Gavin de Becker

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Gavin de Becker
Born (1954-10-26) October 26, 1954 (age 67)
United States
OccupationSecurity specialist, author
Notable work
The Gift of Fear

Gavin de Becker (born October 26, 1954)[1] is an American author and security specialist, primarily for governments, large corporations, and public figures.[2] He is the chairman of Gavin de Becker and Associates, which he founded in 1978.

Early life[edit]

Gavin de Becker is the son of Hal de Becker (1931–2021), an American dancer and prolific writer about dance.[3]

de Becker claims that his childhood was mired in violence. His parents divorced when he was three. His heroin-addict mother physically abused de Becker and his sister, and once shot his stepfather. She committed suicide when he was sixteen, and de Becker subsequently moved in with a friend from school, Miguel Ferrer, the son of the actors José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney.[4] He lived with the family for two years and would go on to work with Clooney as her road manager. He then worked as Elizabeth Taylor's assistant.[5]


In the 1980s, together with the United States Marshals Service, de Becker co-designed the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems,[6] which is used to screen threats to justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, members of United States Congress, and senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency. Los Angeles County Law enforcement agencies adopted MOSAIC in 1997 to help police manage and reduce spousal abuse cases that might escalate to homicide.[7]

In 1983, he investigated a stalker for Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton, and Cher.[8][9] He also provided his services to celebrities like Richard Burton, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Joan Rivers, Victoria Principal, Tina Turner, and John Travolta.[10]

He was twice appointed to the President's Advisory Board at the United States Department of Justice, in 1982 and 1989,[11][12] and he served two terms on the Governor's Advisory Board at the California Department of Mental Health.[citation needed]

He has also served as an advisor for the anti-bullying resource Bystander Revolution,[13] senior advisor to the Rand Corporation, and senior fellow at UCLA's School of Public Policy.[14]

De Becker has shared his philosophies about prevention of violence in several appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, 20/20, The Jordan Harbinger Show, and Sam Harris's podcast, Waking Up. He has also been profiled in Time and Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and others. De Becker's first book, The Gift of Fear, published in 1997, was a US number 1 bestseller on The New York Times Bestseller List.[citation needed]

Also in 1997, his firm was hired by Bill Cosby to investigate the murder of his son, Ennis, and the threatening letters his family received after the slaying.[15]

In 1999–2000, he assisted the United States Secret Service in the development of its guide for Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment Investigations.[16]

In 2008, Oprah Winfrey dedicated a show to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the publication of The Gift of Fear. In the last year of her show, she dedicated two hour-long shows to de Becker's work in domestic violence.[17]

His 2008 book, Just 2 Seconds, has been described as a guide for protectors of at-risk people and includes five lessons for people charged with protecting others. It also includes summaries of incidents from the last several decades for training and analysis. Co-authors of the book are Tom Taylor and Jeff Marquart.[18]

In March 2019, de Becker, who has worked for Jeff Bezos, accused the Saudi Arabian government of hacking Bezos' phone after the National Enquirer published a story about Bezos's extramarital affair. According to the BBC, de Becker, as Bezos' top security staffer, "linked the hack to The Washington Post's coverage of the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul."[19] The Daily Beast ran an op-ed, in which de Becker explained the matter of the Saudi hack in detail.[20] Journalist Brad Stone explored whether the Saudi hack was linked in any way to a National Enquirer article about Bezos having an affair.[21] United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard conducted an investigation of the Saudi hack. In a public statement, she referred to information that suggested a WhatsApp account belonging to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was used to deploy digital spyware on Bezos' phone, "in an effort to influence, if not silence" The Washington Post's reporting on the kingdom. A United Nations report noted that "the iPhone infiltration occurred from May to June in 2018, when the phones of Jamal Khashoggi's associates, Yahya Assiri and Omar Abdulaziz, were also hacked, allegedly using malware called Pegasus." The UN experts stated: "During the same period, Mr. Bezos was widely targeted in Saudi social media as an alleged adversary of the Kingdom. This was part of a massive, clandestine online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon, apparently targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post."[22][23][24]

Expert witness testimony[edit]

Gavin de Becker has provided expert witness testimony in many cases, including the successful prosecution of Arthur Richard Jackson, the assailant of actress Theresa Saldaña. He later led a national campaign to keep Jackson incarcerated.[25] He also testified in the civil case against the employer of murderer Rodney Garmanian.[26]

De Becker testified in the successful 1994 civil case arising when the tabloid Globe accused an uninvolved man of being the actual assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy (Khawar vs Globe International, Inc). Globe tried to get de Becker's testimony thrown out by a higher court; however, it was ultimately upheld by the California Court of Appeals.[27]

De Becker advised the Los Angeles County District Attorney in the prosecution of Robert Bardo, the murderer of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, and was a consultant on the prosecution of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman,[28][29][30] and the successful civil action against Simpson.[31] His role in the O.J. Simpson cases is described in several books on the case, including those written by Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden, Jeffrey Toobin, and Daniel Petrocelli.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Actor Miguel Ferrer, who played FBI agent Albert Rosenfield in the 1990s television show Twin Peaks, reported that his character was based on Gavin de Becker. Ferrer reportedly knew de Becker since high school.[32]
  • De Becker gave a eulogy at Carrie Fisher's memorial service. Fisher and de Becker reportedly attended high school together and they are described as friends. "The first time I had sex was at Carrie's house," de Becker stated in the eulogy and added, "It wasn't with Carrie, but she arranged it."[33]
  • De Becker gave the eulogy for Garry Shandling; making reference to a long-term feud with studio head Brad Grey, de Becker said, "Over the years, many people asked me, 'Why doesn't Garry have a family?' My answer was, 'Of course he had a family.' He created the Sanders family, which was as much a family as anything, and he had this family [motioning to the crowd]. And even Brad Grey had a role in his family, because every family has an uncle or a cousin who is a sociopath."[34]


