Bill Gates swings into Sydney to visit sharks and city’s eliteJanuary 27, 2023
The school holiday crowd at the Sharks exhibition at the Australian Museum barely batted an eye when the elderly gentleman with an American accent wearing a cap, chinos and trainers joined them for a close encounter with an eight-metre-long model of a whale shark.
Unbeknown to the kids, the quietly spoken chap taking in the exhibit was tech billionaire, philanthropist and climate advocate Bill Gates, most recently ranked by Forbes as the seventh-richest human on the planet, worth around US$103 billion ($145 billion), give or take a few million.
Bill Gates leaves the Australian Museum last weekend.Credit:Media Mode
His security detail of three burly bodyguards was a bit of a giveaway. Gates, 67, left the Sydney cultural institution last Saturday carrying what appeared to be an item from the gift store, which PS later discovered was a booklet about the museum.
Gates has been a long-time fan of our historic museum, visiting during his last trip to town more than a decade ago.
Gates was here with his then-wife Melinda and their three children for an extended break in 2011. They rented Sydney business identity Neville “Croaky” Crichton’s former home in Point Piper. Gates’ advance party gave the place a mini spruce up and security upgrade before his arrival.
However, for this trip Gates’ children are all grown up and Melinda is now his ex after their spectacular divorce in 2021.
While shrouded in secrecy, it is understood his dozen-strong entourage this time around included other “family members”. Gates has two sisters – Libby and Kristi. The entourage is understood to have stayed in suites at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
It was also reported he was spotted with a “mystery woman” at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday.
Gates kept up a hectic schedule during his time in Sydney. Arriving by private jet (he reportedly owns four), he caught up with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Kirribilli, addressed the Lowy Institute and is understood to have had private dinner dates and catch-ups with some of Sydney’s wealthiest citizens, including Surry Hills’ Canva billionaire sweethearts, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, who share his passion for philanthropy.
Open season in Melbourne
Melbourne and this year’s Australian Open have once again proved to be the nation’s social magnet for January.
Nine director of television Michael Healy, David Gyngell, Leila McKinnon and Stan CEO Martin Kugeler take a selfie in the Nine suite at the Australian Open.Credit:Paul Rovere
Bill Gates and his crew flew in to watch the action, having bought their own tickets weeks ago.
Indeed, there was mild drama when organisers were faced with filling the prime, $15,000-a-piece court-side seat that was meant to host Melbourne weather girl and social princess Bec Judd, who PS hears had to bail at the last minute due to a nasty bout of gastro. Her footballer husband Chris represented instead.
The hottest venue outside the courts was the Piper Heidsieck Champagne Bar, a little slice of Parisian glamour that materialised outside Rod Laver Arena where a conga line of celebrities checked in for sustenance between matches.
Julia Morris soaking up the ambience at the Australian Open Piper Heidsiek Champagne Bar.Credit:Fiona Hamilton
Dannii Minogue fronted up with her partner of nine years, fellow singer and musician Adrian Newman. Phantom of the Opera singer Josh Piterman swapped his mask for a flute of bubbles on Monday with personal trainer Duncan McDaide.
Actor Rachel Griffiths and her artist husband Andy Taylor brought their daughters Adelaide and Clementine with them, while Australia’s very own funny lady Julia Morris held court with fellow comedian Rhys Nicholson.
Dannii Minogue with her long-term boyfriend Adrian Newman at the Australian Open.Credit:Fiona Hamilton
Over in official broadcast partner Nine’s suite, former television honcho David Gyngell and his wife, presenter Leila McKinnon, were busy posing for selfies with Nine’s director of television Michael Healy and Stan chief Martin Kugeler.
Tonight’s women’s final crowd should also prove interesting, with the headline-making activewear designer Pip Edwards due court-side. Yesterday the VIP crowd included Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.
Family affair: actor Rachel Griffiths with daughters Adelaide and Clem, and her artist husband Andy Taylor, at the Australian Open.Credit:Fiona Hamilton
Firm friends off-air
They may now work for rival networks and have both weathered their share of publicity storms, but clearly embattled Ten personality Lisa Wilkinson and her former Today colleague at Nine, Sylvia Jeffreys, had much to catch up on over their four-hour dinner at Paddington’s hip Ursula’s restaurant on Wednesday night.
Solid friendship: Lisa Wilkinson and Sylvia Jeffreys.Credit:Lisa Wilkinson/Instagram
PS hears the women, who have maintained a solid friendship, were deep in conversation and in no hurry to call it a night.
