Alan Bond

Alan Bond (22 April 1938 – 5 June 2015) was an English-born Australian businessman noted for his high-profile and often corrupt business dealings. These included his central role in the WA Inc scandals of the 1980s, and what was at the time the biggest corporate collapse in Australian history and also for his criminal conviction that saw him serve four years in prison. He is also remembered for bankrolling the successful challenge for the 1983 America's Cup, the first time the New York Yacht Club had lost it in its 132-year history. He is also the founder of Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia.

Alan Bond
Born(1938-04-22)22 April 1938
Died5 June 2015(2015-06-05) (aged 77)
Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia
Years active1954–1992
Known for
  • Business magnate
  • yachting sponsor
  • corporate criminal
  • Founding Bond Corporation Holdings Ltd
TitleCEO of Bond Corporation Holdings Ltd
Criminal chargeCorporate fraud
Criminal penaltyFour years' imprisonment
  • Eileen Hughes
    (m. 1955; div. 1992)
  • Diana Bliss
    (m. 1995; died 2012)

Early life

Alan Bond was born on 22 April 1938, the son of Frank and Kathleen Bond[1] in the Hammersmith district of London, England. In 1950, aged 12, he emigrated to Australia with his parents and his elder sister Geraldine,[2] living in Fremantle, near Perth. At the age of 14, he was charged with stealing and being unlawfully on premises. Aged 18, he was arrested for being unlawfully on premises, and reportedly admitted planning a robbery.[1][3]


Bond began his career as a signwriter under the name 'Nu-Signs' after terminating his apprenticeship 18 months before it was due to end.[4] In 1956 he was charged with attempted burglary, having been found by police roaming the streets of Fremantle dressed in State Electricity Commission overalls and carrying tools.[5] Nu-Signs changed its name to Lesmurdie Heights – after the name of Bond's biggest estate – and changed the name again to Bond Corporation in 1959. In the 1960s, as a property developer in an expanding market, he was one of WA's largest borrowers from finance companies eager to lend to developers and uncritical of the valuations Bond put on his estates. Some of his developments included apartments along the Swan River and Lesmurdie Heights.

Bond Corporation Holdings Ltd
  • Progress Development Organisation (1959-1968),
  • West Australia Land Holdings, Limited (1969-1974)[6]
  • Australian Securities Exchange
  • ASX: BCH
  • New Zealand Exchange
  • NZX: BON
IndustryReal estate, brewing, media, and natural resources
Founded1959 (1959) as Progress Development Organization
FounderAlan Bond
Defunct1991 (1991)
SuccessorSouthern Equities Corporation Limited[7]
Areas served
Australia, United States, Chile, Hong Kong, and Europe
Lippo Centre in Admiralty, Hong Kong Island, 1988; bought from Alan Bond

In his heyday the Perth-based Bond was one of Australia's most prominent businesspeople. He extended his business interests into fields outside property development including brewing (he controlled Castlemaine Tooheys in Australia,[8] leading the business to legal success in the landmark constitutional law case of Castlemaine Tooheys Ltd v South Australia,[9] and G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, US[10]), gold mining,[11] television,[12] and airships.[13] Australia's first private university, Bond University, was founded by the Bond Corporation in 1987.[14] He purchased QTQ-9 Brisbane and settled an outstanding defamation dispute the station had with the Queensland premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen by paying out A$400,000. He said in a television interview several years later that he paid because "Sir Joh left no doubt that if we were going to continue to do business successfully in Queensland then he expected the matter to be resolved".[15]

In 1987, Bond purchased Vincent van Gogh's renowned painting Irises for $54 million—the highest price ever paid for a single painting at the time. However, the purchase was funded by a substantial loan from the auctioneer Sotheby's, which Bond failed to repay.[16] The transaction was criticised by art dealers as possibly a manipulated sale designed to artificially inflate values generally (which it seems to have done).[17] The painting was subsequently re-sold in 1990 to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.[18]

That same year, Bond also organised the establishment of the Bond Centre in Hong Kong, which was located in a twin tower skyscraper complex. The property was later bought by the Lippo Group of Indonesia, and is now known as the Lippo Centre.[19]

The America's Cup

Bond became a public hero in his adopted country when he bankrolled challenges for the America's Cup, which resulted in his selection in 1978 as Australian of the Year[20] (awarded jointly with Galarrwuy Yunupingu). His Australia II syndicate won the 1983 America's Cup, which had been held by the New York Yacht Club since 1851, thus breaking the longest winning streak in the history of sport. That victory, widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest international sporting achievements, resulted in Bond's receipt of the Order of Australia, in the grade of Officer.

