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Alan Bond

1938 – 2015

Born in London, Alan Bond (1938–2015) emigrated with his family in 1950 and began his working life as a signwriter. Awarded Australian of the Year in 1978 for his backing of two unsuccessful attempts at the America’s Cup, Bond would go on to mount a further three challenges, becoming a national hero when Australia II won the America’s Cup – possibly the most prestigious of sporting events – for Australia in 1983 with Ben Lexcen’s innovative winged keel design. His syndicate financed Royal Perth Yacht Club’s unsuccessful defence of the Cup in 1987, which brought further international attention to Australia and its yachting prowess.

Flamboyant in his business dealings, his Bond Corporation acquired the giant Castlemaine Tooheys beer empire, giving him control of more than 40% of Australia’s beer market. He paid a record price for Van Gogh’s painting Irises, funded the establishment of the eponymous private Bond University on the Gold Coast and bought Channel Nine for $1 billion.

By 1989 Bond’s business empire unravelled spectacularly; he was declared bankrupt in 1992 and was jailed several times throughout the 1990s for misuse of corporate funds and art fraud. He was stripped of his Order of Australia in 1997. A controversial figure, following release from jail in 2000, Bond, by the time of his death had regained much of his fortune through astute investments. In 2013, he joined former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and skipper of Australia II John Bertrand for a televised 30th anniversary celebration of the historic America’s Cup win.

Two Australians of the Year were announced in 1978 by the rival Melbourne and Canberra Australia Day Councils. The other awardee was Galarrwuy Yunupingu.

Updated 2018