It was the footpath brawl that stopped a nation. Two sons of greats who went toe-to-toe on a Sunday in Sydney. And if the whole truth is never known, some of the tooth, at least, might turn up?
If early reviews of the bout were accurate, one of the combatants lost a tooth while both suffered the ignominy of being seen wrestling like schoolboys over a pretty girl.
The damage reportedly has sparked a dental recovery exercise. James Packer’s security were searching early Sunday near the brick wall of his bachelor pad.
Standing nearby was Packer’s banged up, angry, unshaven, barefoot, tracksuit-wearing dentally-uncertain best mate of 35 years David Gyngell.
The sons of Kerry and Bruce, the inheritors of the mogul mantle, boys together, flat mates, men in their late 40s, belting each other on a Bondi footpath, on camera.
“Packer (packed) a punch but copped a couple of hits straight to the jaw,” one witness said.
“Then they all fell on the concrete fence and I think the other guy (Gyngell) broke his face … They were looking for teeth after he left …”
Headlocked and slammed into the sort of bricks and mortar $20 million buys you. A couple of blows to the jaw. Yeah, that would do it. With a black eye and swollen cheekbone, Packer was looking worse than usual, too.
There were always going to be witnesses in a busy street on a fine afternoon in Bondi for a more gripping slice of reality than Gyngell’s Nine has perpetrated for a while. Given the internet buzz, they’d be crazy not to commission a sequel.
It’s only the most recent problem for the billionaire, who told Forbes magazine in March: “Business is good right now, but now my personal life is a disaster.”
Leaving his wife Erica Baxter and three kids last year, Packer’s recent life is the stuff of domestic tragedy, but probably a lot more fun with $6 billion, a playboy life and a mate like Miranda Kerr.
Gyngell, twice Packer’s best man, school-mate and business buddy reportedly took issue with the split.
Sunday’s papers wouldn’t have helped. Kerr played down Packer romance rumours. She denied being in a relationship and, for Packer, it seemed dating Kerr was likely to end in tears.
“Holy crap, big street fight outside my house … Not thugs, James Packer … And some other angry bloke going toe to toe – total brawl .. Wow”, came the first review, on Facebook.
“Like two mad dogs going at each other’s throats,” another concurred.
“… I was so thrilled, with a camera in my hand I didn’t take a pic,” one witness admitted.
With the paparazzi photos being sold to News Corp for a rumoured $200,000, the witness will be feeling ill, but not as ill as Packer.
The photographers were there hoping Kerr would turn up to keep romance rumours simmering. They will settle for the brawl, and Packer can’t say he wasn’t warned.
His neighbours, who are reportedly used to odd behaviour, knew what was coming. They were alarmed to hear Gyngell outside the Packer mansion raging on the phone about 2pm, promising to punch someone.
A security guard tried to calm him in the driveway, but then Packer arrived.
“They just went at each other,” another witness said.
The guard and Packer’s driver tried to break it up, hanging off their backs. The prolonged fight stopped at the sound of head hitting fence.
Gyngell, minus beard, went back Monday to smooth things over … or collect teeth.
He told reporters nothing had changed in their relationship and proceeded to belt up Packer – but not really. The pair, schoolmates, flatmates, groom and best man, instead released a joint statement.
“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.”
Packer appears to have suffered more than a raw steak will fix. A doctor popped in, and later a mogul mate.
Lachlan Murdoch dropped by to see Packer Monday afternoon, proof that in every storm there’s a silver lining. He’s got 51 pictures.
But late Monday, the new owners of the photos created their own internet sensation, not by releasing documentary proof of the stoush, rather a dense collection of the News Corp watermarks purporting to be a couple of gentlemen flinging fists at one another.
If you squint and tilt your head, you can almost see it.
— Michael Genovese (@GenoveseMichael) May 5, 2014