In a picture tweeted to Elon Musk’s 8.3 million followers, actress Amber Heard is leaning casually on the billionaire inventor’s shoulder at the Gold Coast, Musk sporting a lipstick kiss on his cheek.
So why post such an intimate photograph?
Curtin University Associate Professor in internet studies Tama Leaver said Musk’s post was far from a casual snap.
“I think both of them have probably discussed and thought carefully about wanting this relationship to be public, and I think this is a fairly canny way of doing that,” he said.
“I think for both of them this will satisfy any local newspapers that needed an image.
“They’re obviously happy with their relationship being public and I think a statement like this often does suggest that there’s actually been a bit of history to this relationship, it’s something they want people to know about and I don’t think you could craft an image better.”
It’s the first time the couple have publicly posted about their relationship on social media.
According to Page Six, rumours of a Heard and Musk relationship began during the northern hemisphere summer last year when they were seen together on a couple of occasions.
Heard’s short-lived marriage to actor Johnny Depp ended after their divorce was settled in August 2016, with Heard receiving $US7 million.
Musk, the co-founder of car maker Tesla, has been married three times to two women and has six children, and finalised his divorce from Talulah Riley last year.
Last time Heard was in Australia, she and Depp appeared at the Southport Magistrates Court to face biosecurity charges for bringing their dogs Pistol and Boo into the country without the proper quarantine authorisation.
“Amber Heard in particular, the last time she was in Australia was memorable for all the wrong reasons,” Dr Leaver said
“It’s a good thing that she’s not surrounded by a strange controversy about small dogs.”
Dr Leaver said the images – Heard tweeted a different image from the same night – were a good way for the couple to spread a positive message about their relationship.
“Looking at the image that went with that, he’s got lipstick on his cheek so it’s not meant to be in any way ambiguous.
“I think it’s one of those elated public statements of intimacy more than anything else, and I think that’s quite important for both of them,” he said.
“To some extent it’s a very provocative image, because it does suggest that this isn’t just dinner, this is a lot more so I think that it’s done quite a lot with a single image.”
The photograph is some excellent publicity for the restaurant too, but Dr Leaver said that was more a coincidence than a concerted marketing effort.
“It’s certainly not going to do the restaurant any harm … I think Elon Musk is one of those people that has an extremely positive social media following so that certainly will do them some good.”
Dr Leaver said it was highly unlikely the restaurant paid for the exposure – especially given the fact that Moo Moo’s Twitter account was not tagged – but also because it was not something Musk would do.
“I think it would be more detrimental to him as sort of an entity to bother promoting a restaurant,” he said.
There was also speculation about whether Musk would mix business with pleasure while in Australia – a Tesla spokesperson told the AFR the visit was non-official, but tech site Gizmodo has suggested other reasons Musk could be in town.
Heard is in Queensland for the filming of Aquaman, which has brought a number of high-profile celebrities to the Gold Coast including Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones fame.
Filming for the DC Comics feature has been under way at the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast and at locations around the south-east of the state, and the film is scheduled for international release next year.