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Friday, June 8, 2012

Geoffrey Edelsten

Geoffrey Walter Edelsten,born 2 May 1943 is an Australian medical entrepreneur. He was the first private owner of a major Australian football team when he bought the Sydney Swans Football Club in 1985. Edelsten was formerly a general practitioner, but was deregistered in New South Wales in 1988 and also in Victoria. In 1990, Edelsten spent a year in jail for soliciting an underworld figure, Christopher Dale Flannery, to assault a former patient and for perverting the course of justice.

Edelsten was known as a flamboyant entrepreneur in the 1980s, transforming the idea of what a doctor's surgery was with chandeliers, grand pianos and 24 hour opening. He also had mink-covered examination benches, mansions and a fleet of Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis sporting number plates such as Macho, Spunky and Sexy.

In 2005, Edelsten, together with a business partner, founded Allied Medical Group, which by 2010 administered 17 medical centres and employed close to 250 general practitioners. Edelsten is not, however, a shareholder or owner of the company.

Sydney Swans

On 31 July 1985, for what was thought to be $6.3 million, Edelsten bought the Sydney Swans football club. In reality it was $2.9 million in cash, with funding and other payments spread over five years. A period of relative on-field success followed, however, success on the field was not translated to financial security, membership or a sustainable structure. Edelsten resigned as chairman after less than twelve months.

In July 1986, Edelsten attempted to buy the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rugby league team but his offer was refused by the game's administrators.His former wife, Leanne, claimed that Edelsten intended to buy the Sharks team as a present for her.

Early life

Edelsten was born in Carlton, an inner suburb of Melbourne, and attended Princes Hill Public School and, later, Mt. Scopus Memorial College, Australia's first Jewish co-educational school, where he graduated with honours in 1960. He then entered the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, which he graduated in 1966.
Music career

During the second half of the 1960s, Edelsten branched into the Melbourne music scene, his family owned the Edels record retail chain. Edelsten's company, Hit Productions, had a deal with the music publishers Festival Records.

In 1966, he claimed a co-writing credit on the songs "I can't stop loving you, baby" and "A woman of gradual decline" for the group The Last Straws, whose singles were released on Edelsten's short-lived Scope label.

In 1967, Edelsten's Hit Productions company signed the group Cam-Pact. Their first single "Something Easy"/"Michael" charted in Melbourne in early 1968.

Later in 1968, Edelsten co-produced the single "Love Machine" for the studio group Pastoral Symphony, comprising Glenn Shorrock and his band, The Twilights, Ronnie Charles of The Groop, and other musicians.

Medical career

Following his graduation in 1966, Edelsten worked as a resident medical officer at Royal Melbourne Hospital before entering general practice and working in rural and remote regions of New South Wales and Queensland, most notably the towns of Wauchope, Aramac and finally Walgett, where he bought his first private practice. He obtained a private pilot's licence in order to provide services to remote communities, often at no cost to patients as they could not afford to pay for their medical care.

In 1969, he set up a new medical practice with a colleague at the Sydney suburb of Coogee. After training an assistant doctor to perform the work at Walgett, he devoted more time to the Sydney practice, and it soon expanded to Liverpool.

In 1971, Edelsten and colleague Tom Wenkart formed Preventicare.The Sydney-based company provided diagnostic tests and computerised history-taking for doctors throughout Australia, using new equipment from the United States which could quickly and cheaply process pathology specimens.Preventicare had initially incurred debts because some of its operations were not economically sound and because of slow payment of patients' accounts, totalling far more than the company owed. In July 1971, a provisional liquidator appointed by the Equity Court would act as a temporary business manager to straighten out the company's affairs. By August 1971, General Manager of Preventicare Mr Brian Wickens said the organisation's severe cash-flow problems had been remedied and now felt it was on a sound financial footing. By 1975 (under the new name of Morlea Pathology Services) its annual profits were reportedly $2.5 million to $3 million. Macquarie Professional Services is the successor to Preventicare Pty Ltd. During this time, Edelsten and his colleagues had established eight practices in the Sydney area, and performed obstetrics at three western Sydney hospitals. After three years resident in Los Angeles, California, where he worked in essentially similar fields and endeavours, Edelsten returned to Australia in 1978, resuming his general practice, surgical and obstetric commitments.

From February 1984 onwards, following the establishment of Medicare by the Hawke government, Edelsten became famous for running multi-disciplinary, 24-hour medical centres that featured chandeliers and white grand pianos. His clinics were innovative and the forerunners of corporate medical practices, and were the first in Australia to bulk-bill patients to Medicare so they incurred no direct cost. Within four months, the first clinic was seeing 2,000 patients a week. Edelsten's empire grew to thirteen medical centres, with around 200 doctors seeing more than 20,000 patients each week.

Personal life

He met and married his first wife Leanne Nesbitt when she was a 19-year-old model, and he was associated in the public mind with pink cars and a pink helicopter (although Leanne insisted in later interviews it was blue and white) as well as buying a football team.

In January 2009, Edelsten announced his intention to marry Brynne Gordon, at the time a 25-year-old fitness instructor from California.

The Edelsten-Gordon wedding was held on Sunday, 29 November 2009 in Melbourne, Australia at the Crown Casino. Alleged to have cost approximately $3 million, it featured a helicopter, Bentley, 550 guests, circus performers, Tom Burlinson and other headline acts. Invitees were sent a pre-wedding DVD about Edelsten and Gordon. The DVD featured narration by actor Jason Alexander, who also gave an address at the wedding. Fran Drescher from The Nanny also attended. Neither Alexander nor Drescher had met the couple before, but were nonetheless paid by Edelsten to appear. Brynne Edelsten subsequently appeared in Series 11 of Dancing with the Stars. She was eliminated on 12 June 2011.

In June 2012, thieves stole luxury cars worth more than $1.4 million from Edelsten. Among them was a Lamborghini Aventador, one of only a handful in Australia, worth about $800,000.
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