Did James Packer and David Gyngell, heavyweight Australian businessmen, square up over Miranda Kerr?

Casino mogul and TV executive brawl outside £11m apartment

Sydney

They look for all the world like two drunken louts brawling in the gutter after being ejected from a seedy pub.

But the fight – captured in photographs which are set to go viral – took place between two of Australia’s leading businessmen, the billionaire James Packer and the TV executive David Gyngell, two men who were once the closest of friends.

The fight – described by one witness as being “like two mad dogs going at each other’s throats” with at least one combatant losing a tooth – erupted on Sunday afternoon outside Mr Packer’s A$20m (£11m) apartment overlooking Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

Yesterday the photos hit the market, where they were snapped up by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp papers for a reported A$200,000.

Mr Murdoch’s tabloids were set to publish them on their websites at 9pm yesterday, along with video footage of the brawl. Ironically, Mr Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, who was recently appointed non-executive co-chairman of News Corp and is a friend of Mr Packer’s, visited the businessman’s flat yesterday.

James Packer, left, was ‘scarlet with rage, his neck veins bulging. It took three men to pull him off’ James Packer, left, was ‘scarlet with rage, his neck veins bulging. It took three men to pull him off’ News of the fight – during which punches were traded and the heavily built Mr Packer, 46, grabbed Mr Gygnell, 47, in a headlock – sparked feverish interest, with various theories emerging for the bad blood between the life-long friends.

The pair’s relationship apparently soured last year after Mr Gyngell – whose father, Bruce, created the “sofa format” of breakfast TV in the UK – castigated Mr Packer, son of the late media mogul Kerry Packer, for walking out on his wife, Erica, and three children.

The spark, though, may have been Mr Packer spotting a Nine Network satellite TV news van parked outside his flat; he believed it was trying to catch him with the Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr. According to the gossip columnists, he is dating Ms Kerr, who split up with her actor husband Orlando Bloom last year. The van apparently belonged to a Nine employee who happened to live in the same street.

The fireworks began when Mr Gyngell – chief executive of Nine Entertainment, which owns the Nine Network – drew up in Mr Packer’s driveway in a white Audi SUV. Barefoot and unshaven, he had just been surfing at Bondi.

According to neighbours, he conducted a heated, expletive-laden phone conversation during which he threatened to punch his interlocutor – presumably Mr Packer, an international casino mogul. Moments later, Mr Packer arrived in a black chauffeured sedan.

“Within seconds it just exploded,” said the photographer Brendan Beirne, who had been staking out the flat. “They were beating the hell out of each other.” Some of the photos already circulating show Mr Packer scarlet with rage, his neck veins bulging. It took three men – including Mr Packer’s driver and security guard – to pull him off.

By another irony, among the media organisations which News Corp outbid for the photos, was the Nine Network.

The two men issued a joint statement yesterday saying that they had been friends for 35 years “and still are”, adding that “in that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory