By Carlo Versano
Gavin de Becker has been operating in elite, high-profile circles for nearly four decades, but very few knew his name before Jeff Bezos mentioned it on Thursday in his explosive allegations that a tabloid publisher attempted to blackmail him over explicit photos.
De Becker, Bezos' longtime private security consigliere, has a star-studded pedigree that spans 40 years.
He attended high school with the son of famed crooner Rosemary Clooney, who eventually hired him as her road manager. He served as personal assistant to megastar Elizabeth Taylor and investigated stalkers for Olivia Newton-John and Cher. He was a close friend of Carrie Fisher and eulogized the "Star Wars" actress at her funeral, ran security for President Ronald Reagan, and worked for the family of Ron Goldman after his sensationalized murder in the home of O.J. Simpson's slain ex-wife. The list goes on.
Now he's well-known among the red carpet crowd as a guardian-fixer-type for the rich and famous. More recently, as part of his dedication to the safety and privacy of his (very wealthy) clients, he started a remote terminal at LAX for the well-heeled, promising a "peaceful" and pampered journey from check-in to boarding away from the prying eyes of the hoi polloi or the snapping shutters of the paparazzi.
As the security chief for the richest man in the world investigating a multi-layered web of deception involving a supermarket tabloid, de Becker has been thrust into a national maelstrom over the dark art of political hit jobs, featuring Silicon Valley billionaires, tabloid moguls, the president of the United States, the special counsel, and even the Saudi royal family.
The 64-year-old de Becker built a profile in Hollywood that coincided first with the rise of tabloid culture, followed by the explosion of social media and all the landmines it presented for public figures. Weeks ago, Bezos tasked de Becker with looking into how American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, obtained intimate text messages Bezos had traded with his girlfriend. Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, publicly announced their divorce just before AMI published those texts.
In the course of his investigation, de Becker reportedly came to believe that AMI's interest in Bezos was politically motivated, based on Bezos' ownership of The Washington Post. AMI and its president David Pecker have long had a cozy relationship with President Trump ー who has been vocal on Twitter about his animus toward Bezos and the Post ー and were granted immunity in the special counsel's investigation into payments of hush money to women who said they had affairs with Trump.
Bloomberg reported Friday that federal prosecutors are reviewing evidence to determine if the company violated its immunity deal.
A Washington Post reporter who spoke with de Becker told Cheddar that he suspected embarrassing photos of Bezos were intercepted by a "government entity" and forwarded to AMI. De Becker has not said that publicly and has not provided evidence to support that theory.
For de Becker, becoming associated with a nude selfie scandal involving a billionaire is perhaps an odd capstone to a career mainly focused on keeping celebrities safe. But as of the last four decades, it's fitting. As Bezos alluded to in his post, whatever de Becker discovered in his investigation was enough for AMI to come after a man with unlimited resources to try and stop it.