Controversial Australian businessman Geoffrey Edelsten has died aged 78 in Melbourne.
- Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious
- Mr Edelsten was a colourful fixture of Melbourne’s social scene
- He was well known as the former owner of the Sydney Swans AFL team and for his numerous relationships with younger women
Mr Edelsten was the former owner of the Sydney Swans football club and a number of 24-hour GP superclinics and was a high-profile figure in the 1980s known for a flamboyant lifestyle.
He died on Friday afternoon at his apartment on St Kilda Road.
Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and will prepare a report for the coroner.
Born in Carlton to Jewish migrant parents, Mr Edelsten studied at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1966.
After working as a resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital he became a GP and, with a colleague, established a practice in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
His open-all-hours medical clinics featured grand pianos and chandeliers in the waiting rooms. Patients, who were bulk-billed, flocked to the clinics.
Mr Edelsten was struck off the NSW medical register in 1988 for over-billing. He was later jailed for paying a hitman to assault a former patient.
Swans’ saviour, Edelsten stayed in the spotlight despite bankruptcy
Edelsten became, by his own description, a “white knight” of the Swans in 1985 as they faced dire financial pressure and concerns they couldn’t survive.
Two-time Brownlow medallist Greg Williams was one of the Swans’ star players when Mr Edelsten owned the club.
He said he owed a lot to Mr Edelsten.
“He was a great guy with a great heart and he loved the Swans, even though he barracked for Carlton,” Williams told Melbourne’s 3AW.
“He loved football and he couldn’t have looked after me any better than he did.
“I loved Dr Edelsten. [For] all the blokes who played for the Swans, I’m sure there’s great memories there.”
Edelsten claimed bankruptcy in both Australia and the United States in 2014, citing a number of bad business deals including “splurging” millions on ghetto housing estates going cheap during the US mortgage crisis.
Even when his controversial career seemed to crash and burn, Edelsten always seemed to find a way back.
A colourful fixture of Melbourne’s social scene, his unconventional lifestyle demanded attention.
He owned mansions, helicopters and a fleet of expensive cars with licence plates emblazoned with “Macho”, “Spunky” and “Sexy”.
His relationships with younger women helped keep him in the media spotlight.
He divorced his first wife, model Leanne Nesbitt, in 1988 after a three-year marriage, then married American fitness instructor Brynne Gordon in 2009 when she was 40 years his junior.
Again the nuptials didn’t last, with Ms Brynne calling it off after four years.
Less than a year later he proposed to American model Gabi Grecko, 46 years his junior, at the Melbourne Cup.
Mr Edelsten got down on one knee dressed in his brashest yellow suit before the waiting media.
She’d already proposed to him months earlier, but he wanted to make it official.
Their relationship ended not long after, with claims of infidelity on Mr Edelsten’s behalf and a range of public spats.