For most of her privileged young life Francesca Packer Barham has been described as ‘notoriously private’, ‘low-profile’ and ‘seldom seen’.
That has all changed in recent months as the billionaire-in-waiting has made constant headlines and attracted the sort of attention her family generally avoids.
The heir to the Packer fortune has become a fixture in gossip columns where her lavish lifestyle and conspicuous spending are recounted seemingly every week.
At the same time as her profile increases, rumours have emerged of Packer Barham cutting ties with PR maven Roxy Jacenko, six years after they became a team.
With her uncle James seeking refuge on his superyacht or at homes in Los Angeles and Mexico, she is by far the most visible local member of the Packer clan in Sydney.
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For most of her privileged young life Francesca Packer Barham has been described as ‘notoriously private’. That has changed in recent months. She is pictured at her 26th birthday party last month on Sydney Harbour with former bikie associate Mark Judge (right)
The heir to the Packer fortune has become a fixture in gossip columns where her lavish lifestyle and conspicuous spending are recounted seemingly every week. She is pictured at the Coachella festival in California in 2017
Francesca Packer Barham (right) is the daughter of Gretel Packer (left) and granddaughter of Ros Packer (centre). Her grandfather was the late billionaire Kerry Packer
A report appeared earlier this month that Packer Barham wanted the one thing she cannot buy – privacy.
After photographs of her 26th birthday party were published on news websites around the country she was contemplating hiring personal security.
But Packer Barham already has a sometime companion she says makes her feel safe: former Rebels bikie associate Mark Judge, who was at her birthday party.
There was no chance of those festivities escaping the attention of Sydney’s paparazzi – it was held in daylight on the harbour in full view of drones and cameras.
Packer Barham – known as ‘Chessie’ to her friends – was not accustomed to being followed everywhere while she was studying for a diploma at the Inchbald School of Design in London.
The grandaughter of the late Kerry Packer and daughter of Gretel Packer and her ex-husband, English financier Nick Barham, was born in Sydney but spent the first five years of her life in Surrey.
Back in Sydney she went to the exclusive Ascham School at Edgecliff, ‘because that’s what we do’, she once said.
For her 25th birthday (pictured) Packer Barham donned a low-cut blue gown and adorned herself with diamonds for a Disneyland-themed dinner in the city at Bistro Guillaume
Packer Barham has more than 300,000 followers on Instagram where she records her travels around the world and other adventures
Packer Barham made her debut at Le Bal des Débutantes in Paris with Robert Kennedy jnr’s daughter Kyra aged 19 in 2013.
There were then only sporadic splashes on the social pages until fairly recently. Packer Barham has become far more well known – mostly for for spending money – this year.
In September she was revealed as the ‘mystery bidder’ who spent $575,000 on a 17.34 carat emerald cut diamond ring.
That purchase broke the previous record of $450,000 for a single piece of jewellery sold at auction in Australia.
The next month Packer Barham was spotted wearing diamonds with activewear in Room 4 Pets at Westfield Bondi Junction, where she reportedly handed over $9,000 for a cavoodle.
As she picked up the King Charles spaniel/miniature poodle cross pup Packer Barham was in the company of Double Bay hairdresser Jacki Mann.
Packer Barham (pictured with her mother Gretel) was born in Sydney but spent the first five years of her life in Surrey. When she returned to her home town she attended Ascham School at Bellevue Hill
Packer Barham’s uncle James and later grandfather Kerry (both pictured) built business careers in casinos and television. She has said she is unlikely to follow in their footsteps
Mann has become something of a fixture in Packer Barham’s privileged life, having moved into her sub-penthouse in Darlinghurst’s Horizon building.
Last month Mann was seen driving around Double Bay in a matte black Aston Martin, reportedly a gift from his generous new best friend.
Her own wheels are said to be a Rolls-Royce Phantom, worth about $1million.
Meanwhile, the single Packer Barham has been liking the smouldering Instagram posts of Jet Kenny, son of Lisa Curry and Grant Kenny.
Over the years Packer Barham has had relationships with Van Hoorn guitarist Joshua Mullane and Melbourne property developer Kelli Holland.
Interest in her love life will only escalate after she split from Sam Zacharia, the personal trainer son of celebrity plastic surgeon Michael Zacharia.
