Bunhill: Bond tries to be artless

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THE ART collection of the Australian entrepreneur Alan Bond, once one of his country's richest men and greatest hero after winning the America's Cup yachting trophy, comes up for sale at Christie's in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Owned by the receivers of Dallhold group, Bond's privately owned company, the 60 mainly Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and sculptures are likely to bring in around pounds 3m - a mere drop in the ocean compared with the estimated pounds 400-pounds 500m owed by the company. Bond himself will miss the sale as he is unavoidably detained, serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for dishonesty.

Bond's demise followed his USdollars 300m investment in a nickel mine and a refinery in Queensland which went wrong. Until then his flourishing group had included investments in newspapers, gold mines, television and Castlemaine lager.

Several other paintings once held by Dallhold will be sold by private treaty, or, in the case of a Renoir painting, Femme a la Guitare, at auction in London.

The decision to use Christie's is not insignificant. In October 1987 Bond bought Van Gogh's Irises at the arch-rival Sotheby's in New York for pounds 30.2m. The sale came in a blaze of publicity following the stock market crash and helped to steady a very jittery market.

A year later it was revealed that Bond had been loaned half the purchase price by Sotheby's itself.

The glorious painting was put back on the market and eventually sold for the reduced figure of pounds 25m to the Getty Museum at Long Beach, California. Bond, needless to say, didn't give a XXXX.

(Photograph omitted)