She is one of the most eligible women in the world and he is one the rising stars in the modelling world.
But when Wendi Deng, the ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was photographed strolling hand-in-hand on a Caribbean beach with Hungarian model Bertold Zahoran it raised more than a few eyebrows.
Not so much their age difference as he is just 21 years old and she is 48 but her choice of a man who is little known outside the fashion industry.
Zahoran, from a small town in Hungary, also happens to be 64 years junior to Deng’s former billionaire husband who is one of the most recognisable names in the world.
Deng and Zahoran went public with their romance when a photo of the couple standing together on the island of St Barts was published on his Instagram account – much to the delight of his 24,000 followers.
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Romance: Hungarian model Bertold Zahoran, 21, from a small town in Hungary, is dating 48-year-old Wendi Deng, former wife of media mogul husband Rupert Murdoch. The couple attended a Halloween party together dressed as ghouls, above, but did not reveal their relationship until the New Year
Mummy’s boy: Zahoran’s mother Varga, 45, pictured with her son, is three years younger than his girlfriend, Deng. Speaking from her home in the town of Mezobereny, Hungary, Varga said she was incredibly proud of her son who had always wanted to be a basketball player but abandoned his dreams of sporting success two years ago in favour of modelling. He now models for Givenchy, Polo and D&G
An item: Deng and Zahoran were seen together at New Year when they were photographed strolling along a beach on the island of St Barts
The couple had spent the New Year together along with her two daughters after Zahoran jetted in from spending Christmas with his family in Hungary.
The romance, which began last May, has been the talk of fashion circles and among the power players in New York where Deng lives in a £36m home she received as part of her 2013 divorce settlement from Murdoch.
Dang and Zahoran, who also lives in New York, are thought to have been introduced by friends and were first pictured at a party thrown by supermodel Naomi Campbell.
They later dressed up as ghouls for a Hallowe’en party with the photo appearing on Zahoran’s Instagram page.
But while Zahoran continues to grace the covers of glossy magazines and on fashion catwalks in his meteoric rise, MailOnline can reveal he only decided to make a career in fashion two years ago after failing to realise his childhood dream of playing basketball in the American NBA league.
In an exclusive interview his mum, Varga – who is three years younger than Chinese born Deng – revealed his dream of emulating his basketball heroes ended when he realised he was not good enough.
‘From an early age Bertold wanted to be a basketball player and compete in the NBA league. His heroes were Michael Jordan and other players,’ Varga told MailOnline from her home in the town of Mezobereny.
Together: Mother of two Deng and model Zahoran, who are believed to have been together since May, went public with their relationship when a photo of them in St Barts was published on his Instagram account – much to the delight of his 24,000 followers
The couple, who are believed to have met at a party thrown by supermodel Naomi Campbell, spent the New Year together, pictured on the balcony during their break, along with her two daughters. Zahoran spent Christmas with his mother and sister, Kitti, in Hungary, before jetting out to the Caribbean to see Deng
Celebrity parties: Since his modelling career took off two years ago when Zahoran’s good looks were first recognised, he moved to New York (pictured at a party above) and has only been back to his hometown twice in the past year. His meteoric rise has seen him front campaigns for Givenchy
Chiselled: Zahorn’s mother Varga told MailOnline: ‘Physically he is good looking, but all mothers would say that about their son. He never thought he would be a model but people when they see him in magazines tell me how handsome he is. I am of course very proud’
She divorced Zahoran’s father when her son was a baby and brought up him and his sister Kitti up on her own.
‘When he was about 17 he said he was not strong enough or tall enough to make it in the league,’ she said. ‘By then modelling opportunities were presenting themselves and he decided to take them.’
Varga said her son was a very good boy: ‘He was always very well behaved and was no trouble. From an early age he kept his body in good shape and enjoyed working out.
He never thought he would be a model but of course people when they see him in magazines tell me how handsome he is. I am of course very proud.
‘Physically he is good looking, but all mothers would say that about their son. I wouldn’t say he was very aware about his looks.
‘He never thought he would be a model but of course people when they see him in magazines tell me how handsome he is. I am of course very proud.’
