Celebrated for his swaggering entrepreneurial success and larrikin persona, Alan Bond became a convicted corporate criminal several times over. Raised a Protestant, he converted to Catholicism for his first marriage.
- The Sydney Morning Herald
Alan Bond, 1938-2015
Bond epitomised the "Greed is Good" era, amassing an empire during the 1970s and '80s that included resources, brewing, property, and media interests.
He became a hero after his dogged pursuit of the America's Cup culminated in the victory at his fourth attempt. The 1983 success was the first time a non-American team had won the series. As his friend and Cup-winning Australia II skipper John Bertrand said, "He doesn't know what it's like to give up".
But a spectacular unravelling in the years after the Cup victory left Bond's businesses collapsing like a house of cards. He was declared bankrupt and imprisoned for a string of offences, including the largest corporate fraud in Australian history, leaving ordinary Australians – his shareholders – bereft in his wake.
Alan Bond was born in London on April 22, 1938, to Frank and Kathleen Bond, and the working class family emigrated to Fremantle, Western Australia in 1950. As a child he is believed to have suffered a bout of rheumatic fever, which weakened his heart valves.
As court documents would reveal many decades later, the young Bond had his first brush with the law while still a teenager, appearing in a Perth court at the age of 14 on charges of stealing and unlawfully being on premises. He was arrested again at 18 on charges of being on premises and reportedly admitted to planning to rob a house.
Bond never finished high school or went to university, famously taking up an apprenticeship as signwriter at 15. But he was ambitious, reportedly studying accounting in the evenings, with dreams of business success.
In 1955, he married Eileen Hughes, whom he had met at a ballroom dancing class in Fremantle. Raised a Protestant, Bond converted to Catholicism for the marriage.
Bond made his fortune as a young property developer, where he soon displayed a relaxed attitude to truth. In one instance, as he later recalled on ABC's Enough Rope, while working on a major waterfront development in Western Australia, he had the surrounding sandhills sprayed with bitumen and green paint so they would look like rolling green hills in a brochure.
In 1967, he founded a private company and bought retail, mining and media assets. In 1969, he launched his first public company, WA Land, which was a predecessor of Bond Corporation, which by 1982 had become Western Australia's biggest company.