How Mariah Carey’s ex James Packer makes and spends his billions: from losing his cash cow Crown Resorts and struggling with controversies, to investing millions in Paramount and luxury properties-be

Mariah Carey’s gambling tycoon ex James Packer has seen his fair share of ups and downs, but he’s still a billionaire. Photo: Getty Images

The chips may sometimes be down for “Casino King” James Douglas Packer, but the businessman still has an eye-watering fortune and a spot in the cushy billionaires’ club.

Through the success of his global Crown Resorts business and other investments, he was once worth around US$6.6 billion, per Forbes, making him one of the richest men in Australia. Several financial crises and family issues later, he is worth less than half that, with Forbes estimating his net worth to be around US$2.7 billion now.

Here is how Packer makes and spends his money.


The Packer family business

Australian billionaire James Packer attends a news conference at Melco Crown’s Studio City in Macau, in October 2015. Photo: Reuters

James was born on September 8, 1967 into money. The only son of media moguls Kerry Packer and Roslyn Packer, and the grandson of tycoon Frank Packer, he inherited the family business, Consolidated Press Holdings Limited, and numerous other investments.

Among these was Crown Resorts, with which he would eventually make his name – and stir up controversy. Per Forbes, his father Kerry grew the media company into a broadcasting publishing empire, which at one point had an estimated worth of around US$5 billion. Then James took over and, although his fortune skyrocketed to US$6.6 billion, he is now worth around US$2.7 billion, making him the 17th richest person in Australia in 2023.

The casino controversy

James Packer used to hold a controlling stake in Crown Resorts. Photo: FloodSlicer Pty Ltd

Crown Resorts owns resorts – of course – as well as high-end private clubs in Australia and London and online betting services. It also has a stake in Nobu. It was Packer’s cash cow for decades, and with expansion into the US and China, increased revenue was expected.

But a series of controversies impacted the financials. Among these, noted The Guardian, was US$5.6 million in cash found in a cupboard at a casino in Melbourne suggesting money laundering, money deposited into the business through the wrong channels, and high-risk activities that lead to the arrest of 19 staff in China in 2016.

James Packer had to deal with a series of controversies that impacted the financials of Crown Resorts. Photo: Reuters

The events threw the company into the spotlight and shook up its leadership, with Packer quitting as director in 2015. His return to the board in 2017, as reported by the Financial Times, wasn’t enough to save the sinking ship. He stepped down from this and over 20 other boards a year later, citing mental health issues, reported Reuters.

But his stake in the company, reportedly around 36 per cent, still made him a fortune. Especially in June 2022 when investment giant Blackstone bought Crown in a deal worth around US$6.4 billion, per Bloomberg.

According to the biography Who Wants to be a Billionaire? by Paul Barry, Packer said he had to work to make his own money, otherwise he “would self-destruct, in the sense that the decadence would be too strong an attraction for me”.

Lucrative investments

James Packer arrives at a private landing stage before his wedding ceremony at the Eden Rock hotel in Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera, in 2007. Photo: Reuters

Following the sale, Packer had money to burn and went shopping for other investments. Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2023 that he was looking at an investment in Argentina’s energy or mining sectors. Per Proactive Investors, he made a A$123 million (around US$81 million) investment in US media giant Paramount.

His celebrity romances – and family matters

US singer Mariah Carey and then-boyfriend James Packer at the opening ceremony of the Studio City casino resort in Macau, in October 2015. Photo: AFP

Aside from the fall in the Crown Resorts share price amid its controversies, Packer’s fortune was divided in 2013 when he divorced his second wife, singer Erica Baxter, after six years of marriage, reported the Australian Herald Sun. Baxter got around A$100 million (around US$66 million) in the divorce settlement, per 9News Australia.

He moved onto another high-profile romance, dating pop star Mariah Carey. According to Entertainment Tonight, he even proposed to the star with a US$10 million engagement ring in January 2016. By October though, the wedding was off and he had to cough up a multimillion-dollar settlement, including a reported US$50 million “inconvenience fee”.

James Packer addressing the Commonwealth Business Forum being held before the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2013. Photo: EPA

He told 7 News Spotlight it was all part of a “downward spiral” in his life that left him “depressed, mentally exhausted, isolated and feeling like a failure”.

His fortune was divided yet again in 2015, as per Sydney Morning Herald, when he agreed to split his late father’s assets with his older sister Gretel. She reportedly received substantial shares in several major companies, the family’s rural estate worth over US$80 million, the Packer family boat, and cash of several hundred millions at the time of the settlement.

More bad behaviour

Packer and his media executive friend David Gyngell were both fined for offensive behaviour in 2014 after getting into a public physical brawl at Bondi Beach, reported Reuters. Packer told 3AWRadio he had grown a thick skin when it came to criticism: “I am the luckiest person in Australia. How many people wish they had my life? Nothing in life is perfect.”

He made headlines again in 2018 when an Israeli police report detailing how Packer, who was trying to gain residency in the nation, had sent gifts to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, per Sydney Morning Herald.

The Hollywood Reporter stated a year later that he was implicated in an alleged sex-for-jobs scandal, accused of facilitating a meeting between media executive Kevin Tsujihara and actress Charlotte Kirk in 2013 that allegedly involved non-consensual sex.

His impressive property portfolio

All Homes reported the Sydney family home once shared by Packer and Baxter was sold in 2016 for around US$46 million – but he still has an incredible property portfolio. These include, per News Australia, a US$33 million Mexican mega mansion and the former Beverly Hills love nest of J.Lo and Ben Affleck.

In 2017, The Times of Israel noted he had a home in upmarket Caesarea, Israel, right next to the country’s prime minister.

Back in Australia, Packer owns a US$48 million “sky home” overlooking the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, per Real Estate Australia. He also bought a US$60 million pad in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, US, in 2018, reported Forbes. Vogue Australia described the home as including seven bedrooms, an outdoor pool, a garage for eight cars, a beauty salon, a cigar room, a theatre and a wine room.

Private jets and yachts

Billionaire James Packer owns superyachts and private jets. Photo: @ocean_alliance/Instagram

The Age Australia reported that Packer owns a superyacht, a luxury cruise ship and a 12-seater Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. News Australia added that his US$189 million luxury superyacht has its own pool, cinema and barber’s salon. It also has space for 22 guests, 11 cabins and a private owner’s deck.

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory News in 2021 said Packer had the largest private aircraft fleet in the country at the time, with three Bombardier Global Express XRS jets.

Giving to charity

James Packer gestures while answering questions at an evening business event in Sydney, Australia, in 2012. Photo: Reuters

Packer has made multiple charitable contributions through The Packer Family Foundation and his own name. According to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the foundation was established in 2014 and monetarily supports eligible organisations in need. It has run programmes focused on economic, social and community development, and mental health.

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