Who Is Hunter Biden's Wife, Melissa Cohen?

Ever since Joe Biden became president of the United States, there's been a lot of interest in his family. From his wife Jill to his son and daughter, Hunter and Ashley, to his granddaughters, Biden certainly has a large and interesting family. In 2019, the president gained a new family member when his son Hunter married the South African filmmaker and activist Melissa Cohen. 

According to reports, Cohen is a free-spirited woman who is passionate about numerous causes, such as animal rights and conservationism. When she met Biden, both were freshly out of long-term relationships, but they instantly clicked. Cohen's name quickly appeared in the headlines, largely thanks to the very quick nature of her courtship with Hunter — the pair only dated for a few days before tying the knot. The pair had their first child together in 2020. Since then, Cohen has been living with her husband in Malibu and supporting him throughout the federal investigation into his business dealings. Cohen is his second wife, as he was previously married to Kathleen Buhle, with whom he has three children.

Even though Cohen has been part of the president's immediate family for several years and is the mother of one of his grandchildren, there's still a lot we don't know about Hunter's second wife. So, without further ado, here are a few little-known details about Melissa Cohen that all fans of the Biden family need to know.

Melissa Cohen was raised by a Jewish family in South Africa

So, how did Melissa Cohen get her start in life? She was actually born and raised on the other side of the world, in South Africa. According to the Daily Mail, she was first raised by a tribeswoman in Transkei and her first language was Xhosa, a tribal dialect. She allegedly then learned English at 6 years old.

In his memoir "Beautiful Things," Hunter Biden revealed a few details about his wife's upbringing (via Forward). Apparently, after living with the tribeswoman, Cohen spent a year in a "children's home" until she was adopted by a Jewish South African family (Lee and Zoe Cohen) who had three of their own sons. Apparently, as a child, she became fluent in five languages, including Italian, Hebrew and, of course, English. Growing up, she was called "Missy," "Mel," or "jungle girl," because of her love of nature and animals.

She is a filmmaker who is passionate about wildlife, preservation, and her heritage

In his memoir "Beautiful Things," Hunter Biden described his wife Melissa Cohen as an "activist" and "aspiring documentary filmmaker" (via Forward). In terms of her activism, friends have said that she's passionate about animal rights and antisemitism. "She loves animals and the wild and is fervently anti-poaching, and lately she has become very vocal about antisemitism," one friend told the Daily Mail. She is reportedly a member of both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. "Mel has never been conventional, and if there is something anti out there, then she will sign up and nail her colors to the mast," a friend said.

So, what exactly is Cohen's focus as a filmmaker? According to an old crowdfunding page, she had planned to make a film about where she was raised called "Tribal Lands." In a trailer, she said, "I am Melissa and I'm going to take you back to the continent where I was born." A statement about the film read, "As an African-born western woman raised by its native people, Melissa can confidently provide viewers with a unique narrative of adventure and discovery while representing another ethnic and gender demographic." The film's crowdfunding campaign was reportedly canceled in 2016 after failing to raise any money.

Melissa Cohen is reportedly a hippie at heart

By the sounds of things, Melissa Cohen is much more free-spirited than her in-laws. As several friends explained to the Daily Mail, she's always been unpredictable and unconventional. One friend even said that she is a "hippie chick" at heart. "Mel is very spiritual and into karma and believes in mystic energies, and is a very 'love, light, and peace' person," her friend said. "She is probably the free-est spirit that I know and is deeply loved by all."

However, another friend said that Cohen's love of living spontaneously could sometimes alienate people. "She's like a butterfly floating through life, totally irresponsible, you can't depend on her," this friend commented to the outlet. "Melissa was very promiscuous and pushed the boundaries a lot more than other people. She loves to party always, anytime, anywhere, and she's great company; she's a very spontaneous, impulsive person."

She went to school in Italy before studying architecture and design in South Africa

According to the Daily Mail, Melissa Cohen has had a pretty unusual education. She reportedly spent some time at a school in Mantua, Italy. However, according to Business Insider South Africa, she actually graduated from King David High School Victory Park in South Africa. She then enrolled at the University of Johannesburg and majored in architecture. She then went on to study interior design at the Greenside Design Center College of Design, also in South Africa.

