year in review

The Most Read Vanity Fair Stories of 2023

Real Housewives and Lost, the Murdochs, Brad and Angelina, Gisele, a grifting rabbi, and more of the stories that most captivated readers this year. 
The Most Read Vanity Fair Stories of 2023
From left, Illustration by Nicole Rifkin; Photograph by Gillian Laub; MARCO GROB / TRUNK ARCHIVE.

Each year at about this time, there’s a good bit of cultural excavation to be had in the Vanity Fair newsroom. What could our readers not get enough of this year? And what might those stories say about our times? 

There was a lot to parse in our 10 most read articles of the year ending December 31, 2023. There were examinations of the behind-the-scenes conditions at two long-running television institutions; an aging billionaire whose succession battle could have been its own prestige-TV series; a reexamination of a long-simmering A-list divorce; a world-conquering fashion model opening up about her own recently ended marriage; the shocking origins of downtown Manhattan’s playboy of the moment; and much more.

It’s a varied list to be sure. But spend some time with the tens of thousands of words in the stories below, and one commonality quickly emerges. They are frequently comprised of up-close reporting on the human dramas on which big cultural narratives turn. In our experience that’s a rather timeless element of a must read story. By all means click around below and judge for yourself. We’ll be back in 2024 with so much more. 

OceanGate’s Titan submersible prior to its final dive on a mission to see the Titanic wreckage.OceanGate Expeditions/Handout via Xinhua News Agency.

10.  The Titan Submersible Disaster Was Years in the Making, New Details Reveal

To many in the tight-knit deep-sea exploration community, OceanGate’s submersible dives were reckless and often dangerous, writes best-selling author Susan Casey.

“It actually tells you what’s wrong and how to fix it,” Stephanie Tisone (right) would tell a friend of Anthony William’s work.Leon Bennett/Getty Images. Courtesy Tony Tisone.

9. The Medical Medium and the True Believer

When Stephanie Tisone met Anthony William, a cult-famous, self-billed clairvoyant, she felt an instant connection. Her belief in his abilities was unwavering. Her life would never be the same.

A centuries-old winemaking haven set in its own valley, Miraval became the Jolie-Pitt family’s escape from the glare of global fame. Then, when the couple split, it became the subject of a brutal legal tug-of-war.Brad & Angelina: Anthony Harvey. Chateau: Michel Gangne/AFP. Both via Getty Images.

8. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s War of the Rosé

Miraval was more than just their family home. It was their family business: a hugely profitable wine label on an enchanting estate in the South of France. When they split following a harrowing flight, an epic battle ensued.

7. True Crime, True Faith: The Serial Killer and the Texas Mom Who Stopped Him

In 1981, Margy Palm was abducted by Stephen Morin outside a Kmart. She’s never told the whole shocking story—until now.


6. “It’s Not So Black and White”: Gisele Bündchen, Self-Professed “Witch of Love,” Talks About It All

The supermodel is super ready for her next act, as she enjoys the pura vida in Costa Rica. (Heads up, casting directors—she has superhero ambitions!)

Paul Landis leads President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy through a crowd of supporters at the Dallas airport; November 22, 1963Bettmann/Getty Images.

5. A New JFK Assassination Revelation Could Upend the Long-Held “Lone Gunman” Theory

In a new book, former Secret Service agent Paul Landis, largely silent for 60 years, says he found a bullet in Kennedy’s limo. A sometime presidential historian explains why that’s so significant, if true.

Illustration by Nicole Rifkin

4. Kyle Deschanel, the Rothschild Who Wasn’t

When Kyle de Rothschild Deschanel arrived in New York nightlife and venture fundraising circles a few years ago, he was an instant hit. Equal parts charm, enterprise, and fabulous family wealth, he seemed to live on a 24/7 carousel of mega-dollar deals and raucous parties. It was almost as if he had conjured his entire existence out of thin air. What if he had?

Art Streiber/AUGUST.

3. Lost Illusions: The Untold Story of the Hit Show’s Poisonous Culture

The show was a groundbreaking smash, but behind the scenes it devolved into such toxicity that even co-showrunner Damon Lindelof now says of his leadership: “I failed.” A powerful excerpt from the new book Burn It Down.

Tara Rice

2. Inside Rupert Murdoch’s Succession Drama

With the $1.6 billion Dominion lawsuit threatening to hobble Fox News, the ink on his divorce to Jerry Hall still wet, and his broken engagement to Ann Lesley Smith even fresher, it’s been a chaotic 12 months for the 92-year-old conservative media baron. As Fox and family insiders tell it, this could just be the beginning.

Bethenny Frankel, who appeared on eight seasons of The Real Housewives of New York City, at her Hamptons home.Photograph by Gillian Laub.

1. Inside the Real Housewives Reckoning That’s Rocking Bravo

Amid disturbing allegations, Bethenny Frankel’s calls for a union, and a whole lot of drinking, reality TV’s most popular stars are facing their demons.