Billionaire brawler in Bondi bust up

James Packer (TV3)
David Gyngell

Australian casino billionaire James Packer and media businessman David Gyngell say they are still life-long friends after a punchup at Bondi Beach.

The pair issued a joint statement from their respective companies, Crown Resorts and Nine Entertainment (of which Mr Gyngell is chief executive) saying: "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."

But social media had lots to say after a witness saw them viciously fighting outside Mr Packer's home on Sunday afternoon.

"Holy crap, big street fight outside my house ... Not thugs, James Packer ... And some other angry bloke going toe to toe - total brawl .. Wow," he wrote on Facebook.

"Packer packed a punch but copped a couple of hits straight to the jaw... Then they all fell on the concrete fence and I think the other guy broke his face ... They were looking for teeth after he left."

Messrs Packer, who is worth more than $A6 billion, and Gyngell have known each other since schooldays and are sons of two media moguls, Kerry Packer and Bruce Gyngell.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports 50 photos exist showing the two men squaring off, pulling at each other's shirts and grappling before falling and wrestling on the ground before other men, possibly Mr Packer's bodyguards, intervened.

The paper says the pair's long-term friendship has soured after Mr Gyngell tried to intervene on behalf of Packer's second wife, Erica Baxter, from whom he announced his separation around six months ago. Mr Gyngell was best man at the wedding.

One version says the incident was triggered by a Nine Network van parked outside Mr Packer's Bondi compound and presumably waiting to capture Mr Packer and his new girlfriend, model Miranda Kerr, who has separated from her Hobbit star husband Orlando Bloom.

Mr Packer then called Mr Gyngell, who came to placate Mr Packer only to get into the highly physical argument. The van was innocent, as it apparently belonged to a Nine employee who lived nearby.

The story is a media sensation in Australia with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation paying a six-figure sum for a video of the fracas. The images show Mr Gyngell gained a scuffed forehead and Mr Packer a back eye.

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