Purchasing the Nine Network

In 1987, Bond paid $1 billion to purchase the Australia-wide Channel Nine television network from Kerry Packer's PBL. In a 2003 interview with Andrew Denton, Bond described the negotiations as follows:

...when we first sat down, we said, 'We're either going to sell our stations to you for $400 million, or you're going to sell your stations to us.' And [Kerry Packer] said, 'Well, I don't really want to sell my stations.' And I said, 'Oh, is that right?' So, anyway, after much discussion, Kerry thumped the table and said, 'Listen, if you can pay me $1 billion, I'll sell them to you, otherwise bugger off'. ... [T]hen I rang the National Australia Bank. I said, 'Look, I'm in discussions here to buy these television stations. Kerry will sell to me, and what I want to do is put our stations together and then, with Sky Channel, I'm going to float it off as a separate entity and raise the capital to pay for it... [Packer] said $1 billion [was his asking price], but I think I'll get it for $800 million.' ... [The bank manager] duly rang back and said yes. I said, 'Thank God. I'll go and have some further negotiations with Kerry,' which I did. And true to his word, he never budged one penny off it. So I settled the deal with $800 million and a $200 million note. So he put his own $200 million in. So I had $1 billion. And we put our other two stations up as collateral, which were worth probably $400 million.[21]

In fact, the agreed price was $1.05 billion. Packer took $800 million in cash and $250 million in subordinated debt in Bond Media. When Bond went bankrupt, Packer was able to turn the debt into a 37% equity in Bond Media, which now included Channel 9 in Brisbane, and was worth about $500 million. It was valued at $1 billion, but had $500 million in debt on the books. Packer was quoted as saying "You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime, and I've had mine".[21]

Bankruptcy and conviction for fraud

In 1992, Bond was declared bankrupt after failing to repay a $194 million personal guarantee on a loan for a nickel-mining project. His debts reportedly totalled $1.8 billion at the time.[22] He feigned brain damage to avoid answering questions during bankruptcy trials, a charade he saw no need to keep up afterwards.[23] He was forced to sell Glympton Park in England.

In 1995, his family bought him out of bankruptcy, with creditors accepting a payment of A$12 million, a little over half a cent per dollar.[24]

In 1997, Bond was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to using his controlling interest in Bell Resources to deceptively siphon off A$1.2 billion into the coffers of the Bond Corporation. The funds were used to shore up the cash resources of the ailing Bond Corporation, which spectacularly collapsed, leaving Bell Resources in a precarious and uncertain position.[25][26] He was stripped of his 1984 honour as an Officer of the Order of Australia.[27]

Bond was released from Karnet Prison Farm in 2000, having served four years in various Western Australian prisons.[28]

Return to investment activities

Following release, he became active in various mining investments, predominately in Africa, including Madagascar Oil PLC and Global Diamond Resources, of Lesotho and was included in Business Review Weekly's "Rich 200 List" in 2008.

In 2003, Bond was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame.[29] Since 2003, Bond had worked closely with his son Craig and longtime business partner Robert Quinn through Strategic Investments Ltd.[30][31]

Interests related to the Bond family also control Global Diamond Resources plc (formerly Lesotho Diamond Corporation) which is developing the Kao diamond pipe in the Kingdom of Lesotho. In 2007, the Federal Court rejected an attempt by Bond to sue freelance journalist Paul Barry over an article Barry wrote about his dealings in Africa with the Lesotho Diamond Company.[32] Bond had claimed that the article had several false statements. In 2008 Bond appealed but this, too, was rejected by the same court which found Bond's claims had no reasonable prospects of success.[33]

