Packer v Gyngell: how two friends came to blows
Andrew Hornery explains what happened during Sunday's punch-up between good friends James Packer and David Gyngell. Photos: Brendan Beirne/Sione Chown, Media Mode.PT2M55S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37sc9 620 349 May 5, 2014
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Explosive photographs and video footage of a punch-up between James Packer and David Gyngell are understood to have sold for more than $200,000 - to one of Packer’s best friends.
As the billionaire gaming mogul nursed his wounds - and, potentially, his ego - after the fight with the Nine Entertainment Group boss on Sunday, a media bidding war led to the cost of the explosive photos rising well above initial estimates.
A heavily watermarked photo of the brawl published by News.com.au. The images were taken by Brendan Beirne and Sione Chown, and handled by Media Mode.
Fairfax Media understands News Corp Australia eventually paid the hefty price for the 50-plus images and video footage, which hit the media market on Monday morning. And in an ironic twist, PS can reveal that among the highest bidders for the images was Gyngell's own network, Channel 9.
About 12.45pm, Lachlan Murdoch, a great friend of Packer and Gyngell, and a non-executive co-chairman of News Corp, arrived in a four-wheel-drive and entered through a side entrance.
Murdoch’s arrival at Packer’s Bondi home this afternoon presents News Corp, the Murdoch press, with a challenging political minefield to navigate.
Lachlan Murdoch arrives at the Bondi Beach residence of James Packer on Monday. Photo: James Alcock
A few of the photos have been published on News Corp websites on Monday afternoon with the words "News Corp" heavily watermarked over them.
The photos are set to be splashed over five pages of Tuesday's Sydney Daily Telegraph, Melbourne's Herald Sun and other Australian mastheads, in what will no doubt provide uncomfortably scrutiny for both Gyngell and Packer.
They were taken outside Packer's multimillion-dollar Bondi Beach home on Sunday afternoon and show him and Gyngell throwing and receiving punches, wrestling on the ground and being separated by men believed to be Packer's security staff.
David Gyngell leaves James Packer's Bondi Beach home on Monday morning Photo: INF
The Packer and Murdoch camps have engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship for a considerable period of time, most notably in the Murdoch press’s significant support for Packer's Barangaroo casino development, which was eventually given the go-ahead under former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell.
The images are also likely to have international appeal, given Packer's profile overseas through his casino interests in Asia and via his links to US megastars, including movie star Tom Cruise.
Before Murdoch visited, Packer's trusted lieutenant John Alexander dropped in, not long before Gyngell left the property earlier this morning.
James Packer and his then wife Erica in 2012. Photo: Jesse Marlow
Just a few blocks away, Packer's niece, Francessca, was seen walking with her new boyfriend, footballer Thomas Burgess, although it was not clear if they were intending to visit her wealthy uncle, given the day's controversial circumstances.
Shortly before 4pm, Channel Nine's Today host Karl Stefanovic arrived at Packer's home, remarking to waiting media as he slipped past: "Anything going on in here guys?"
The fight is believed to have been sparked when Packer believed a Channel Nine news truck was parked near his beachside home.
David Gyngell, left, with best mate James Packer in 1999. Photo: Virginia Star
However, Gyngell had assured Packer the truck was parked there by coincidence as one of his news staff members lived close by and was on-call.
Packer has long been wary of media scrutiny and, while the truck’s presence could have been the "trigger point", associates confirmed the fight was really the result of long simmering tension between the men.
Gyngell and Packer later released a joint statement on the fight: "We have been friends for 35 years and still are. In that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further."
A police spokeswoman said no one had come forward to report the matter so it was not the subject of a police investigation.
About 10am today, Gyngell was seen leaving Packer's property, wearing a suit and looking less dishevelled than he did yesterday. His beard was gone, too.
Gyngell was later seen arriving at Channel Nine's offices in Willoughby and was described as "looking quite distressed, he certainly wasn't happy".
Nine chairman David Haslingden said in an email to Fairfax Media today: "David Gyngell has had and continues to have the full support of the board in his role as CEO of Nine Entertainment Company."
At 1pm, Packer received a box of produce from Parisi's Food Hall in Rose Bay containing herbs, blueberries, bacon, caviar and pastrami.
According to alleged witness claims, people were spotted looking for teeth outside Packer's home shortly following the exchange.
While it is unclear which party is missing the teeth, PS has been informed that Packer is today sporting a black eye while Gyngell's face appears to have escaped unscathed.
A woman who lives in an apartment building opposite Packer's home said that, while she did not want to comment on the fight, she did find dentures on the street shortly afterwards.
There is no suggestion the dentures belong to either of the men.
Gyngell's wife, Leila McKinnon, is about to give birth to their second child.
- with Lucy Carroll