After getting her design degree, Cohen appeared to switch her focus, enrolling in a horticulture course in Los Angeles at the age of 21. It was there that she met American businessman Jason Landver, her first husband. Cohen also has reportedly done quite a bit of international traveling to locales like Europe, Africa, and Bali, per Business Insider South Africa.

Melissa was first married to a wealthy businessman

Hunter Biden wasn't Melissa Cohen's first whirlwind romance. When she first came to America, she reportedly had another fast courtship with Jason Landver. As a friend told the Daily Mail, "She was here traveling and she met Jason and they had a whirlwind romance." When her American visa was about to run out, Cohen allegedly gave Landver an ultimatum. "Jason was besotted, so he obliged," Cohen's acquaintance said. "She has this way about her that makes guys lose their mind. She has this alluring magnetism, an ethereal beauty that sucks guys in." The pair got married in 2011 in South Africa at a vineyard.

Apparently, Cohen was soon living a glamorous life thanks to her wealthy husband. "'She drove around in an AMG Mercedes he paid for, wore Chanel and Gucci handbags, and he bought her this huge antique diamond ring when they got engaged," a friend said. "They loved to travel together and spent around a year living in Hong Kong."

The pair eventually split in 2014, reportedly because Landver claimed he couldn't envision himself starting a family with her, per the Daily Mail.

She was in a serious relationship shortly before meeting Hunter Biden

According to Page Six, Melissa Cohen had another serious relationship before meeting Hunter Biden. The publication reported that Cohen was actually in a long-term relationship with Rob Mendez, a real estate developer from Malibu, just a few weeks before she and Biden crossed paths. The pair allegedly dated for two years, and Cohen even lived with Mendez and his three children. Apparently, friends of the couple were shocked when Cohen married Biden only a few weeks after her relationship with Mendez ended. "Wow, she just broke up with Rob! So I'm quite shocked by this being so sudden after their breakup," a friend reportedly wrote.

Mendez told Page Six that he and Cohen had "a very, very good relationship. The best I've ever had." In fact, she allegedly helped him and his children develop healthier habits. As he put it, "She actually turned our house around." According to Mendez, he and Cohen broke up because she was ready to have children, while he was not.

Melissa Cohen ghosted Hunter Biden on their first date

After breaking up with her partner Rob Mendez, Melissa Cohen met Hunter Biden. According to Biden's memoir, the meeting happened by chance after he crossed paths with some of her friends. He explained that he was drunk and high and had just been kicked out of his hotel when he started chatting with some "hipsters." They gave him their friend's number and he texted her that evening. She reportedly told him to get in touch with her the next day as she was going to sleep (via Jimmy Kimmel Live).

Their first date didn't exactly go to plan. Biden recalled how he had invited Cohen for a morning coffee, but she didn't appear until dinnertime. Apparently, though, when he saw her wearing "oversized sunglasses pushed atop her honey-blond hair," it was practically love at first sight. Within an hour, he had confessed his drug addiction problem and told her he loved her (via Forward).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Hunter Biden's wife helped him get over his addiction

As soon as Hunter Biden told Melissa Cohen about his drug addiction, she said simply, "Not anymore. You're finished with that." As Biden went on to explain in his memoir "Beautiful Things," she then helped him get over his addiction for good. First, she threw away all of his drugs, then she took his car keys, wallet, computer, and phone to make sure he couldn't get any more. She even deleted everyone except for his family members from his phone. Biden recalled how she "turned to steel" if she answered the door to drug dealers (via Forward).

Biden went through a withdrawal period, during which Cohen allegedly dealt with "my whining and crying and scheming," as he put it. As for Cohen, going through this period helped her to realize just how powerful her feelings for Biden really were. "Things have not been easy externally, but internally, things have been amazing, and it's only tested our bond," she told ABC News.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Melissa Cohen married Hunter Biden days after they first met

As Hunter Biden revealed in his memoir "Beautiful Things," he asked Melissa Cohen to be his wife just four days after their first date. The question, he said, was "like a trial balloon, light and breezy: 'We should get married!'" The couple then visited the Shamrock Social Club, a tattoo parlor, where Biden got the word "Shalom" tattooed on his bicep to match one of Cohen's tattoos. 