Bond was involved in a long-running defamation case against The West Australian newspaper and journalists Mark Drummond and Sean Cowan over a series of articles published in December 2005, in which it was alleged that Bond's friend and business partner Robert Leslie Nelson was moving to hide Bond's involvement in Lesotho Diamond Corporation, Madagascar Oil and a gold company.[34] During that case, Bond tried to have the journalists convicted of contempt of court after some electronic documents disappeared.[35]

In 2008, Bond made a return to the Business Review Weekly's "Rich 200 List", in 157th spot, with an estimated wealth of $265 million—thanks primarily to his stakes in Madagascar Oil and Global Diamond Resources.[36]


In 1955, Bond married Eileen Hughes, a member of a prominent Catholic family in Fremantle (she is a cousin of car dealer John Hughes). She and Bond were both 17, and she was pregnant at the time. Bond, who had been raised Protestant, converted to Catholicism for the marriage.[1] The couple had four children: John, Craig, Susanne and Jody. Bond and Eileen divorced in 1992.[37] Susanne, an equestrian showjumper who had been a member of the Australian showjumping team for seven years, died in 2000 from a suspected accidental overdose of prescription medication.[38]

Bond married Diana Bliss, a public relations consultant and theatre producer, in 1995.[39] On 28 January 2012, Bliss was found dead in the couple's swimming pool. Police said the circumstances of her death were not suspicious[40] and concluded that Bliss, a long-time sufferer of depression, had committed suicide.[41]

Illness and death

On 2 June 2015, Bond underwent open-heart surgery at a private hospital in Perth to replace and repair his heart valves. Following complications, he was transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth[42][43] and placed on life support in an induced coma.[44] He died on the morning of 5 June 2015.[45]

John Wood portrayed Bond in the miniseries The Challenge (1986), which depicted Australia's famous victory of the 1983 America's Cup.

In the Australian TV miniseries Killing Time (2011), he was again played by John Wood.

The Australian TV miniseries House of Bond (2017) is a heavily fictionalised account of Bond's life.[46] Bond was portrayed by Ben Mingay. It was aired on the Nine Network on 24–25 April 2017.

In real life, Bond was represented by criminal lawyer Andrew Fraser, notable for representing Australian underworld figures and other unsavoury elements. Fraser himself would later become imprisoned.[47]

Projects and developments

Observation City, Scarborough
Yanchep Sun City
9 Parker Street, South Perth
Lesmurdie Heights, Lesmurdie
South32 Tower (formerly known as the Bankwest Tower, the Bond Tower and the R&I Tower)
Bunbury Tower
Kalgoorlie Super Pit
Bond University in Queensland
Bond Centre in Hong Kong (now known as the Lippo Tower)


