Longtime friends, casino billionaire James Packer and Nine CEO David Gyngell, were photographed engaging in a public fist fight in Bondi yesterday afternoon, with reports the pictures have been sold to NewsLimited for $200,000.
Onlookers said Gyngell was waiting for 20 minutes for Packer to return home, where the two men exchanged profanities before the altercation became physical.
What prompted the fight remains unknown, however Fairfax Media reported the pair’s relationship became strained after Packer split from former wife Erica Baxter.
The Australian Financial Review said the photos had been sold to News Corporation for $200,000 after media outlets were approached to bid for the rights to the pictures.
A twitter parody account has already appeared online after heavily watermarked versions of the pictures were published on News.com.au.
Love a blue.
— NewsCorpWatermark (@NewsWatermark) May 5, 2014
As news broke on Monday morning the pair issued a joint statement regarding the incident.
“We have been friends for 35 years and still are,” the statement says.
“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.”
According to reports, the fight took place on Sunday afternoon outside Packer’s Bondi Beach home and the pair were photographed punching and wrestling each other before being separated by Packer’s security.
Both men returned to their homes and Packer was reportedly later visited by someone believed to be a medical professional.
Media outlets are currently engaged in a bidding war for photos. Although yet to be released, those who have seen the images have commented on their content.
“I’ve just seen the pix, they are extraordinary,” tweet Channel Seven presenter Chris Reason. “Gyngell bearded and barefoot, Packer black eye, both in head locks on ground.”
The Sydney Morning Herald also reported that people were seen combing the area for teeth after the dust-up.
The men have been friends since meeting as students at elite private school Cranbrook in Bellevue Hill, Sydney.
In the past, Gyngell has said that Packer is “like a brother” to him and the friends even lived together early on in their friendship.
When Gyngell married Leila McKinnon in 2004, Packer was by his side as best man and when Packer wed now ex-wife Erica Baxter in the French Reviera in 2007, Gyngell returned the favour.
Their close relationship has even extended into the business sphere.
When Packer bought a nine per cent stake in the Ten Network in 2010 he championed Gyngell as an obvious choice to run the network. At the time, Gyngell dismissed the position as holding little appeal for him.
“It would be distracting, to say the least, to work for that board,” Gyngell said.
“This idea that I wouldn’t compete with Ten because my best mate is a shareholder is absolute bullshit. We are like brothers. But like brothers, we are very competitive. I look forward to smashing Ten.”