The photographer who snapped the pics of a brawling James Packer and Channel Nine boss David Gyngell says he thought the moguls were play-fighting at first.
Brendan Beirne, who later sold his pics of the fisticuffs to News Corp for a reported $200,000, said he thought the exchange was a bit of lighthearted play before quickly realising something was amiss.
“I thought ‘James has met his mate and they’re just having a friendly punch’, but I pretty quickly realised that wasn’t the case,” Beirne told Fairfax Media.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it because I knew I had shot some pretty powerful pictures of these guys, but it was just so left field, so unexpected.
“My jaw just dropped. I thought ‘Wow, what just happened?’ I had no idea why it had gone down or anything.”
Beirne had been tipped off on Packer’s return to Sydney.
He is a co-owner of photographic company Media Mode and his partner Sione Chown, who was across the road, captured video footage of the incident.
Beirne said he saw Gyngell sitting on a car before things turned ugly.
“He was sitting at the back of his car on the phone, just kind of hanging around looking relaxed. He didn’t look like a threat or anything so I didn’t really take any notice of what he was doing,” he said.
“Then James comes back and his car parks next to him, and as James gets out of his car and walks towards the house he takes a couple of steps and suddenly spins around and they’re on each other. It was just totally out of the blue, very unexpected for me.”