Gavin de Becker is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ longtime security chief who is investigating how the National Enquirer obtained intimate photos of him and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos wrote in an open letter Thursday that American Media (AMI), the Enquirer’s parent company, tried to blackmail him with nude photos unless he and de Becker made a statement saying they “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
De Becker has accused AMI chief David Pecker, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump, of orchestrating a politically motivated hit job against Bezos, who Trump has repeatedly attacked on Twitter.
De Becker told The Washington Post, which Bezos also owns, that he does not believe the images and texts were hacked from Bezos’ phone but rather that a “government entity” somehow obtained the messages.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gavin de Becker is Leading Jeff Bezos’ Investigation Into Stolen Nude Photos
Bezos wrote in a Medium post that he has tasked Gavin de Becker with finding out how AMI obtained private photos showing him and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
“To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker,” Bezos wrote. “I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know. I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.”
The 64-year-old has long been the head of security for the Amazon founder and The New York Times reported that for the last four decades he has counseled government agencies, law enforcement, and celebrities on dealing with threats.
2. De Becker Says Bezos Photos Were Obtained by ‘Government Entity’
De Becker told Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia that he believes a “government entity” was involved in the plot.
“They have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this publication by the National Enquirer might have been politically motivated,” Roig-Franzia said on MSNBC Thursday.
“Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked, he thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages,” he added.
Bezos appeared to suggest there was a Trump connection in his Medium post.
“AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called ‘Catch and Kill’ process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign,” he wrote. “Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons.”
3. De Becker Became an Aide to Hollywood Stars After His Mother Committed Suicide
De Becker’s chief mission is to protect clients from violence. The New York Times reported that he and his sister were regularly abused by his mother, a heroin addict. His mother shot his stepfather and later killed herself when de Becker was 16.
He was taken in by family friend Miguel Ferrer, the son of the actor José Ferrer and the singer Rosemary Clooney. Clooney later hired him to be her road manager.
De Becker went on to work as Elizabeth Taylor’s assistant and later became an author, writing “The Gift of Fear,” a book advising people on how they can get peace of mind.
De Becker has investigated stalkers for celebrities like Olivia Newton-John and Cher, supervised security for public figures who visited Ronald Reagan at the White House, and worked with Ronald Goldman’s family after they sued OJ Simpson following Goldman’s murder.
4. De Becker Was Involved in Many High-Profile Cases
In 1978, de Becker founded Gavin de Becker and Associates and began to compile records of stalkers and others threatening his clients, The Washington Post reported.
A few years later, he was hired by Reagan to protect visitors at his first inauguration.
After the assassination of John Lennon in 1980, stars like Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, and Joan Rivers hired de Becker for protection.
De Becker formed the MOSAIC threat assessment system that went on to be used by law enforcement agencies around the country to protect high-risk figures.
“The way I broke down the individual elements of violence as a child became the way the most sophisticated artificial intuition systems predict violence today,” he wrote in “The Gift of Fear.” “My ghosts had become my teachers.”
5. De Becker Has a Collection Of Threatening Letters
As part of his threat assessment work, The Post reported that de Becker has compiled hundreds of thousands of threatening letters.
Via The Post:
For decades inside an unremarkable warehouse outside Los Angeles, one man helped gather among the most remarkable collections in America: Hundreds of thousands of letters, all of them worrisome. Some promised terrible violence. Others merely hinted at calamity. Some even included off-putting gifts like syringes of bodily fluid, animal corpses and hair.
They were all carefully saved and catalogued by the firm of Gavin de Becker, arguably the world’s foremost expert on threatening messages.
De Becker has charted a unique course by simultaneously offering celebrities quiet protection from the scariest elements of their fame, while also becoming world-famous in his own right as a best-selling author and go-to source for predicting assassinations and other bloody attacks.
In his book, de Becker wrote that most people who send threatening letters are seeking power from the already-powerful.
“Most human predators . . . seek power,” he wrote. “To destroy or damage something is to take its power. This applies equally to a political movement, a government, a campaign, a career, a marriage, a performance, a fortune, or a religion. ”
“To push a pie into the face of the world’s richest man is to take his power,” he added, “if only for a moment.”