Alan Bond the highly charismatic Australian businessman and art collector has died age 77. Bond, honoured as Australian of the Year after winning the America’s Cup yacht race in 1983, was convicted of four fraud charges surrounding the sale of Edouard Manet’s La Promenade. He was jailed for four years. His empire crumbled as a result and he was eventually bankrupted.
In 1996 he was convicted of swindling Aus $1.2 billion ( US$800 million) to prop up his ailing Bond Corporation. A jury had found that Bond, 58, at the time had misused his position as director of his former corporate flagship, Bond Corporation Holdings, to allow his private company to buy Manet’s La Promenade for about $10m less than its value in 1988. His private company, Dallhold Investments, bought the painting for $2.46m and sold it a year later at auction in New York for $17m.
A serious art collector at the time, Bond purchased Vincent van Gogh’s Irises for $54 million, which was a record price for a painting. It was bought using a loan from auctioneer Sotheby’s, which Mr Bond defaulted on. Irises was offered to the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, in 1990, where it now hangs.
Alan Bond was born in England in 1938 and moved to Australia with his family aged 12. He started his working life as a sign writer in Perth but moved into property development and quickly made a fortune. “I made money when I was very young — when I was 18. I wanted to have £1 million by the time I was 21. And I set out to do that,” he told Andrew Denton in a 2003 interview on the Enough Rope program. “It was important to me to get that £1 million for the safety and security of my family. After that, it was never an object in my mind — just the physical making of money. “It was only the measure of the success of the transaction, how much money you made. You don’t say, ‘Look, I want to make this much money’. It comes with actually doing things and doing them well.”
One of Australia’s richest men during the 1980s, Mr Bond’s business interests extended to brewing company Castlemaine Tooheys, gold mining and Australia’s first private university — Bond University on the Gold Coast. He also set his sights on the Nine television network — buying it from Kerry Packer for $1 billion in 1987. He was one of the poster boys for the 80s, one of the most visible of a group of Australian entrepreneurs who dominated the business scene. he recovered his finances leaving an estate of over A $250m