Movers & Shakers
Sarah O’Hare Murdoch
Hail the New Queen of All Media! What can we expect from Lachlan Murdoch's stunning, somewhat mysterious wife?
It’s not that fame, attention and power are unfamiliar to Sarah O’Hare Murdoch.
The 51-year old, London-born, Aussie-bred, former model has been married to Lachlan Murdoch, the tattooed scion and newly named head (aka Succession Winner) of the Murdoch empire for over 20 years. But now, Lachlan has taken over the reins of a massive enterprise that spans continents: hundreds of newspapers (including The Wall Street Journal), a publishing company (Harper Collins), a film studio, and dozens of television channels—both broadcast and cable (Fox).
Latest estimates put the empire’s worth at upwards of $40 billion. This means that Sarah could easily become one of the most powerful women in media—if she chooses. Imagine the pillow talk. It could make or break businesses—and political careers.
Here’s what we do know:
A philanthropic powerhouse in her own right, Sarah is no stranger to the global gaze. She originally wanted to be a ballet dancer but was told, according to sources, that at five feet, ten inches, she was too tall. She moved on to modeling at 17, landing in two Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions and on numerous Vogue covers.
She called herself a “self conscious, skinny, gawky teenager,” “uncomfortable in my own skin.” But at the same time, she knew that they knew: “They just took one look at me and sent me on a whole lot of appointments that day, and I started working the next day,” she said in a 1993 interview.
Her first date with Lachlan was noted in 1998 by the Sydney Morning Herald (decidedly not owned by the Murdochs): “Fresh from a trip to the US, Murdoch Jnr. was sighted on Saturday night dining with Australian WonderBra model Sarah O’Hare in a Surfers Paradise restaurant. The pair were casually clad—he in a loud Hawaiian shirt, she sporting a shoestring strap black singlet top sans underwear of the miracle, push-up variety and both with tattooed forearms—at Fellini’s in Broadbeach. Observers report there was much affection between the couple, who canoodled between courses.”
Their 1999 wedding took place “in a specially constructed chapel on the Murdoch family’s private New South Wales estate,” according to The Guardian. Rumored guests included Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann.
While marital longevity doesn’t run in the family (Rupert has been married four times and counting), these Murdochs seem to have a tight bond and are devoted to their three children—sons Kalan, 16, and Aidan, 14, and daughter Aerin, 10.
Known for a look that could best be summed up as “aggressively quiet luxury” Sarah is also sporty, and has been spotted making gym runs in socks and Birkenstock slides. While Lachlan’s younger brother, James, and his wife, Kathryn, are vocal critics of Murdochian politics, Sarah is said to be supportive of her husband’s career decisions.
Lachlan currently commutes between Australia and his day job in NYC, but Sarah and the kids relocated to Sydney after receiving a cold shoulder in LA, despite dropping a reported $150 million on a Bel Air estate. According to Vanity Fair, “Lachlan had to flee Los Angeles because the Murdoch legacy was so toxic.” They also own a ranch in Aspen that comes equipped with two outdoor kitchens and its own art gallery.
According to the Sydney Morning Telegraph, Lachlan gave his wife a $30-million motor yacht, Istros, for her 50th birthday. (Not a bad gift, but a mere placeholder for the soon-to-be delivered $150 million superyacht.) For their guests’ convenience, the LA Times reports that Lachlan bought a boat shed in Australia for it for about $29.8 million. (Some people’s definitions of sheds are different from ours.)
Sarah tried to navigate the well-worn path from modeling to acting in the 2001 movie, Head over Heels, that, according to the Daily Mail, was so bad she never acted again. Bravely, even the Murdoch-owned Sunday Territorian ran a review titled “Head Over Toilet Bowl.”
Later, in 2010, when she was hosting Australia’s Next Top Model, she famously announced the name of the wrong winner. “When the producers scream into her earpiece that she made this mistake, “[Sarah] goes sheet white . . . I was scared she was going to keel over,” said Amanda Ware, the model who rightfully won.
Now deeply devoted to her philanthropic endeavors, Sarah has a particular focus on those related to child welfare, including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. In 2020, she and her hubby created a $5 million endowment to fund child health research, technology and genomic precision medicine. She is also a vocal advocate for gay rights and recently donated $1 million to Sydney’s new Queer museum, Qtopia.
Will Sarah take center stage with a combo of fashion prowess and power philanthropy? She was recently featured in Vogue Australia for the launch of her toolkit to help kids cope with the increasing number of natural disasters. The kit includes mental health resources, a picture book, and a hand toy—but she’s not playing around. Could she be the Murdoch climate-change whisperer we need?
Hero photo of Sarah O'Hare Murdoch at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar party by Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com