Duchess tight-lipped over tour
Organisers of Sarah, Duchess of York’s upcoming speaking tour are still waiting for the royal to come back with new dates for her trip to Australia after an unspecified “scheduling conflict” resulted in her February dates being scrapped.
It is not clear what the scheduling conflict was, though the forthcoming coronation of King Charles III, the ongoing controversy surrounding Prince Harry and her own scandal-plagued ex-husband Prince Andrew could all be factors. The last thing the firm needs right now is another set of loose lips.
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Credit:Getty
The concept of her shows revolved around the duchess sitting on stage and sharing previously untold stories about life within the royal family, which given recent headlines would certainly make for an engaging tutorial.
Disappointed but determined the shows will happen, promoter and Lateral Events boss Simon Baggs told PS ticket sales had been particularly strong in Sydney, where prices ranged from $99 to $188 for her 2000-seat show titled In Conversation With and featuring the duchess chatting with Ray Martin.
Ferguson was estimated to be earning about $250,000 from her tour of Australia, which also covered Melbourne and Brisbane.
“We are waiting for her to come back with new dates and we have to lock those in with the theatres depending on their availability,” Baggs told PS, who added ticket holders could get a refund now or hold on until replacement dates are announced.
Meanwhile, in March Sydney will host former US president Barack Obama on his speaking tour of Australia, for which he is estimated to be earning at least $500,000 per appearance.
Former US president Barack Obama is popular on the speaking circuit.Credit:AP
Obama is being brought to Sydney by local conference company the Growth Faculty, which has been organising speaking tours for more than a decade.
In 2011 Growth Faculty founder and CEO Karen Beattie brought Hollywood actor George Clooney to town for a business seminar where he delivered a speech, hosted a lunch and cocktail party and then collected a fee of more than $600,000, before jumping on a jet to head home.
A lot has changed in the speaking business since then, and Beattie has evidently learnt some big lessons from the Clooney experience. For Obama’s trip, technology means his talk will also be live-streamed to paying subscribers on top of those paying a premium to be in the audience in Sydney, increasing the earnings potential.
Fly in, fly out: George Clooney.Credit:AP
Over the years Sydney has been a lucrative destination for big-name stars looking for an easy pay packet.
In 2002 former US president Bill Clinton spent eight days in Australia, delivering seven speeches in five cities. His fee for the whirlwind speaking tour was $US1.175 million, according to The Washington Post, and that didn’t include his travel and lodging reimbursements.
The Star forked out about $500,000 each for actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Pacino to make appearances in Sydney a decade ago.
Pre-scandal, actor Kevin Spacey is said to have taken a fee of about $650,000 for his Richard III performance in 2011 at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, while Stevie Wonder was rumoured to have once picked up a $500,000 pay packet for a VIP show.
There’s nothing cool about this year’s OzKitsch’s Coldest 100 countdown, the cultural counterpoint to the annual Hottest 100, that also gets under way on Saturday across Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.
Hidden talent: Germaine Greer.
Compiled by the master of cringe, former journalist turned corporate relations consultant Andrew Sholl via his @OzKitsch social media handle, this will be the seventh annual Coldest 100.
Last year’s event generated more than 5 million individual views of various abominations, which over the years have ranged from the dulcet tones of Alan Belford Jones, resplendent in a pastel pink ensemble murdering his way through all the lyrics of I Am Australian on stage with Andre Rieu, to Jones’ 2GB replacement, Ben Fordham, and a truly awful misappropriation of Roxanne, turned into Vaccine.
So popular has the annual countdown become, Sholl has been in talks with several television producers about turning the OzKitsch concept into a fully fledged TV program. Bring it on.
This year Scholl has unearthed an entirely new batch of horrendous performances to savour, including, Today’s Karl Stefanovic and his former television partner Lisa Wilkinson singing Summer Nights from Grease in a 2012 telethon. They sound like strangled cats.
Far more pleasing to the ear is feminist icon Germaine Greer singing the Tammy Wynette classic Stand By Your Man in 2001.
Greer has quite a set of pipes, especially as she hits the high notes, and it turns out she was not afraid of showing them off. She was a regular performer on a show called Nice Time with Kenny Everett in England during the late 1960s.
There’s also a 17-year-old Julia Morris singing and wriggling her way through Holding Out For A Hero in a pair of court shoes during her appearance on Bert Newton’s New Faces in 1985, a clip of Chips Rafferty singing I’m Not A Flamin’ Kiwi in 1965 and Marlene Dietrich during her 1965 Australian tour singing Boomerang Baby.
And we can only guess what Tina Arena must think of her appearance flogging fried chicken in the 1983 advert promoting Ollie’s Family Restaurants, a long-defunct Victorian fast food chain.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in Culture
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article