Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos saw his text messages fall into the wrong hands and ultimately sold to the National Enquirer for hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a new report.
The private text messages Bezos sent to his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez were obtained by her brother, Michael Sanchez, and sold to the National Enquirer for $200,000, The Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing sources who claim to have knowledge of the negotiations. In a wide-ranging report on Monday evening, the Journal said that Michael Sanchez started discussions with the National Enquirer in the fall about selling the texts to the tabloid. Sanchez, a talent agent, negotiated for weeks with the tabloid before turning over the texts, according to the report.
Bezos and Lauren Sanchez found themselves on the cover of the National Enquirer earlier this year after the tabloid published several private messages and images between the couple. Bezos quickly investigated the matter and promised to fight the Enquirer after it allegedly threatened the Amazon chief with publishing even racier messages. Since then, the battle between Bezos and the tabloid has gone quiet.
According to the Journal, when Michael Sanchez discussed with the Enquirer the relationship Bezos had with his sister last year, the tabloid had already been investigating whether they were having an affair.
During those conversations, the Journal‘s sources said that American Media CEO David Pecker questioned whether publishing Bezos texts would be a good idea. He reportedly feared that Bezos would sue American Media, which publishes a variety of tabloids and other publications in addition to the Enquirer, and put the company in peril.
For his part, Sanchez reportedly signed a lucrative offer with the Enquirer. He was paid upfront before publication and had the option of selling the content to other outlets within a month if the Enquirer didn’t publish the texts, according to the Journal‘s sources.
Sanchez has denied the allegations brought against him. In a statement to the Journal, he called the notion that he sold the text messages “old rumors” and said he wouldn’t “dignify” it.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment on the report.