Packer Barham’s grandmother Ros is a noted philanthropist and the 26-year-old has said she would like to follow in her footsteps. The two are pictured at Melbourne’s Crown Casino
Packer Barham laid out $16million for the five-bedroom, five-bathroom Horizon apartment, which occupies a whole floor of the Harry Seidler-designed complex.
Her level 40 digs have 360 degree views of the harbour, Cote D’Azure marble, French oak herringbone parquetry, bespoke lighting and wine room.
That October 2019 purchase came two years after Packer Barham sold her home in Melbourne’s South Yarra for $7.6 million.
For years Packer Barham flew largely under the radar in Sydney, turning up occasionally at events with mother Gretel and grandmother Ros, and throwing lavish birthday parties.
Each of the bashes was wildly different, with one of the few constants being the presence of Ros and Gretel.
She celebrated her 21st birthday in 2015 by hiring out Sydney’s harbourside children’s playground Luna Park, dressed as Minnie Mouse.
Guests were asked to ‘come as who you wanted to be when you were a kid’, and donations to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead were requested in lieu of gifts.
Packer Barham (right) celebrated her 21st birthday in 2015 by hiring out Sydney’s harbourside children’s playground Luna Park, dressed as Minnie Mouse
A report appeared in December that Packer Barham was contemplating hiring a personal security guard after photographs of her 26th birthday party appeared on news websites
Among those to attend were Jacenko and TV presenters Richard Wilkins, Natalie Barr and Lisa Wilkinson.
For her 25th, Packer Barham donned a low-cut blue gown and adorned herself with diamonds for a Disneyland-themed dinner in the city at Bistro Guillaume.
Guests included Jacenko, her husband Oliver Curtis, Olympic great Ian Thorpe, NRL player Tom Burgess and his girlfriend Tahlia Giumelli.
Turning 26 last month, Packer Barham invited her pals aboard The Island day club where guests were asked to follow a ‘Eurotrash/Logomania’ dress theme.
She wore a Fendi ensemble, again bedecked with diamonds.
This time Packer Barham was joined by Judge and Mann but no Jacenko, who was forced to deny the pair had fallen out.
‘There is no feud,’ Jacenko told Daily Mail Australia on Friday. ‘She’s a lovely girl, and I’ve been around her since she was 20 years of age.
‘My favourite thing is when people assume something about me and I shock them by knowing something,’ Packer Barham has said. ‘I think being underestimated is the best thing on the planet’
‘At the same time, I’ve got a family, I’ve got children and I’m running seven businesses. So no, I’m not out at every possible shindig there is.’
Packer Barham seemed happy to speak to gossip columnist Andrew Hornery about her latest party, while wanting a bit more privacy.
‘Sunday for me was as much about creating memories and reconnecting with friends as it was about celebrating a birthday,’ she said.
‘It was really special to be surrounded by so many friends and have a bit of fun.’
At the same time Packer Barham reportedly said privately that being the focus of so much attention was taking a toll on her.
Packer Barham is said to barely drink and spends most nights at home with her dog watching Netflix. What she does with the rest of her time is less clear.
Her declared passion has been interior design but she has also studied philosophy at Sydney University. In 2015 she said philanthropy was a ‘more natural fit’.
With her uncle James seeking refuge on his superyacht or at homes in Los Angeles and Mexico, Packer Barham ( back row, centre) is by far the most visible local member of the Packer clan in Sydney
She has been involved in the Red Cross, Pink Hope, which supports women at risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s Young Appeals Committee.
Packer Barham gave one of her longest interviews to the Sydney Morning Herald as a 21-year-old in June 2016.
Back then she said it was unlikely she would follow in the footsteps of uncle James or grandfather Kerry, who made his fortune in television.
‘I love business, I just don’t think I’m going to be a casino magnate,’ she said.
‘My favourite thing is when people assume something about me and I shock them by knowing something. I think being underestimated is the best thing on the planet.’
In August 2017 she told the Telegraph she had envied other girls at Ascham who knew exactly what they wanted to do for a living.
‘If I found myself in five, ten, 15 years doing something that I loved, whether that be a career or raising a family or both, or whatever,’ she said.
‘If I can wake up every day and know that I love the life that I have been living, that to me will make me successful.’