Born in London and raised in Australia from the age of 12, Bond began his career as a signwriter and formed what became the Bond Corporation in 1959. He became a public hero in his adopted country after bankrolling challenges for the America's Cup, which resulted in his selection in 1978 as Australian of the Year (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.
In 1992, Bond was declared bankrupt with personal debts totalling A$1.8 billion. He was subsequently convicted of fraud and imprisoned after pleading guilty to using his controlling interest in Bell Resources to deceptively siphon off A$1.2 billion into the coffers of 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 situation.
Following release, he became active in various mining investments, predominately in Africa, including Madagascar Oil PLC and Global Diamond Resources, and was included in Business Review Weekly's "Rich 200 List" in 2008.
On 24 and 25 April 2017, the Nine Network aired a heavily fictionalised TV mini-series, House of Bond, based on Bond's rise and fall.
Alan Bond was born on 22 April 1938, the son of Frank and Kathleen Bond in the Hammersmith district of London, England. In 1950, aged 12, he emigrated to Australia with his parents and his older sister Geraldine, living in Fremantle, near Perth. At age 14, he was charged with stealing and being unlawfully on premises. At age 18, he was arrested for being unlawfully on premises and reportedly admitted planning a robbery.
The Perth-based Bond made his fortune initially in property development and at one time was one of Australia's most prominent businesspeople. In 1970 he bought three America's Cup challenge yachts from Sir Frank Packer. He later extended his business interests into other fields including brewing (he controlled Castlemaine Tooheys in Australia, leading the business to legal success in the landmark constitutional law case of Castlemaine Tooheys Ltd v South Australia, and G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA), gold mining, television, and airships. In 1987, Australia's first private university, Bond University was founded by Bond Corporation. 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".
In 1987, Bond purchased Vincent van Gogh's renowned painting, Irises, for $54 million—the highest price ever paid for a single painting. However, the purchase was funded by a substantial loan from the auctioneer, Sotheby's, which Bond failed to repay. The transaction was criticised by art dealers as possibly a manipulated sale designed to artificially inflate values generally (which it seems to have done). The painting was subsequently re-sold in 1990 to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Also in 1987, he built and developed the Bond Centre in Hong Kong. It was later bought by the Lippo Group of Indonesia and is now known as the Lippo Centre, Hong Kong.
In 1987, Bond paid $1 billion for 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."
In fact, the agreed price was $1.05 billion. Packer took $800 million in cash and $250 million in subordinated debt in Bond Media. Once 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. Still, Packer was quoted as saying "You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime, and I've had mine".
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. 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. 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 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 situation.
At this time, Bond was stripped of his 1984 honour as an Officer of the Order of Australia. He was released from Karnet Prison Farm in 2000, having served four years in various West Australian prisons.
In 2003, Bond was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame. Since 2003, Bond had worked closely with his son Craig and long-time business partner Robert Quinn through Strategic Investments Ltd.
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. 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 Mr Bond's claims had no reasonable prospects of success.
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. During that case, Bond tried to have the journalists convicted of contempt of court after some electronic documents disappeared.
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.
In 1955, Bond married Eileen Hughes, a member of a prominent Catholic family in Fremantle—her cousin is 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. The couple had four children: John, Craig, Susanne and Jody. Bond and Eileen divorced in 1992. 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.
In 1995, Bond married Diana Bliss, a public relations consultant and theatre producer. On 28 January 2012, Bliss was found dead in the couple's swimming pool. Police said the circumstances of her death were not suspicious and concluded that Bliss, a longtime sufferer of depression, had committed suicide.
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 and placed on life support in an induced coma; he did not regain consciousness, and died on the morning of 5 June 2015.