Australia: Casino Tsar in Bondi Beach Boardwalk Brawl

Casino tsar James Packer has caused a media frenzy following a fistfight with old friend Nine Network chief executive David Gyngell. The clash of the titans erupted on Sunday 4 May 2014 near Packer’s Bondi Beach residence.

‘Amateur’ photos of the brawl apparently went to the highest bidder, namely Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, for a rumoured $A 200,000 [$US 185,000]. They branded them for pre-release before print publication. It has also been claimed that Gygell’s media company was a bidder. Coincidentally, another old friend of Packer, Lachlan Murdoch, visited James after the incident, perhaps as a go-between.

The Oz blogosphere pounced on this one. Nic Atkinson, aka thatdigitalcopywriter was quick out of his corner at Marketing Magazine:

Breaking: We interrupt your regular programming to bring you a non-Monday cartoon, because reports are flooding in that wealthy, grown men used to getting their own way behave like children sometimes. Who knew?

Packer-Gyngell Star Wars

Packer-Gyngell Star Wars cartoon

Following newspaper publication, media and marketing website, Mumbrella, had a roundup of frontpages:

Sydney Daily Telegraph kicks off with the headline “Packer Wacker” and dedicates no less than the first nine pages to the story of two 40+ years old CEOs in a street brawl.

…Dr Mumbo’s favourite article is this review of the boxing styles of both men which includes the immortal line: “Wrestling and snorting, the smart money was on a Cranbrook boy — the first time in recorded history that sentence has ever been written.”

Meanwhile in the other states:
The Herald Sun went with the headline: “Billionaire dollar biffo”
Billion Dollar Biffo

There is also video with the News Corp brand to protect their copyright.

Police are believed to be investigating. Both men have a stake in being perceived as fit and proper people, especially Packer who is currently pursuing a casino licence in Japan. He also has financial interests in Australian media companies and a film company.

The Sydney Social Shuffle suggested:

Lost in the media's salivating over the street punch up between friends James Packer and his former Nine Network pal David Gyngell is the fact that both could be charged under NSW's heavy new “one punch” legislation introduced by the recently retired NSW premier Barry O'Farrell who was also instrumental in paving the way for Packer to build a multi-million dollar hotel and casino complex at Barangaroo.

This bizarre story would not be complete without a celebrity sideshow. In this case it’s supermodel Miranda Kerr whose friendship with Packer may have sparked the stoush between old mates. Apparently James incorrectly believed that a Nine news truck was spying on his home. As reported in Nine’s own CelebrityFix blog recently:

Mates before dates! Newly single Shane Warne has revealed that he could never date Miranda Kerr… because of her alleged romance with his pal James Packer! Talk about a strict bro code…

Gyngell was Packer's best man at his last wedding. Perhaps David should read his own media a bit more often.

Of course this media versus media melodrama has been a twitter feast as well.

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