The following is an extract from The Price of Fortune: The Untold Story of Being James Packer by Damon Kitney. Harper Collins. RRP $45.00.
James Packer calls it ‘the best Christmas I’ve ever had’. In December 2017, he and his ex-wife, Erica, spent their first family Christmas – with their three children, Indigo, Jackson and Emmanuelle – in the Aspen house they jointly own, West Buttermilk Estate. A week later, the day after his children headed back to Los Angeles, his first wife, Jodhi Meares, arrived in Aspen with her sister Sophie Morgan. James’s mother, Ros, was also there for the New Year period, spending some precious time with her only son.
Remarkably, through the horrors of recent years, as everything else spiralled out of control, James’s greatest comfort came from his contact with these three most important women in his life. He still calls his ex-wives, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘Eri’ and ‘Joda’, his ‘best friends’, while he calls his mother ‘Mummy’. Over recent years, another name has been added to the list of his closest female confidantes – his current partner, Canadian-born model Kylie Lim. James says he hopes to have the same ‘magical’ experience with Erica and his children in Aspen for Christmas 2018. It’s a fair bet Meares and his mother will visit again at some stage, as will Lim.
Sitting in the living room of that very house, with its spectacular backdrop of magnificent Colorado snow country visible over his shoulder through the floor-to-ceiling windows, I ask him how he has managed to stay friends with both his exes. There is a long pause before he eventually answers; it is clear this is tough terrain. ‘Erica is my priority. She is the mother of my kids. And the kids are my priority,’ he says, slowly. ‘Jodhi is a great source of happiness and friendship in my life. I talk to Erica multiple times a day. And I think Jodhi is an incredibly special person. I’m just so lucky to have them both in my life.’
James describes his weddings as ‘epic and different’. After a four-year romance – punctuated by a short period apart – he and Erica married at the majestic Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera in June 2007 in a lavish $6 million affair. They invited 182 guests to the wedding, and 180 turned up for the big day, including Rupert Murdoch and his then wife Wendi Deng, Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Lloyd Williams, Alan Jones, cricketer Shane Warne, TV host Karl Stefanovic, and Packer company executives John Alexander, Chris Anderson and Ian Law. Erica wore a $100,000 Christian Dior gown. Hundreds of thousands of flowers were flown in specially from the Netherlands. Erica’s sister, Joanna, was her bridesmaid, while then Channel Nine chief executive and James’s best mate David Gyngell was his best man. But this was not a show wedding.