  1. Tovey, Josephine (5 June 2015). "Obituary: Alan Bond, 1938–2015". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  2. "Alan Bond, entrepreneur and businessman". 2007. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  3. Barry, Paul (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond dead: Paul Barry's account of a man who tricked Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  4. Paul Barry, The Rise and Fall of Alan Bond ABC/Bantam, Sydney 1990 p. 34
  5. Paul Barry, The Rise and Fall of Alan Bond ABC/Bantam, Sydney 1990 pp. 33-4
  6. "History of Bond Corporation Holdings Limited – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  7. "BOND CORPORATION HOLDINGS LIMITED BCH - Profile and Status". Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  8. Kirkegaard, Matt (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond and Bernie Powers: Beer in the '80s". Australian Brews News. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  9. Castlemaine Tooheys Ltd v South Australia [1990] HCA 1, (1990) 169 CLR 436 (7 February 1990), High Court.
  10. Kish, Jeff (6 June 2015). "Former Heileman's owner Alan Bond dies". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  11. "Alan Bond: 10 things you need to know about the controversial tycoon". ABC News. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  12. Verrender, Ian (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond: Australia's weak spot for the man behind the biggest heist in history". ABC News. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  13. "Fraudster and America's Cup legend Alan Bond dies". Business Insider. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  14. "Bond University mourns the passing of Mr Alan Bond". Bond University, 5 June 2015
  15. Schultz, Julianne (1998). Reviving the Fourth Estate: Democracy, Accountability and the Media. Cambridge University Press. p. 104.
  16. According to an investigation by Jean-Pierre Thiollet published in Le Quotidien de Paris of 19 October 1989.
  17. Reif, Rita A $27 Million Loan by Sotheby's Helped Alan Bond to Buy 'Irises' New York Times, 18 October 1989
  18. Irises, image Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the J. Paul Getty Museum
  19. Bond Centre at Library of Congress
  20. Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
  21. Alan Bond interview transcript Archived 8 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine from Enough Rope, ABC TV interview with Andrew Denton, 3 November 2003
  22. "Alan Bond Is Declared Bankrupt in Australia". The New York Times. 15 April 1992. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  23. Sally Loane, 'White Collar Criminals Suffer a Bad Case of Jailbouse Blues' Sydney Morning Herald 11 December 2000, p. 24
  24. Abrams, Amah-Rose (8 June 2015). "Australian Tycoon Alan Bond, Who Bought Vincent van Gogh's Irises for Record $54 Million in 1987, Is Dead at 77". ArtNet News. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  25. Head, Mike (11 March 2000). "Australian businessman Alan Bond walks free from jail". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  26. Sprague, Julie-anne (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond dead: Bond Corp's demise left bad taste in the West". Financial Review. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  27. Mickelburough, Peter "Social leaders stripped of honours after falling from grace", Herald Sun, 6 June 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2014
  28. "Alan Bond released from prison". BBC News. 9 March 2000. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  29. Gladwell, Richard (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond—America's Cup Hero remembered by Longley and Simmer". Sail World. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  30. Mottram, Linda; Daniel, Zoe (20 March 2002). "Bond's latest venture in liquidation". AM on ABC Local Radio. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  31. Reece, Damian & Mary Fagan, Bond on comeback trail The Telegraph (UK), 17 September 2000.
  32. Court dismisses case against journalist Paul Barry ABC News, 22 September 2007
  33. Bond loses Federal Court appeal, ABC News, 23 June 2008
  34. Bond v West Australian Newspapers Ltd /121.html [2008 ] WASC 121 (25 June 2008), Supreme Court (WA).
  35. Gosch, Elizabeth (21 October 2009). "The West Australian newspaper 'erased documents'". Nationwide News Pty Limited.
  36. "Rich surprise: Alan Bond bounces back". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 May 2008. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  37. Wilson, Caroline (11 April 1992). "Why Alan Bond Split With Eileen". The Sun Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  38. Lowth, Adrienne (7 July 2000). "Coronial inquiry launched into the death of Alan Bond's daughter". Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  39. "People in the News". The Argus-Press. 16 April 1995. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  40. "Police confirm Alan Bond's wife dead". 29 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  41. "Diana Bliss leaves a last sad farewell note to Alan Bond". Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  42. Leanne Nicholson (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond dead: 'All efforts were made', says Fiona Stanley Hospital". WA Today. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  43. Kate Campbell (5 June 2015). "Alan Bond dead: Larger-than-life businessman loses fight after heart surgery". PerthNow. The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 7 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  44. "Alan Bond continues to fight for life in Perth hospital after heart surgery complications". ABC News. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  45. "Alan Bond dies in Perth hospital after heart surgery complications" (5 June 2015), ABC News. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  46. "The name's Bond, Alan Bond". 10 May 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  47. "Andrew Fraser - Author - Motivational Speaker - ex Lawyer". Speakers Solutions. Retrieved 25 October 2022.

Further reading

  • Barry, Paul (1991). The Rise And Fall Of Alan Bond. Bantam Books. ISBN 1-86359-037-4.
  • Barry, Paul (2001). Going for Broke. Bantam Books. ISBN 1-86325-197-9.
  • Bond, Alan; Mundle, Rob (2004). Bond (autobiography). HarperCollins. ISBN 0-7322-7494-X.
  • Maher, Terence (1990). BOND: The Business Career of Alan Bond. William Heinemann Australia. ISBN 0-85561-336-X.
  • McMahon, Neil (5 June 2015). "The difficult reckoning of Alan Bond's legacy". The Drum. ABC Television.
  • Sykes, Trevor (1994). The Bold Riders: Behind Australia's Corporate Collapses. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-702-2.
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