The next day, May 15, Cohen accepted Biden's marriage proposal. The two then quickly planned their wedding with the help of a "marriage shop," which sent an officiant to where they were staying. As Biden told The New Yorker, he also bought Cohen a simple gold wedding band. One day later, they were married.

"The decision never felt rash or harebrained or reckless," wrote Biden. "It felt urgent. I felt like I'd been given a reprieve" (via Forward).

Hunter's father Joe welcomed Melissa into the family

Because Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen married so quickly after their first meeting, no one in Biden's family even knew about her. Shortly after the wedding, Hunter called his father, Joe Biden, to tell him the news. "I called my dad and said that we just got married," Biden told The New Yorker. "He was on speaker, and he said to her, 'Thank you for giving my son the courage to love again.'" (Apparently, these were the same words that Joe's mother had told his second wife, Jill). 

His father also told Hunter, "Honey, I knew that when you found love again that I'd get you back." According to Hunter, "... And my reply was, I said, 'Dad, I always had love. And the only thing that allowed me to see it was the fact that you never gave up on me, you always believed in me.'"

She couldn't have been happier with Hunter

After their whirlwind romance and hasty wedding, Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen settled down into life as a married couple. By all accounts, Cohen couldn't have been happier in the early months of her marriage. 

"They are very happy," her mother, Zoe, told The Washington Post, adding, "She's a very special girl." Her father also made a statement to Page Six, saying, "She seems very happy. I've only spoken to Hunter briefly. She's a very special girl. She has lots of poise and she's very present" (via the Evening Standard). Cohen herself spoke to ABC News a few months after her wedding and said, "I would call it the honeymoon phase, defnitely." She added, "Although, I have an inclination that I'm gonna be in the honeymoon phase for a very long time." Biden also told ABC, "I'm actually having an incredible extended honeymoon with my beautiful bride."

Melissa Cohen has deleted her social media accounts

Melissa Cohen has deleted her public social media accounts since marrying Hunter Biden, but according to Heavy, she was once a pretty active political voice on platforms like Facebook. In 2018, for instance, she allegedly criticized Donald Trump's immigration policy, stating that Elon Musk wouldn't have been allowed to move to the U.S. if the policy had been in place at the time.

In a 2017 post, Cohen reportedly called Trump an "evil orange goon" who was "doing his absolute best to destroy everything pure, right, and natural" after he lifted a ban on importing elephants that had been killed by trophy hunters. She added, "We will resist you."

Cohen has also voiced her support for the Democrats. In one post about Barack and Michelle Obama's portrait unveiling, she wrote, "The grace and class of these two is simply #goals on every single level #americanroyals."

She had her first child in 2020

On March 28, 2020, Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen had their first child, a son named Beau who was named after Biden's brother, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Cohen's brother, Garyn, told The Post that Beau was a "beautiful and healthy baby boy" (via Page Six). "We are ecstatic about the baby," Garyn also said. "We actually feel that [at] a time like this, with the whole world in crisis, bringing a beautiful baby into the world is an opportunity to focus on the good, instead of this virus that is ravaging the world and causing a pandemic."

Cohen has since been spotted with her son and her husband. In 2021, they were seen eating at a Greek restaurant in Malibu. As the Daily Mail noted, Beau was dressed in a replica of the South African national rugby team's green and gold kit. It seems that Cohen is eager to pass on some of her South African cultural heritage to her son.

Reports spread that Melissa Cohen wasn't happy with Hunter during the investigation into his finances

Since their marriage, Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen haven't exactly had an easy ride. When a federal investigation was launched against Biden, this put a strain on things for the couple. As one source told Page Six, the pair was forced to live in "lockdown" in a rented house in Malibu. 

According to her friends, life with Biden became "hard" for Cohen. "They never go anywhere because they've been instructed to stay out of sight and away from the cameras while the investigation into Hunter continues," one source said. "Added to the pressure, the Secret Service lives in a much larger mansion next door to them and they watch over Hunter like hawks. It is extremely frustrating for both of them." When Cohen did leave the house, she was forced to travel with a team of Secret Service agents — even on shopping trips and lunches with friends (via the New York Post).

Another source told the New York Post that the pressure was becoming hard for Cohen to deal with. "The reality is he's a train wreck and life with him is very hard behind closed doors. She had no idea what she was getting into," the source said. "But there is still love there, and she loves her son. She is focusing on him — for now, that's all she can do."