If Alan Bond can die, then anyone can, even me. He was larger than his own life and if he couldn't outlive himself, what hope is there for the rest of us? Alan Bond is Australia: born in England, raised in Perth, married a Catholic, broke the bank, went broke, went to jail and reinvented himself as a big wheeler dealer. If Hawkie was still prime minister there would be an extra holiday this Queen's Birthday weekend.
Everybody has a Bondy story, but I never met him. My ex-wife was accosted by him as a babysitter for the family in Perth, but I never met him. A very good friend was his private adjunct d'affaires, but I never met him. A date once told me she worked on his yacht for a year and part of her duties was to have Lawrence of Arabia in the video player ready to play every night, but I never met him. Before Bond, we only had dreamtime and wet dreams. He gave us the big dream, that every single signwriter could buy a property or two and build an empire from nothing but bold bulldust and brilliance. I may not remember the day he died but we will always remember where we were when Bondy won the America's Cup. Success bought Bliss, his second wife, Diana Bliss – who I did meet – but nothing lasts forever and she took her own life before it took her. Bond lost his daughter to an accidental overdose and tragedy and triumph followed him all the days of his life.
Bond was our most famous pirate who left a bounty for his adopted country. Bond University is the new crucible for budding entrepreneurs. The Packer fortune was built on Bondy's back when he bought Channel Nine from them and they later bought it back. The word "up streaming" entered the lexicon when Bond Corporate borrowed $1.2 billion off Bell Resources and left an IOU in the jar. He was so full of life that it took a team of doctors to kill him. He was Australia's Napoleon, with his left hand in our pockets. He was a little man with the belly of a beast. Paul Barry made a small fortune writing about the extraordinary things Bondy did on his way up and down. Australia is forever in his debt, which is just as well as we can never pay it back.
The little Aussie battler will always be remembered for the deeds he continually used as collateral to build, borrow and steal his way to the top. He took his bruises in a way Christopher Skase couldn't. He was a boxing kangaroo, fighting on its tail, tacking the mainsail, and winking at the camera when he got away with it all. He was our own Gordon Gekko and he looked more like a gecko than he did Michael Douglas.
"Greed is, for lack of a better word, is good, greed is right, greed works, greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the evolutionary spirit." Bondy wrote this script as a signwriter way before Wall Street.
He was bold as brass and not First Class. He stuck in the throat of Macquarie Street until he lubricated lawyers with liquid money and made beggars out of bankers for his loans. He was never handicapped by the truth or bothered by the misleading detail. He winged his way into the sky until he ran out of feathers but not before leaving a nest for his children. They bought him back from bankruptcy for half a cent in the dollar for every dollar lent and spent. We never heard him groan or growl about his bad luck, he took his burdens to the grave. He was both loud-mouthed and quietly spoken, he laughed with us but cried alone. His four-year prison sentence is a good argument for punishment as an instrument of memory retrieval, as on his release he appeared to have the memory of an elephant – and the ears as well. He bounced back into the Rich 200 list by 2008 and must have left quite an estate. He was not above being swindled himself.
There must be something in the West Australian water that allowed the great swindler Bond to be gypped by a couple of local upstarts who sold him the Yellow Rose of Texas gold nugget for over twice its worth and which was found to be manufactured, manufactured not found. The Mickelberg brothers and the aptly-named Brian Pozzi were charged with hoodwinking the great winker and Raymond Mickelberg and Brian Pozzi pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 1984. The brothers had earlier been charged with writing dud cheques for gold bullion from the Perth Mint, they were convicted by false confessions and forged fingerprints, the copper Don Hancock was later blown up by a gypsy joker in revenge for the murder of a friend. Another copper, Tony Lewandowski, rolled over on Hancock and have evidence that police had corruptly taken statements from the Mickelbergs. Only in Perth would Lewandowski be charged with perverting the course of justice, making false statements, fabricating evidence and perjury and he apparently took his own life before trial.
The brothers were acquitted after seven appeals and amazingly got nearly $700,000 to pay for their lawyers – in Perth that's a win-win. In the first telemovie of the great gold swindle, Brian Mickelberg is played by the now jailed paedophile Robert Hughes. In 1989, 55 kilograms of gold pellets were found outside Channel Seven, Perth, with an anonymous note protesting the Mickelbergs' innocence and pointing the finger at another Perth businessman. Everything is bigger in Western Australia, as Gina Rinehart is living testament. The other Robert Hughes, the great one, described it in The Fatal Shore as a "colony with a body the size of Europe and the brain of an infant". The Great State wasn't kind to him, when he ran into a car of drug dealers on the wrong side of the road, broke his back and was then fined. Bond and Bob would never have got along.