Friends save billionaire from scary Carey

James Packer and Mariah Carey © Rex Features
Packer and Carey: the romance died when the prenup arrived

If you’re obsessed with a dwindling fortune, marrying a renowned diva is probably not a good move.

You could hardly call James Packer a frugal man. At the turn of the millennium, the billionaire heir to the Packer family fortune – his father was Kerry Packer, an Australian media mogul and once the richest man in his country – was busy indulging his two big passions, said William Cohan in Vanity Fair in 2017 – polo and gambling. Packer, now 50, thought nothing of betting $400,000 on a single hand of blackjack. He is said to have once lost $20m in one night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and $12.6m at the Ritz Club in London.

His fortunes have been on something of a rollercoaster ride ever since. He lost huge sums in the dotcom crash, yet pocketed billions when he inherited his father’s empire in 2005 and sold off assets. By early 2016, he was back “in panic mode”, as his biographer, Damon Kitney, puts it in The Price of Fortune: The Untold Story of Being James Packer.

At that time he had just concluded a $1.25bn agreement to divide the family empire with his sister Gretel. His Macau casino company and Crown Resorts gaming conglomerate were struggling. The financial crisis had proved traumatic. Packer became depressed and “fanatically obsessed with the money he was losing”.

Pouring petrol on the fire

It cannot have helped Packer’s peace of mind that he had started dating a notorious diva, pop star Mariah Carey. Caught up in a whirlwind romance, Packer did his best to turn a blind eye to her whims, says Kitney. As well as bringing her personal stylist, hairdresser and make-up artist along when they travelled together, Carey flew her pet dogs in their own seats on flights, each accompanied by its own staff member.

Unfazed, just six months after they’d started dating, Packer proposed with a 35-carat emerald-cut diamond ring, thought to be worth $10m. Somewhat less romantic was his presentation of a 37-page pre-nuptial agreement. This stipulated that Carey would have to get by on $115,385 per week in the event of a divorce as well as stipulating what he was and wasn’t prepared to pay for in the meantime.

This did not go down well. But it was not the deal-breaker. Before the knot could be tied, Packer was kidnapped by friends and whisked off to Israel to prevent him turning up for the planned lavish wedding ceremony. At least, that is what associates of Packer, led by media tycoon Kerry Stokes, were accused of by Carey and her agent, reports The Times. By the time Packer returned to the US, Stokes says the moment for their wedding had passed. “James was still reasonably intent on marrying her. But circumstances had changed.”

Packer was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in March, and seems to be back on an even keel. He has resigned many of his business posts, returned to his LA home, and credits a new relationship with “saving him from himself”, says Shannon Molloy on News.com.au.

Another new acquisition should also prove to be a calming influence – he has the maharishi Thom Knoles, a spiritual guru, on speed dial to provide guidance. “He believes in me,” says Packer. “He tries to help me manage my emotions and find more happiness… and truly holy men aren’t bought by many.”

Tabloid money… some tips for closing the gender pay gap

• So much for the gender pay gap, says Melanie McDonagh in The Mail on Sunday. Colombian-American star Sofía Vergara is now the highest paid actor on American television for her role as Gloria Maria Ramírez-Pritchett in Modern Family, a “mockumentary” sitcom about, yes, a modern family.

Vergara was paid $42.5m last year – $16m more than the top-earning man, Jim Parsons, one of the stars of The Big Bang Theory, who banked $26.5m, according to Forbes magazine. Endorsement deals with coffee maker SharkNinja Coffee and furniture chain Rooms To Go added to her total. What’s more, Vergara is 46 years old. So, well done to her for not only closing the pay gap, but closing the age gap, too.

• Many women have the skills but lack the confidence to ask for better pay, says Karren Brady in The Sun on Sunday. So, here are some tips. Write down what you don’t like about your job and set out to get another one. When you get invited to an interview, it is because you can do the job. Convince them you can do it better than anyone else.

When asking for more money, know your worth. Write down all the ways you have made a big contribution, and put together testimonials. Don’t just say “yes” to work. Instead, say “I don’t really have the time, but if I can make the time, I can do it for you.” Be confident after returning from maternity leave, and have a really clear plan of how you will manage at home and at work. Get your partner to do his share – and by that I mean half.

Spare a thought for poor Tiffany Parmar, says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. The beautician filed a trademark application for her cosmetics firm, Cotswold Lashes by Tiffany. Personally, I would suggest a rethink – the name sounds too much like a rural spanking dungeon. Anyway, the mighty legal team at jeweller’s Tiffany & Co claimed that in using her name – Tiffany – she would bring its own famous brand “into disrepute”. Yes, that would be bound to happen, wouldn’t it?

Irate customers baffled by the necklaces and pendant counter at the Old Bond Street shop, because they thought they’d booked in for one of Tiff’s treatments. Parmer accuses Tiffany and Co of “bullying”. It’s one of those David and Goliath stories – huge global firm bullying a small, fledgling business.