Friday 20 July 2018

Newsmaker: James Packer

James Packer was forced to sell the mega-mansion he had put €14m toward constructing
James Packer was forced to sell the mega-mansion he had put €14m toward constructing Newsdesk Newsdesk

It was the love nest that never was. After three years and €14m spent on building a six-storey martial home, James Packer, the Australian casino tycoon, has been forced to sell the mega-mansion after splitting from his wife before the couple even moved in.

The sprawling home with views of Sydney Harbour was built for Mr Packer and Erica Baxter, then his wife.

But the couple split up before they could move into La Mer - which features a rooftop pool, cinema and 20-car underground garage. Both are now dating pop singers: he is going out with Mariah Carey and Ms Baxter with Seal.

The jet-setting pair have now sold the property in the Valcuse district for €46m, the highest price ever paid for an Australian property. Despite the record price, they are expected to only just break even.

According to Lucy Macken, a Fairfax Media property writer: "Having outlaid A$30m (€20m) to acquire the three properties that were amalgamated for the site in 2009 and 2010, he spent an estimated A$40m (€27m) on a mammoth extension."

In a reflection of the growing demand among wealthy Chinese for Australian properties, La Mer was bought by Dr Chau Chak Wing, a Chinese-Australian billionaire developer.

Mr Packer's current Sydney residence is a beachside €14m-plus penthouse in Bondi.

Somewhat incredibly, the 47-year-old is proving to be an even more audacious figure than his late father Kerry Packer, a gambling-obsessed media mogul who founded one-day cricket and who once lost €19m during a three-day baccarat binge in Las Vegas.

The younger Packer moved away from the family's media interests to focus on the gaming sector and has increasingly expanded his business activities abroad.

He and his Crown Resorts empire own numerous casinos across Australia and in Macau, as well as Crown Aspinall's in Mayfair in London, and a casino in the Philippines.

He is now building a new €3.2bn, 1,100-room casino resort in Las Vegas, which is due to open in 2018.

Mr Packer, who used to be a close friend of Tom Cruise and studied scientology after the failure of his first marriage to swimsuit model Jodhi Meares, has also invested in Hollywood films; he said this week that his next plan is to invest in the area of cyber security.

Ms Baxter, who lives in a reported €65,000-a-month rented home in Los Angeles with the couple's three children, will apparently receive at least half of the sale price of La Mer.

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