Zahoran was ‘discovered’ in 2014 when he was featured in a photo-spread for Vogues Hommes magazine posing alongside the Danube in Budapest, Hungary, with other local models.
But Mail Online can reveal he was already a seasoned model having started posing for a local photographer from the age of 15.
Hairdresser Tamas Balogh chose Zahoran as his model for a series of hairdressing competitions in the town of Debrecen where he was attending a sports academy.
‘He was a natural and I chose him because he had the most wonderful hair and also looked good,’ said Balogh.
‘Women loved him, but he was not that interested as he was so focussed on sport.’
Putting aside his dream of playing in the NBA two years ago, Zahoran signed to a New York based modelling agency and his career took off at lightening speed.
He has fronted campaigns for Versace and Ralph Lauren and also opened a Givenchy show.
Ladies in his life: Zahoran is close to his sister Kitti, left and his mother Varga, right, who works as a temp for a transport company in Mezobereny, Hungary, where he grew up. Varga raised Zahoran and his sister on her own after divorcing their father when they were young At the end 2015 Zahoran posted on Instagram that he was ‘with the two most important women in my life’ #mommy #sis #love – eight months before he met Deng
Home: Child basketball star Zahoran was ‘discovered’ in 2014 when he was featured in a photo-spread for Vogues Hommes magazine posing alongside the Danube in Budapest, Hungary, with other local models. Pictured: The home where he grew up
Rising star: By the age of 15 Zahoran was already a natural in front of the camera. In these never before seen photo taken by hairdresser Tamas Balogh, they show off the smouldering good looks that have made him one of the most sought after male models in the world
Proud: Brought up by his single mum Varga, 45, pictured, with his younger sister Kitti, Zahoran only had one dream in childhood and that was to become a professional basketball player
With his chiselled good looks and impressive six-pack abs – which he shows off in countless shirtless photos on his Instagram page – Zahoran was a favourite of Donatella Versace.
Despite meeting 48-year-old Deng in May, their romance was not seemingly confirmed until the Caribbean trip.
The sun kissed beaches of St Barts, where the rich and famous see in New Year are a world away from his early life in a small Hungarian town close to the border with Romania.
Such was Zahoran’s dedication to basketball that he would spend hours in the garden of his family’s modest home in Mezobereny practising shots against a basketball net.
One neighbour said:’ Every evening you would hear the thump of the ball on the ground. It went on and on, but Bertold was such a lovely polite boy.’
His first coach Imre Tanczos recalled how Zahoran was a natural for the sport because of his height. In his early teens he was close to 6ft tall – putting him head and shoulders above other players.
‘There was one game where about four of five players jumped on him to get the ball. Suddenly he emerged out of the pile and strode away. It was like something out of a movie.’
Imre, 40, who now runs a restaurant in the town of Mezebereny, said Zahoran had little time for anything apart from basketball.
‘When we would go to tournaments in Germany or Slovakia he would be the focus of lots of girls,’ he recalled.
‘He was a very good looking boy, but had not real interest in having a girlfriend as he was just interested in sport’
At the age of 14, and with his mother’s support, he left home to move to the town of Debrecen where he attended a sports academy along with 1,000 of the most talented young sports stars in Hungary.
Split: Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng after 14 years of marriage citing irreconcilable differences. Their separation follows reports that he had grown suspicious of his wife’s relationship with former Prime Minister Tony Blair – the godfather of their daughter Grace
New love: Three years after divorcing Deng, Murdoch married actress Jerry Hall in London, pictured
It was while playing for the Debrecen team that he was selected to represent the under 16 National team.
‘People were very proud that someone from the town was representing the country. They would come up to me in the street and congratulate me, said 45-year-old Varga.
‘Bertold is known much more for his basketball than his modelling. They do know he is a model, but not so many people approach me to talk about him.’
What first struck me about him was his piercing blue eyes. He also had a wonderful head of hair that I could work with.
While attending the Debrecen Sport Academy Zahoran came to the attention of hairdresser Balogh.
‘I needed someone to model for me in competitions and Zahoran agreed,’ he said.
‘What first struck me about him was his piercing blue eyes. He also had a wonderful head of hair that I could work with.
‘Other people began to notice him and he was asked to model for other hairdressers.’
