logan Roy’s four children and, unlike Murdoch, the only child from Roy’s first marriage is a son, not a daughter.
Various theories have identified elements of Lachlan Murdoch in both middle brother Kendall Roy and youngest brother Roman Roy, with the same going for James Murdoch.
In 2019, James Murdoch told the New Yorker that he didn’t watch the show, although Vanity Fair reported last year that his older brother had accused him of leaking family stories to its writers.
Meanwhile, it’s widely accepted that daughter Siobhan “Shiv” Roy was inspired by Elisabeth Murdoch.
Her husband has even said she found the show “rough to watch,” according to the British inews website.