Australian billionaire James Packer and infamous socialite Ghislaine Maxwell share an unlikely history of heartbreak, it has emerged.
While there is no suggestion Mr Packer has ever met Maxwell, their love lives surprisingly crossed over in the early 90s.
A young Packer was dating glamorous British TV weather girl Tania Bryer about the time Maxwell was in a long-time relationship with the ‘dashing and charming’ Italian aristocrat Count Gianfranco Cicogna.
After both relationships ended in tears, Ms Bryer would go on to fall into the arms of Count Cicogna, while Maxwell was reportedly left in despair.
Ghislaine’s next love would be Jeffrey Epstein.
The intriguing connection comes as decades-old newspaper clippings resurfaced this week, shedding light on Maxwell and Epstein’s links to the Australian social set in the 1990s.
An old gossip item recalled how the now-notorious pair traveled Down Under to visit friends in Melbourne, party on Sydney Harbour and kick back on the Great Barrier Reef.
Separate archived material reveals the cross-over in the love lives of one of Packer’s old flames and Ms Maxwell, who was once better known than Epstein.
The press first spotted Packer – then popularly known as ‘Jamie’ – cozied up with Ms Bryer in the stands of the 1990 Melbourne Cup as one of Bart Cummings’ horses, Kingston Rule, roared in one of fastest ever victories.
Rumours of impending nuptials whirled, with paparazzi photos showing Ms Bryer and Packer partying together in London by night and attending the polo by day.
But it was all over by the end of 1992, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting Ms Bryer was ‘entangled in the arms’ of a new man, Count Gianfranco Cicogna.
The Count, described by one report as a ‘dashing, charming member of the Ciga hotels clan’, was fresh from a four-year-long relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell.
In the Herald’s words, ‘true to Latin form, he includes among his brace of previous chums such names as Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late Cap’n Bob’.
(Ghislaine’s newspaper proprietor father, Robert, owned a superyacht, The Lady Ghislaine, and was dubbed ‘Captain Bob’ after drowning near it).
In 1992, The Mail on Sunday described Maxwell’s relationship with the Count as a formative experience.
‘Even before her father died a year ago, Ghislaine had split from her great love, Count Gianfranco Cicogna,’ journalist Michael Robotham wrote.
The Count was ‘the man who moulded the Ghislaine we now see. He told her where to get her hair cut, and what to wear.’
In her heartbreak, the Mail’s report said she had since turned to a ‘greying, plumpish, middle-aged American businessman’: Jeffrey Epstein.
That relationship has now been well and truly covered off, with Epstein dead and Maxwell awaiting trial on allegations she covered up his sex crimes.
In the years that followed, Ms Bryer became engaged to the Count, but broke it off prior to the wedding and later marrying sports agent Tim Moufferidge. The Count, a stunt pilot, died in an aeroplane crash in 2012.
As for Packer, Ms Bryer – now a guest presenter and producer with international news network CNBC – is just one of a long list of former flames.
Ms Bryer was the second weathergirl he was linked to in his youth, following Swedish TV star Ulrika Johnson.
Packer later dated singer Deni Hines and model Kate Fischer (now Tziporah Malkah) and married Jodhi Meares, Erica Baxter and, most famously, Mariah Carey.
There’s no suggestion Mr Packer or Ms Bryer have ever rubbed shoulders with Ghislaine Maxwell, let alone Jeffrey Epstein.
But in the incestuous world of the love lives of the rich and famous, it’s clear at one point they were just a degree removed from one another.