Billionaire James Packer’s big 5-0 birthday plans


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The big cheese of Australian gambling is turning 50 next month, but how will James Packer celebrate such a monumental milestone?

The only son of the late media mogul Kerry Packer is not so fond of big birthday soirees and has a habit of skipping out on his family’s, including ex-wife Erica Packer’s three-day, VIP-filled 40th bash last week in Aspen, Colorado, and his sister Gretel’s intimate 50th celebrations held at Chiswick in eastern Sydney’s Woollahra last year.

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He also dodged his niece Francesca Packer Barham’s 21st when she hired out Luna Park and filled it with several hundred of her nearest and dearest in November 2015.

If marking his previous milestones are anything to go by, it will be another low-key affair. In 1997, a then nearly married Packer spent his 30th having a “quiet dinner … with just a few of his good friends, given fiance Kate [Fischer’s] absence overseas.”

It was the same for his 40th in 2007, with a source telling this publication an “intimate get-together” with friends and his then second wife, Erica Packer, was planned.

He has celebrated most in the company of his birthday twin and close friend Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert.

In 2010, they took their model wives Erica and Sarah on a double dinner date to The Winery in Surry Hills, the year after Packer hosted the fellow media magnate’s 40th on his beloved superyacht, the Arctic P.

While in 2013, Murdoch joined him on board again for their birthday, which fell a day after Packer announced his split from his wife of six years, Erica.

“I haven’t known him to have a party at all, he doesn’t like them,” a source who knows him told Fairfax Media.

In recent years, the father-of-three has rung in his birthdays on the 88-metre luxury super vessel.

“At this time of year, he usually comes down from the south of France and stays in Ibiza a while. Different friends come on at different times, he prefers smaller groups, so keeps them separate,” they added.

In past years, those friends have included Today’s Karl Stefanovic, former Nine boss and Packer’s ex-sparring partner David Gyngell, motorcycle champ Mick Doohan, Perth millionaire Tim Roberts, Packer’s ex-wife and The Upside creator Jodhi Meares, American film producer Brett Ratner and his ex-fiancee Mariah Carey.

But with the Arctic P still moored in French Polynesia, where Stefanovic, 43, his girlfriend Jasmine Yarbrough, 33, and her model friend, Rose Ashton, joined Packer for some quality downtime and jet ski racing in June, it seems Packer might be looking for a change of scenery for his semi-centennial.

Since his high-profile split with Carey in October last year, the notoriously private businessman has been keeping an even lower profile than usual, focusing on his business ventures – rejoining the board of Crown Resorts, pulling out of ailing Network Ten and investing millions in a Tel Aviv 3D and virtual reality start-up – so the source added that details are being kept “hush-hush”.

If Carey was still in the picture he could have done as his late father Kerry did for his 40th in 1977, when model Julie Ismay leapt out of the birthday cake.

After gifting Packer a Cartier wedding band for his 49th, Carey, 47, certainly has no plans to join him this time around with her on/off relationship with backing dancer Bryan Tanaka, 34, currently back on.

The pair have not remained friends, and when asked about his whereabouts recently, she said: “I don’t know where the motherf—er is.”

Fairfax Media has asked James Packer for comment.

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