Gretel Packer gets Palm Beach in family negotiations

Gretel Packer gets Palm Beach in family negotiations
Gretel Packer gets Palm Beach in family negotiations

Australia's newest billionaire Gretel Packer has seemingly secured the longtime Palm Beach retreat in the recent settlement that divvied up the assets from the family's vast fortune.

She is the sole director and secretary of the newly created company that now owns the prestige northern beaches estate.

The bungalow on its well-shaded 4000 sqm beachfront reserve holding was transferred recently with a notional $24 million value.

It was 1981 when her father, the late media tycoon Kerry Packer broke through the beachside suburb's million-dollar threshold with his $1 million purchase of the Ocean Road holding from the MacCormick family, who had paid 12,000 pounds in 1952.

The $24 million figure ranks as Palm Beach's priciest as the prior high was the $22 million paid nearby by car dealer Laurie Sutton in 2012 for the trophy home, Kalua.

Gretel and her brother, James reached a private settlement last September finalising the will of their father, Kerry who passed away of kidney failure in 2005, nine days after his 68th birthday. There has since been a further finalisation of the initial settlemement.

The paperwork on the property division only emerged last month at NSW Land Titles office.

The very private Gretel Packer, a 49-year-old mother, businesswoman, philanthropist and arts patron, has remained largely out of the headlines for most of her life.

But she will now be on the rich lists, as Australia’s newest billionaire after the deal with her younger brother. She was spotted having a coffee with valuer Paul Donovan from Pontons this week.

I recall reporting on the shyness of the young Gretel who got a $290,000 Cartier diamond choker and earings from her dad at her 21st birthday in 1987 when 350 guests partied at the Bellevue Hill.

Last year lunching a $200 million philanthropic fund for indigenous education and community welfare and the arts, the Packer Family Foundation’s chairwoman said philanthropy had always been a part of her life — "sometimes private, sometimes public, but always there."

She is a trustee of the Sydney Theatre Company Foundation, a patron of the Taronga Zoo Foundation and a board member of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Marrying twice, first to financier Nick Barham and then spiritualist, Shane Murray, she has been based at the 1919 Edwardian Bellevue Hill residence, Winston since paying for $11.25 million in 2000. 

The family matriarch, Ros, currently in India, was mostly in residence at the Palm Beach bungalow over summer and remains chatelaine of Cairnton, the longtime Packer family estate in Bellevue Hill.

“Gretel and James have always been very close and their love and respect after the settlement is as much if not more than before,” Rob Rankin, the chief executive of the Packers’ private company Consolidated Press Holdings told News Ltd last year. 

Rob ­Rankin said the settlement honoured their late father's wishes.

Gretel Packer had always known that, on her father's death, it would be her brother James Packer who would take the family business forward.

The LA-based casino tycoon has since dismantled most of the multibillion-dollar media empire built by his late father Kerry Packer and grandfather Frank Packer, which included the Nine television network and ACP Magazines.

James Packer's passionate project is the $2 billion luxury hotel-casino complex at Sydney’s Barangaroo, due to open in 2019, with plans to have wealthy gamblers visit his Ellerston golf course.

This article first appeared in the Saturday Daily Telegraph.



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