  • De Becker founded and personally funds The Naqaqa Giving Foundation, a charitable organization that provides medical, educational, and infrastructure support to remote villages in Fiji.[35]
  • He founded and funded Patient Pets, providing pet therapy for violently inclined patients at Atascadero State Hospital in California.[36][37]
  • De Becker provided the entire funding for the first Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Hotline, and along with Oprah Winfrey, makes MOSAIC domestic violence assessments available to anyone at no charge.[17]


  • de Becker, Gavin (1997). The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-23502-0. OCLC 36143575.
  • —— (1999). Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane). New York, NY: Dial Press. ISBN 978-0-385-33309-2. OCLC 317692059.
  • —— (2002). Fear Less: Real Truth about Risk, Safety, and Security in a Time of Terrorism. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-08596-0. OCLC 48746358.
  • —— (2008). Just 2 Seconds: Using Time and Space to Defeat Assassins. Gavin de Becker Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence. ISBN 978-0-615-21447-4. OCLC 0615214479.


  1. ^ Reagan, Ronald (January 19, 1989). Designation of Gavin de Becker as a Member of the Board of Governors of the United Service Organizations, Incorporated. via Reagan archive
  2. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (July 14, 1997). "His Credo: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.:[Biography]". New York Times. p. 10
  3. ^ "Remembering the life of Hal de Becker Sr. 1931 - 2021".
  4. ^ Cohen, Patricia (February 8, 2019). "Gavin de Becker, Bezos' Security Chief, Is a Guardian to the Stars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  5. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (July 14, 1997). "His Credo: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  6. ^ Forrest, Brett (June 2000). UltraViolencePredictor 1.0. Wired
  7. ^ Tamaki, Julie (February 5, 1997). "Software Aids Battle Against Home Violence". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ "Mass murder suspect arrested for shoplifting". UPI. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  9. ^ "Celebrities want to keep star stalker in custody". UPI. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  10. ^ "CELEBRITY STALKERS: SOMEONE IS WATCHING YOU". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  11. ^ "Appointment of Six Members of the National Institute of Justice Advisory Board". Reagan Library. November 6, 1982. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  12. ^ "Designations and Appointments January 19, 1989". Reagan Library. January 19, 1989. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  13. ^ "Advisors". Bystander Revolution. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  14. ^ Rand Annual Report (2005) [1] - Page 38
  15. ^ Rush, George (June 4, 1997). "Pfeifer and Kelley Say Suit is a 'Minds' Game". New York Daily News.
  16. ^ US Department of Justice (January 2000) [2] - Page vii
  17. ^ a b [3] Gavin de Becker and MOSAIC on Oprah
  18. ^ Kirdahy, Matthew (September 16, 2008) [4]
  19. ^ "Saudi Arabia 'hacked Amazon boss's phone', says investigator". BBC News. March 31, 2019.
  20. ^ "Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data". The Daily Beast. March 31, 2019.
  21. ^ Stone, Brad (May 5, 2021). "The Untold Story of How Jeff Bezos Beat the Tabloids". Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  22. ^ "Independent UN rights experts call for 'immediate investigation' into alleged Bezos phone back by Saudi Aravia". United Nations News. January 22, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "UN experts call for investigation into allegations that Saudi Crown Prince involved in hacking of Jeff Bezos'phone". United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. January 22, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  24. ^ "Analysis of the Evidence of Surveillance of Mr. Bezos' personal phone" (PDF). United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  25. ^ "Saldaña Attacker Ordered to Trial on Letter Threats". Los Angeles Times. June 14, 1990.
  26. ^ Peggy Garrity (August 9, 2016). In the Game: The Highs and Lows of a Trailblazing Trial Lawyer. She Writes Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-63152-106-5. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  27. ^ California Court of Appeals (June 5th, 1996). [5] Khawar v. Globe International Inc.
  28. ^ Clark, Marcia (1998). Without a Doubt. East Rutherford, NJ: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-025977-3.
  29. ^ Darden, Chris (1996). In Contempt. Regan Books. ISBN 978-0-06-039183-6.
  30. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey (1996). The Run of His Life. Random House Books. ISBN 978-0-679-44170-0.
  31. ^ Petrocelli, Daniel (1998). Triumph of Justice. Crown. ISBN 978-0-609-60170-9.
  32. ^ Buck, Jerry (November 24, 1990). "Ferrer Not Your Average Cop in 'Broken Badges'". Chicago Tribune.
  33. ^ Pressberg, Matt (March 25, 2017). "Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds Funeral Features Dancing, Droids and a Standing Ovation". The Wrap.
  34. ^ Wallace, Amy (April 25, 2016). "Garry Shandling's Memorial Service Was a Funny, Sad, Perfect Tribute to a Beloved Comedy Mentor". GQ Magazine.
  35. ^ Naqaqa Giving Foundation
  36. ^ Anne Davis, Carol (November 15, 2011). "Children Who Kill: Profiles of Pre-Teen and Teenage Killers". ISBN 9780749016234.
  37. ^ Clark, Joe (November 11, 2015). "My Values Are All I Have". He Doesn't Know How Much I Love Him.

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