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April 16 - 22, 2010
3The Independent Weekly
In 2009, the Deagues started
building six hotels in the inner
suburbs of Melbourne, named after
and featuring the work of eminent
Australian artists. Some of the art
displayed in the hotels comes from
the family s private collection.
David Deague has been collecting
art for 30 years and in 2001 spent
more than $1 million taking 10
artists to paint in South Australia s
iconic outback town of William
Creek. John Olsen and David
Larwill were among the painters
and will have Art Series hotels
named after them.
The first Melbourne hotel, The
Cullen, named after Archibald
Prize winner Adam Cullen, opened
in Melbourne s fashionable
Prahran in December.
Will Deague said the Walkerville
development would be part-
residential and part-hotel.
"There will be 300 residential
apartments and then there s the
100-room, boutique five-star Art
Series Hotel," the younger Deague
"There will also be tennis courts
and a gymnasium on the western
side of the development.
"We ll be adding two storeys but
not going any higher than the air-
conditioning plant on the current
roof. We ll also have to dig down to
accommodate the development s
car parking requirements.
"We hope to get all the approvals
in place and start construction by
February or March 2011."
But Walkerville Council might
be a bit nervous about the prospect
of another massive hole when the
adjacent hole is still undeveloped.
The proposed Holcon develop-
ment of Walkerville s town
centre hit a snag when the State
Government backed down from
a commitment to sell off the
northern carpark on Walkerville
Terrace, behind the Department
of Transport building. The matter
ended up in the Supreme Court, the
parties settled and the Government
then handed over its carpark while
upgrading the southern carpark.
Shortly after, the State
Government sold the building.
Full details of the various
settlements and sales have never
been released. The council was kept
in the dark about who bought the
building, with State Infrastructure
Minister Pat Conlon refusing to
reveal the name of the purchaser
until June this year for reasons of
"I doubt if they got much for it,"
Walkerville Mayor David Whiting
"They were touting $30 million,
but the asbestos in the building and
the fact it hasn t got a basement due
to groundwater issues put it in a
different price bracket, in our view.
We offered them $10 million."
Finally, last week, the Deagues
revealed themselves as the purchas-
ers and asked to meet Walkerville
From page 1
Hotel plan for Walkerville
Deague family patriarch David
Deague has been to the brink
of bankruptcy and back, has
been hailed as art s white knight
and demonised as Demolition Dave
and the Arthur Daly of the building
He arrives in Adelaide today
to pitch a more than $100 million
development that will change
the dynamic and demographic
of Adelaide s oldest suburb,
So who is David Deague?
A builder and property developer,
he is a descendant of WH Deague,
who arrived in Melbourne in 1867
and started business as a builder.
David followed the family trend
and was at one time rubbing
shoulders with Melbourne s big
names, including Ron Walker and
But it all went sour in the early
90s when his business owed $52.5
million to a string of creditors,
including companies associated
with the aforementioned Williams
Then, in September 1995,
Mr Deague crossed the path of
Melbourne s old money set when
his company demolished a wing of
an historic mansion.
Victoria s then deputy Opposition
leader, John Thwaites, weighed in,
telling parliament: "The developer
is known as the Arthur Daly of the
Mr Thwaites added: "Mr
Deague is also famous for illegally
bulldozing the historic Portsea
mansion Ilyuka. At the same time
he excavated the cliff frontage and
set trees on fire."
And he had plenty more to tell
parliament in his outburst on
April 14, 1999.
Quoting newspaper reports
from the time, he detailed how the
Deague family company, Asian
Pacific Building Corporation,
had created a stink at Victoria s
playground for the wealthy, Portsea.
"A wing of the (31-room mansion)
was demolished, trees uprooted
and areas of the 91m cliff frontage
excavated, damaging 130-year-old
lime kilns on the foreshore below,"
Mr Thwaites said.
"The developer, Asian Pacific
Building Corporation, completed
the work despite not having title
to the Point King Road property, or
seeking permission from authori-
Thwaites continued his expose:
"The illegal work was stopped when
the Historic Buildings Council
presented an interim preservation
order to Mr David Deague, a Toorak
developer employed as a master
builder by the company.
"The case ended up in the
Supreme Court -- the only way the
excavation and demolition was
stopped was by Supreme Court
Mr Thwaites then informed par-
liament he had searched company
records relating to Bankruptcy Act
proceedings against the company.
"In May 1995, Mr Deague filed
under part X of the Bankruptcy
Act, disclosing sole and joint debts
totalling $52.5 million. Included
among the creditors is a company
known as Vania, which operates
out of the Hudson Conway office
and counts Lloyd Williams and Ron
Walker among its directors.
"Mr Deague proposed a deal. He
authorised his accountant to call a
meeting of creditors and proposed a
payment of $450,000 in full and final
settlement of the debts. Apparently
a deal was made and people were
paid an amount.
"But millions of dollars went
missing, and they are still owing."
The parliamentary tirade was
enough to push David Deague out
of the limelight, but it would not be
Just two years later, the art-loving
Deague pulled one of the greatest
stunts art circles had ever seen. He
hired a plane and flew with his wife,
Kristene, and four children to South
Australia s iconic outback town of
William Creek, population 10.
Waiting for him on the tarmac
were 10 hand-picked artists, includ-
ing Rodney Poplle, John Olsen,
Building a reputation: Who are the Deagues?
Earmarked for development: The 1960s building on Walkerville Terrace.
Photo: Kate Elmes
Continued page 4
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