‘I remember one time he came to the salon just after a basketball match. He had a big red mark on his face and we had to use a lot of make-up to hide it before the competition.’
Since his modelling career took off Zahoran moved to New York and has only been back to his hometown twice in the past year.
Varga, who works part time for a transportation firm, said her son spent Christmas with her before jetting off to St Barts to meet up with Wendi Deng, her two daughters and model Karlie Kloss.
Asked about her son’s girlfriend being three years older than her, she said:’ That is none of my business. It is his life.’
Glamour: Putting aside his dream of playing in the NBA two years ago Zahoran signed to a New York based modelling agency and his career took off at lightening speed. He has fronted campaigns for Versace and Ralph Lauren and also opened a Givenchy show
With his chiselled good looks and impressive six-pack abs – which he shows off in countless shirtless photos on his Instagramm page – Zahoran was a favourite of Donatella Versace
Celeb circles: Dang and Zahoran, who both live in New York City, are thought to have been introduced by friends and were first pictured at a party thrown by supermodel Naomi Campbell (pictured with Zahoran above)
Varga said she hoped to visit New York to see her son adding: ‘Apart from the Christmas holidays he was only here last January. I would love to see him more, but I know he is very busy.’
Among his biggest fan is Donatella Versace. She is reported to have personally chosen him for one of her campaigns.
Runway shows quickly followed and he is a regular for Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Armani.
Photographer Mark Segal believes he gave Zahoran his big break when he featured him in a photo spread for Vogues Hommes magazine in the summer of 2014.
The photos were published the following year and Segal told the magazine : ‘I was travelling in Prague when my close friend Cliff Fong texted me to join him in Budapest.
‘He mentioned he knew someone starting a modeling agency (WAM models Budapest) there and thought I might want to do some portraits of their guys. I have always been fascinated with Eastern European faces so decided to go and check it out.’
Segal would later shoot Zahoran in the gardens of Millard House in California.
While attending the Debrecen Sport Academy as a full time boarder Zahoran came to the attention of hairdresser Balogh: ‘What first struck me about him was his piercing blue eyes. He also had a wonderful head of hair that I could work with’
Varga said her son was always aware that he was handsome but had never really considered modelling as a career: ‘The opportunities presented themselves and he took them’
Zahoran candidly admits that he cannot believe his good fortune in going from a small town in Hungary to living in New York City.
He said: ‘When I started modeling I dreamed about doing big shows like Givenchy, but I never thought that I would open the show in my first season, or ever. When they confirmed the first look on me I was the happiest guy in the world. Dreams do come true. The show was unbelievable; I think I forgot to breathe when I was on the runway.’
His relationship with Deng – who received a $44m three storey home as part of her 2013 divorce settlement from billionaire Rupert Murdoch – will also open doors to the cream of New York society.
Deng’s romance with the model is her longest lasting relationship since her split with the 85-year-old media mogul.
Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng after 14 years of marriage citing irreconcilable differences.
The split follows reports that he had grown suspicious of his wife’s relationship with former Prime Minister Tony Blair – the godfather of their daughter Grace.
According to Vanity Fair, a besotted Miss Deng invited Mr Blair to spend a weekend at the Murdoch family ranch in Carmel, California in October 2012 – omitting to tell him that her husband would not be there.
Varga, who works part time for a transportation firm, said her son spent Christmas with her and his sister (above) before jetting off to St Barts to meet up with Wendi Deng, her two daughters and model Karlie Kloss
Extraordinary rise: Zahoran, topless on his laptop, candidly admits that he cannot believe his good fortune in going from a small town in Hungary to living in New York City. His first tweet showed an eager fresh faced youngster
Good fortune: Zahoran’s relationship with Deng – who received a $44m three storey home as part of her 2013 divorce settlement from billionaire Rupert Murdoch – will also open doors to the cream of New York society. Picture: The model with friends in Hungary before he was famous
Murdoch was said to have felt he had been ‘betrayed’ by Blair.
The financial arrangements of the split have never been made public but Deng kept the $44m apartment in New York where she lives with daughters Grace, 14 and Chloe, 13.
Since the split she was linked to British classical violinist Charlie Siem in March 2016 at Paris Fashion Week.