Sunday 29 January 2012

Alan Bond's life again in turmoil

Alan Bond's tower of strength Diana Bliss found dead


Tragic: Alan Bond and Di Bliss, who was found dead yesterday. Picture: Alf Sorbello Source: The Sunday Telegraph

Diana Bliss, the troubled wife of former tycoon Alan Bond, has been found dead in her backyard pool in Perth.

Her quiet, determined personality may have been chalk to Eileen Bond's cheese, but Di Bliss was considered the high-flier's tower of strength during his tumultuous, topsy-turvy business career.

Bliss, 57, was discovered at the luxury two-storey Hawkstone St property in the Perth beachside suburb of Cottesloe she shared with Bond after a man telephoned St John Ambulance about 11.30am (WST) yesterday.

Alan Bond could not have found a partner so different to the woman known as "Big Red",  the effervescent Eileen, who was so much a part of the raucous Perth social scene during the heady days of the 1980s, when Moet Chandon was taken with breakfast and the likes of Laurie Connell and Brian Burke pulled the business and political strings in what the rest of Australia called the wild west.

In fact, when she arrived on Bond's arm after the pair were married in 1995, the "Perthonalities " who made up the WA social elite really didn't know what to make of her.
 Here was a woman of culture, a theatre producer who had worked in London, a girl from out of town New South Wales who had snared the man both loved and loathed, ridiculed and revered, by both the Australian public and the media.

And while Bond made sure she stayed at an arm's length from the media, she protected him as well she could from an aggressive media both felt had turned on them, particularly after Bond's stint in Karnett prison farm on the outskirts of Perth after the biggest corporate collapse in Australia's history.

 When I interviewed Bond in Cowes in 2000, when the victorious crew of Australia 11 reunited on the Isle of Wight to celebrate to 150th anniversary of the staging of the first America's Cup, she sat right next to him on a wooden bench, nudging him and instructing him on what she thought were appropriate or inappropriate questions.

Bond wanted to talk sailing, while I wanted to talk anything but, and her body language was aggressively, politely protective toward the man 16 years her senior. And an hour later when they both walked along the finger jetty to join the celebrating crew aboard Black Swan, Warren Jones's motor yacht and official tender for the yacht both back in 1983 and at Cowes, it was Bliss, not Bond, who quietly but forcefully pushed through the crowd of onlookers to make sure that her husband – the driving force behind what many still consider Australia's greatest sporting achievement – to get aboard and felt comfortable among the legendary sailors, some of whom were clearly embarrassed to be seen with the fallen tycoon who had made them famous.

For the past 15 years, Di Bliss has been by her husband's side both in Perth and in London. Bond's fall from grace is well documented, but friends say she never once lost faith in her husband's ability to bounce back. She was a constant visitor throughout his four year stint behind bars, and met him at the front gate of Karnett when he was released in 2000.
Their love apparently blossomed in the 1980s when Red and Bond were at the height of their influence. Ms Bliss is believed to have got on very well with Bond's later mother, Kathleen. It was once reported that Bliss inherited Kathleen's intimate jewellry.

"She was a terrific lady, and was just what Alan needed at the time, I suspect"," said one close friend who refused to be identified. "She stuck with him through thick and thin, and I think a lot of people admired her for that. Living with Alan would not have been easy."

Another prominent Perth socialite said that Ms Bliss had been suffering depression for some years, and had been admitted to a private clinic in London last year. It is not known if she was admitted to any clinic in Perth recently.

But it was Perth where the pair decided to finally pull up stumps. While Bond was still keen to return to London for various business engagements over the summer, it is believed they both had decided to spend more time in the west.

While full details will emerge over the next few days, early reports say Bond found her floating in the backyard pool and tried desperately to resuscitate her. This has yet to be confirmed, as it is not known if Bond is in the country. An autopsy is expected to be carried out within days.

Police last night released a statement saying there were no suspicious circumstances.
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