Australian billionaire James Packer has been spotted back in Australia for what’s believed to be the first time in a year following his shock resignation.
The 51-year-old businessman was seen at Melbourne’s Crown Casino on Sunday after arriving in his private jet, with a video – shared by 7News on Twitter – showing him strolling past a designer store in all black, surrounded by a group of people.
While he is yet to confirm the reason for his visit, the Daily Telegraph reports it could be for the funeral of chef Justin Bull, who was tragically found dead in his Sydney cafe on Friday.
Bull, 46, was a former personal chef to Packer and film star Russell Crowe, before opening his cafe Huxton’s two years ago.
He has been a virtual recluse in recent times but now James Packer has returned to Australia for the first time in over a year. He flew into Melbourne this morning going straight to Crown Casino where some onlookers were shocked by his appearance. @BryanSeymour1 #7News pic.twitter.com/2esonJWy8a
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) February 10, 2019
Packer has been spending time at his property in Argentina ever since he sparked worldwide concern by sensationally quitting his business last year, with a spokesperson citing mental health reasons at the time.
“We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as director at this time,” Crown’s executive chairman John Alexander said at the time.
But a spokesman for Packer’s private investment company Consolidated Press Holdings told the Australian that Packer was taking a step back from all commitments to focus on his mental health. “Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues,” the spokesman said.
It’s been a tough few years for Packer, who split up with his wife Erica Baxter in 2013, then became embroiled in a multi-year battle with his sister Gretel in 2015 over the division of the family business empire.
Things didn’t improve in 2017, when Packer’s relationship with Mariah Carey, and their acrimonious split, attracted media attention around the world.
In an excerpt from his new biography The Price Of Fortune: The Untold Story Of Being James Packer, published by The Daily Telegraph in October last year, the billionaire opened up on his devastating split from Carey, admitting it came following a string of personal blows he was struggling to deal with at the time.
“By the time the Israel so-called Case 1000 had become public, the China arrests and Crown’s sale of Macau had occurred and the breakup with Mariah had happened, I had become toxic,” he reportedly says in the book, according to the news outlet.
It was claimed at the time that Carey received a US$50million (AU$70million) ‘inconvenience fee’ after the break-up. However, Packer reportedly denied ever leaking details of their settlement to the media at the time.
Meanwhile, in a separate excerpt published by Who magazine, Packer is said to have admitted he was battling depression at the time of their split – and while he eventually ended it, he only had good things to say about his ex.
Packer remains ranked among the top 10 wealthiest people in the country, with a net worth estimated at $3.9 billion.