With his dyed Mohawk hairstyle and cosmetically-crafted abdominal six pack, things are rarely as they seem with Darryn Lyons, the brash Australian who has dubbed himself “The King of the Paparazzi”.
But the founder of the infamous Big Pictures agency, which went into administration this month with a string of debts, leaving 21 of his London-based staff without jobs, has surpassed himself with his latest piece of outrageous chutzpah.
Having fled back to Australia and set up a new company called Mr Paparazzi Celebrity Deals, he has established himself as a shareholder of another firm called BPGG Limited – which has promptly bought up the assets of Big Pictures from the administrators for £164,000.
While he returns to business, British-based photographers have been left with thousands of pounds of unpaid invoices and have lost access to the negatives of their work.
Ironically, Lyons has appeared on a series of television shows – including the Australian version of Dragons’ Den and an ITV reality series about the magazine business called Deadline – where he has boasted of his media expertise and entrepreneurial skill.
But the collapse of Big Pictures does not appear to have been a chastening experience for Lyons, a former Celebrity Big Brother contestant with a garish dress sense that makes the flamboyant late pianist Liberace look under-stated.
“It is understood that the purchaser is an associated company as the director of the company, Darryn Lyons, is a shareholder of the purchaser,” stunned creditors have been informed in a letter from RSM Tenon, the administrators of Big Pictures.
BPGG outbid another 15 companies that entered discussions into buying the assets of the agency, which closed on its 20th anniversary leaving staff unpaid for their final month of work.
Big Pictures – “The World’s Biggest and Best Celebrity Picture Agency” - had a library of 5m images. Photographers who did not sign a copyright waiver are seeking the return of their images from the agency. But the administrator, which included the library in the sale to BPGG, said in its letter to creditors that it was “inherently difficult to place an accurate value” on the library.
The agency is best known for its pictures of David Beckham at the time of his affair with Rebecca Loos. The Big Pictures website links to Lyons’s “Mr Paparazzi” blog, which encourages the public to “make a fortune” by sending in pictures of celebrities “snogging/shopping/clubbing”.
Lyons, who once described his bizarrely sculpted and protruding belly with the words “basically, it’s the male version of a boob job”, is unlikely to be lying awake at night with worry over the fate of Big Pictures and the money it owes.
Back on Australia’s Surf Coast he has been enjoying games of cricket, walks on the beach and satisfying feeds at his seaside restaurant Growlers. In his most recent contribution to his Twitter account, he told his followers of a charity golf event in which he would be “raising money for people with less than us all”. Big Picture’s creditors may not be too reassured by that.