Gavin de Becker, Jeff Bezos’ longtime security chief, may run his own consulting firm, write books, operate a private luxury terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and develop threat-assessment tools.
But he is really selling only one thing: peace of mind.
For more than four decades, Mr. de Becker, 64, has counseled the United States government, law enforcement departments, thousands of celebrity clients and countless readers on how to ward off threats and stay safe in a scary world.
His most recent case was for Mr. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, who asked him to find out how American Media Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer, had obtained private intimate pictures of Mr. Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
[Mr. Bezos’ claim brought intrigue and politics to The Enquirer’s exposure of his extramarital affair.]
In a blog post on Medium on Thursday, Mr. Bezos said David J. Pecker, the chief executive of A.M.I., was trying to use the photos to blackmail him and deter him — and the news outlet he owns, The Washington Post — from investigating allegations that The Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was politically motivated.
Mr. Bezos said he had asked Mr. de Becker “to proceed with whatever budget he needed.” Those are words that could inspire any employee. But Mr. de Becker has made the security of others his life’s work.
His own childhood was full of the violence and fear that he is now paid to shield others from. Mr. de Becker has written that his mother, a heroin addict, regularly beat him and his sister, and shot his stepfather. She committed suicide when he was 16.
He then moved in with the family of a friend from Beverly Hills High School — Miguel Ferrer, the son of the actor José Ferrer and the singer Rosemary Clooney. Ms. Clooney later gave him a job as her road manager. He went on to work as Elizabeth Taylor’s assistant. (Another close friend was the actress Carrie Fisher; he gave a eulogy at a memorial service in 2017 for Ms. Fisher and her actress mother, Debbie Reynolds, who died a day apart.)
In an interview with The New York Times in 1997, Mr. de Becker said his experience with Ms. Taylor had led him to understand the perils of celebrity and the “marketing of human beings.”
He has been enmeshed ever since. He has investigated stalkers for stars like Olivia Newton-John and Cher. He headed security for public figures visiting President Ronald Reagan and his family at the White House. He worked with the family of Ronald L. Goldman when it sued O. J. Simpson over Mr. Goldman’s 1994 killing at the home of Mr. Simpson’s former wife.
For most people seeking Mr. de Becker’s advice, they can buy peace of mind for a few dollars with a paperback copy of his best seller, “The Gift of Fear.”
For those who can afford it, there is a more hands-on option. As the website for Private Suite, the royal blue refuge Mr. de Becker created for wealthy travelers going through the Los Angeles airport, boasts: “It typically takes 2,200 footsteps from car seat to plane seat. For members of the Private Suite, it’s 70 footsteps. And they are all peaceful footsteps.”