There are as many as 50 photos in a set for sale which show billionaire James Packer and his long-time friend and former best man David Gyngell in a fist fight.
Gyngell, head of the Nine Entertainment Group, and gaming mogul Packer clashed outside Packer’s Bondi Beach home yesterday afternoon.
Neither man will give details but issued a joint statement: “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.”
Packer’s home is in a highly visible part of the famous beach strip. Gyngell was reportedly waiting for Packer to arrive back at his house and the fight broke out almost immediately when he showed up.
Amanda Meade at The Guardian Australia has an explanation for why the fight broke out: Apparently, Packer thought there was a Nine satellite truck parked near his house.
That day, a story had been published in the Sunday Telegraph, in which Miranda Kerr said she and Packer were just friends. There was earlier speculation the two had been in a romantic relationship.
There was a truck nearby, but it belonged to a cameraman who had parked it outside his own home between shifts. Packer called Gyngell, who made some inquiries and found out there were no Nine crews lying in wait. The Nine boss went to his friend’s house to tell him in person, and things kicked off from there once Packer pulled up.
One witness, Chris Walker, tweeted about the incident:
Holy crap, big street fight outside my house … Not thugs, James Packer … And some other angry bloke going toe… http://t.co/FK7LwzlbpP
— Chris Walker (@CW_Innerwealth) May 4, 2014
He later elaborated in comments on Facebook that “they all fell on the concrete fence and I think the other guy broke his face … They were looking for teeth after he left.”
He told Business Insider Australia the two were fighting like “dogs”.
“Two grown adults, leaders in our business world fighting like two dogs in the street is a sad reflection,” he said.
The photos, according to one person who has seen them, are extraordinary:
@meadea I've just seen the pix, they are extraordinary. Gyngell bearded and barefoot, Packer black eye, both in head locks on ground.
— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) May 4, 2014
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the images show the two throwing and receiving punches, wrestling to the ground and then being separated by what appeared to be Packer’s bodyguards.
“A media bidding war is breaking out this morning for the rights to publish the images,” the Sydney Morning Herald said.
Gyngell is apparently barefoot and bearded.
The two pulled at each other’s shirts and fell to the ground, where Packer is on top with “Gyngell’s head in a grip”, according to the SMH.
During the fight, men assumed to be Packer’s bodyguards attempt to intervene without success.
Packer is eventually pulled off Gyngell and walks away, before another man – assumed to be a doctor – arrives in a suit carrying a case.
The fist fight is thought to have broken out because Packer wrongly believed a Nine news crew in a live satellite van had waited outside his home, according to sources at Nine.
Packer had reportedly called Nine’s chief executive, angry that there appeared to be a satellite truck outside his home, according to media writer Amanda Meade.
“Gyngell investigated and assured Packer it wasn’t true and that there were no crews on such an assignment,” Meade writes in The Guardian. “Gyngell waited to tell Packer in person but a fight broke out anyway.”
Gyngell is the son of Australian television pioneer Bruce Gyngell who was a close friend of James Packer’s father, Kerry.
Gyngell was Packer’s best man at his wedding to Erica Baxter in 2007 and the men once shared a house. There have been rumblings about the two falling out since Packer divorced Erica last year.
Packer has recently been romantically linked with Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr, who flew back into Sydney on Friday.
Channel Nine publicity issued the following joint statement by DAVID GYNGELL and JAMES PACKER:
“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.”