Interestingly, the one person missing from the latest cruise has been Packer’s sometime girlfriend, Kylie Lim, the New York socialite who has been by Packer’s side throughout the last few turbulent years since his bitter break-up with former fiancee Mariah Carey.
PS has been unable to verify what Packer and Lim’s current relationship status is.
Meanwhile, Carey herself is not yet a distant memory for Packer, having just finished writing a tell-all memoir due out by the end of the year, which will no doubt share her version of events about her rocky time with Packer.
Another of Packer’s exes, Erica Packer, who broke up with her Cuban artist fiance Enrique Martinez in February, boarded the ship recently with their three children in what appeared to be a happy family reunion.
No doubt they were a soothing balm for Packer’s emotions. The casino mogul declined to comment when PS asked about reports of a tawdry meltdown involving Packer’s new bestie, expat Aussie and Beverly Hills party boy James Maas.
An “old friend” of Packer’s first wife Jodhi, Maas has ingratiated himself into the Packer inner sanctum in recent months.
Three weeks ago the aspiring pop singer was involved in an unseemly break up with his husband of seven years, Hollywood producer Adam Schroeder, mid-cruise on IJE.
Things got so heated Maas’ clothes were hurled overboard, while Schroeder moved into a separate cabin only to disembark early, leaving Maas behind.
It was around this time that Maas also had a run-in with Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston, who was once again enjoying the largesse of Packer sailing around Cabo.
Aston, cruelly nicknamed “Gilligan” among some of Packer’s longer-term pals, declined to be drawn on the details out of “respect” to his rich friend. However, PS understands Aston confronted Maas with accusations he had been leaking stories to the media. Though Aston later denied this.
Oddly nothing from the cruise ended up in Aston’s own column.
An indignant Maas volunteered his phone to Packer, denying he had done any such thing.
PS hears that inquisition ended with several of Packer’s guests sulking behind locked doors in their cabins.
And what are we to make of the nubile young Instagram beauty Megan Blake Irwin, who also ended up on board after partying at Packer’s Bel Air mansion.
The 25-year-old Aussie model had been dating Riverdale star Skeet Ulrich, 50, however there was no sign of Ulrich on IJE where Blake Irwin was drawing admiring glances from Packer’s long-standing right-hand man Ben Tilley.
CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN
Oliver Curtis admits he is a “resilient” sort of guy.
The husband of PS regular Roxy Jacenko who infamously served one year in prison after being convicted of insider trading believes he “deserves a second chance” after PS questioned him about a new multimillion-dollar business venture he is launching in Tasmania.
Curtis was adamant that he was abiding by the five-year ban from being a company director, despite being listed as the chief operating officer of a company called Firmus Grid, in which he is a major shareholder, along with his father, millionaire mining executive Nick Curtis.
“I am not a director in the company, I am following the rules, there is nothing amiss in that, I don’t control the business,” Curtis told PS.
“I had to do something, I wasn’t going to just sit around and do nothing. I am trying to get on with my life and rebuild my career … everyone deserves a second chance, don’t they?”
Curtis is building a data centre in Launceston which focuses on renewable energy. It is due to be completed in late August.
In 2016 Curtis was found guilty of using confidential information between May 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008 to trade on shifts in share prices, resulting in a net profit of $1,432,228.85.
He was sentenced to two years in prison but was released after one year on good behaviour.
JOCK SHOCKED AS CHARITY ROCKED
Is it the curse of Masterchef? Celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo joined the show after producers ditched former judges, including disgraced foodie George Calombaris, in an effort to distance the popular franchise from controversy.
However Zonfrillo found himself in the firing line this week following reports that raised questions about his charity Orana Foundation amid accusations of cultural appropriation of Indigenous food culture and knowledge.
Friends told PS Zonfrillo was feeling “raw” after claims that four years after the South Australian government had handed his charity $1.25 million for a “comprehensive native food database” and cultivation projects, it was yet to fully deliver.
A spokesman for Zonfrillo defended the Orana Foundation’s activities, however Zonfrillo himself was “too burned” to respond further.
LEGENDARY LUNCHES COME TO AN END
There have been many sang choy bows under the belt since Mathew Chan opened the doors of the Peacock Gardens in Crows Nest in 1975. Chan is retiring after nearly half a century, leaving behind a rich history of serving Sydney’s media and advertising powerbrokers, which foodie Kim Terakes has compiled in a rather fabulous biography.
Former Nine boss David Leckie admits to ruining a rival network star’s career over lunch by convincing him to switch networks, while another tale recounts a “work lunch” that lasted to 4.15am the next day.
But PS’s favourite belongs to advertising guy Rocky Ranallo who was lunching with his colleague Ian Morton, the pair devouring gow gees.
“Ian said to me as he was polishing off his fourth, ‘I could eat 50 of these’. Immediately sensing something very big I said ‘I bet you can’t’,” Ranallo recalls.
A former bookie, Chan quickly pulled down his bag from the shelf and started taking bets. Even the staff from the kitchen sat watching as Morton ploughed through 45, well 42 as the last three didn’t quite make it to his stomach before he called it quits.
A valiant effort, however, Morton suffered a mild heart attack the next day and ended up in hospital … two days before his wedding.
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.