Alan Bond, Australian businessman and sailing figure, dead at 77
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Alan Bond, the flamboyant Australian businessman who funded the country's historic 1983 America's Cup victory before losing his fortune and his freedom, died on Friday.
The 77-year-old Bond had been in intensive care in a hospital in the city of Perth following a triple-bypass operation on Tuesday and never regained consciousness, according to his family.
"To a lot of people, dad was a larger than life character who started with nothing and did so much," his son Craig, one of three children, told reporters outside the hospital. "He really did experience the highs and lows of life."
Bond achieved international acclaim for helping to bankroll the winning yacht, Australia II, in its upset victory in the 1983 America's Cup, handing the New York Yacht Club its first ever loss in its 132-year history in the contest.
Born in Britain in 1938, Bond sailed with his parents to the port town of Fremantle in Western Australia in 1950, leaving school at 15 to become an apprentice signwriter.
But after marrying the daughter of a prominent businessman and politician at 18, Bond plunged into the construction and real estate businesses, becoming a millionaire at 21.
A string of audacious deals in gold, oil, property, brewing and television followed, making him one of the country's best known businessmen.
In 1987 Bond, an avid collector of Impressionist paintings, secretly bought Vincent van Gogh's Irises" for a world record $49 million to hang in his luxurious Perth penthouse office.
He also bought a country estate containing a whole village in Britain, an island off Western Australia and a number of expensive yachts. Continued...