Police in Australia are investigating a very public fight between one of the country’s richest businessmen and a top television executive in an exclusive Sydney beachside suburb.
News Corp reportedly paid more than 200,000 US dollars (€144,000) for pictures of the brawl between casino mogul James Packer and his long-time friend David Gyngell, chief executive of Nine Entertainment, outside Mr Packer’s luxury apartment at Bondi Beach on Sunday.
The photos of the pair throwing punches and grappling with each other on the ground were published in newspapers across Australia today.
Mr Packer, 46, is chairman of Crown Resorts and has interests in casinos in Australia, Macau and Manila. Forbes lists him as Australia’s third-richest person worth an estimated 6.6 billion US dollars (€4.75bn).
New South Wales state police said today that they are investigating the fracas and appealed for witnesses to come forward, despite no official complaint being made.
The Nine Network broadcast a statement in which it said its 47-year-old boss, Mr Gyngell, accepted the blame for the fight. The two men have been friends since high school and were the best man at each other’s weddings.
“David Gyngell respects the job police do and will co-operate fully with their investigation,” the statement said.
“He also fully accepts that he was the instigator of the incident,” it said. “Clearly, had he not turned up at Packer’s premises in an angry mood, then the confrontation would never have occurred.”
News Corp reported that Mr Packer sent Mr Gyngell an angry text message after seeing a Nine television van parked near his apartment and assumed he was being staked out by a television crew.
Nine employee Nick Tokic later told reporters that he lived near Mr Packer and had brought the van home overnight for an early job on Monday morning.
Mr Packer had just arrived home in Sydney from Jerusalem. Mr Gyngell’s car was blocking the driveway when Mr Packer arrived at his apartment. The pair fought for several minutes while Mr Packer’s driver and security guard attempted to separate them.
Mr Packer and Mr Gyngell released a joint media statement yesterday which they said would be their last word on the fight.
“We have been friends for 35 years and still are,” they said. “In that time, we have had our fair share of ups and downs.”