SA woman’ ‘love at first sight’ marriage to Biden’s son

  • MelissaCohen3
When South African-born Melissa Cohen met Hunter Biden – the son of Joe Biden, former United States vice president and 2020 Democrat front runner – she told her family it was “love at first sight”.
by NICOLA MILTZ | Jun 20, 2019

The couple married in haste – and by all accounts in secret – on 16 May. The ceremony was held only a few days after they were introduced and, according to the American tabloids, they already sported matching tattoos.

According to Cohen’s brother, Garyn, a podiatrist in Sandton, the couple were wed by a marriage officer in a simple ceremony in her Los Angeles apartment. It took place, he said, 10 days after they were introduced by mutual friends.

Garyn told the SA Jewish Report that his family was still reeling from the news, and knew very little. He said his younger sister seemed blissfully happy, and the couple had wasted no time in tying the knot because they “knew they were right for each other”.

“It’s not difficult to fall in love with my sister – she is gorgeous inside and out,” Garyn said.

“Melissa said that she believes in love at first sight, and after spending a weekend together, they decided there was no point in delaying the inevitable and made their relationship official. It’s like a fairytale.”

Speaking from Los Angeles this week, the ethereal bride, 32, who has been married previously, told the SA Jewish Report that she knew Biden was the man for her.

“The moment I met Hunter, I knew he was the person I wanted to share the rest of my life with. We have so much in common. We are so happy together. I look forward to seeing my family in South Africa soon, and to introduce Hunter to my beautiful family, magnificent country, and congregation.”

Garyn said that his sister was always destined for great things. “When she left South Africa at 21, I said to her, ‘I know one day you are going to be famous.’.

He said his sister, the only girl in the family with three older brothers, was “a really good person who loves helping people”.

Seventeen years her senior, Biden, 49, is no stranger to controversy. Joe Biden may be the famous one in the family, but his son, Hunter, has made many headlines of his own. According to numerous newspaper reports, after separating from his ex-wife, Kathleen, in 2015, Hunter struck up a romantic relationship with Hallie Biden, his former sister-in-law. She was the widow of his late brother, Beau Biden, the former Delaware attorney general, who died tragically of brain cancer in 2015.

It is understood that even amid Kathleen and Hunter’s acrimonious divorce proceedings, Joe Biden and his wife Jill supported Hunter and Hallie’s dating.

Kathleen filed for divorce in 2015 citing irreconcilable differences. The couple have three children together.

Hunter was discharged from the US Navy Reserve in 2014 after allegedly testing positive for cocaine.

He is an accomplished lawyer. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, and then went on to attend Yale Law School. Hollywood Life, an American entertainment website, reports that he is a partner at Rosemont Seneca Partners, and works at a New York-based law firm.

The Biden family has been struck with numerous tragedies over the years. Apart from losing his brother, Hunter lost his mother and sister when he was very young.

Neila Biden, the former vice-president’s first wife and Hunter’s mother, was involved in a car crash in 1972 which killed her and their daughter, Naomi. Hunter and Beau were also in the car, but they survived their injuries. Joe later married Jill.

The New York Post’s celebrity news site, Page Six, reported that Hunter split from Hallie in April, suggesting that he had only a week of singledom before meeting Cohen.

Cohen herself recently split from her long-time boyfriend, Malibu real estate developer and father of three, Rob Mendez. They were also apparently together until April this year.

Describing her as adventurous, arty, and free spirited, Garyn said that his sister had always been a “champion for nature conservation and the environment, as well as the underprivileged and people from all walks of life. She is truly remarkable, intelligent, and has a special neshoma [soul].”

She is interested in indigenous conservation, and spent time with the Himba tribe in Namibia in 2015. She also worked in India looking after children for a while.

When Cohen was in Grade 11 at King David High School Victory Park (KDVP), she was selected as an exchange student as part of the American Field Service scholarship programme, and spent three months in Italy, where she picked up the language and developed a love and talent for art, said Garyn.

Hanna Ben Moshe, a long-standing Hebrew teacher at the school, told the SA Jewish Report she remembers Cohen well.

“She was a sweet, lovely girl, with blue eyes, blond hair, and an angel face. She was charming. Her family has a long history at the school, Melissa being the youngest of four siblings to come here.”

Ben Moshe said Cohen was enriched by her experience in Italy. “When Melissa came back from Italy in 2003, she wrote an article saying that she had learnt a lot about respect and tolerance for all people, colours, creeds, and kinds.”

Ben Moshe said Cohen was a “creative and talented art student, who produced beautiful pieces”.

After matriculating from KDVP, Cohen started her degree at the University of Johannesburg, before moving over to the Greenside Design Center College of Design. There, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in interior design in 2007. She developed a passion for interior architecture.

But her main passions, according to her family, are nature conservation, indigenous conservation, animal, and women’s rights, with photographs and posts on her Facebook clearly demonstrating this.

Melissa’s parents, Zoe and Lee Cohen, have declined to comment. According to Garyn, they are still coming to terms with the news. “It’s very much a fairytale, all they want is for Melissa to be happy, and for there to be a happy ending.”

Her new father-in-law is planning to run for president of the United States in 2020.


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