Rene Rivkin’s death has sent Rupert
Murdoch’s publishing arm Harper Collins into a spin. Its unauthorised
bio of the great investor, which will be published on 17 July, was
about to go to press when the subject committed suicide. Its author,
the Financial Review’s Andrew Main, was forced to rewrite the
final chapter – which was originally quite upbeat about the prospect of
a Rivkin comeback – last week.

Harper Collins saved Main the
painstaking process of revising the entire manuscript by offering up an
editor to change all the present tenses to past tense. That was many
hours of painstaking reading and editing. It will still be quite a
scramble, but Rivkin Unauthorised: the meteoric rise and tragic fall of an unorthodox money man
will still be published on 17 July, shortly after Main’s updated HIH
book, taking in the jailing of Ray Williams and Rodney Adler, hit the
streets.

Rene Rivkin used to be very close to the Packer family and he told Andrew Denton on Enough Rope
in 2003 that he used to be a father figure to James Packer. The
relationship with camp Packer was never quite so good, although one of
his children was given a job on The Sunday Telegraph in the mid 1990s.

Rivkin’s subsequent defamation actions against The Australian, and The Daily Telegraph‘s
coverage of the Caroline Byrne tragedy, ensured relations would never
recover. So it’s fitting that Murdoch’s publishing arm commissioned a
Fairfax critic to write what is still expected to be quite a
hard-hitting biography.

Peter Fray

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