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It is set to be the most significant dispersal of an Australian antique collection, but it won’t take place over a day, or even a week.
Trevor Kennedy’s 10,000-piece trove of Australiana is being prepared for sale via seven or eight auctions next year, starting with a catalogue of Australian-themed English Moorcroft pottery in Sydney in February.
The businessman and former journalist began collecting antiques as a correspondent in London in the 1960s, then when he took over as editor of TheBulletin magazine in the 1970s he developed an interest in Australiana.
For decades Trevor Kennedy reigned as one of the most influential yet enigmatic business identities in the country.
Kerry Packer's former right-hand man and a business partner of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but for all of his boardroom dealings, when it comes to his other great passion – collecting Australiana artefacts – he admits to being "a bit of a nut".
Businessman Trevor Kennedy with part of his huge collection of Australiana he is about to sell at auction.Photo: Supplied
In February the first of what is expected to be many sales of Kennedy's vast collection, conservatively estimated at $24 million though Kennedy says it is probably worth much more than that, will go under the hammer at auction house Moss Green, starting with an extensive range of Moorcroft and Australian pottery and fine porcelain, including one vase expected to fetch $40,000 alone.
With thousands more items housed in his Sydney home, South Coast getaway and a private museum he has created in a heritage building he bought at The Rocks, Kennedy told PS it was time to off-load the huge haul.
"When I was in London in the late 1960s there was a junk shop on every corner and that was what started me off ... by the time I came back to Australia to become editor of The Bulletin I became fascinated in our history and that led me to concentrate on Australiana," Kennedy explained.
Indeed there was a time when Kennedy was not so keen to discuss his assets, having fought a lengthy battle against corporate regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Taxation Office to maintain secrecy of his assets held overseas in tax havens.
He also made headlines when it emerged he was a shareholder in the the Offset Alpine printing plant in Silverwater that was destroyed by fire. The disaster delivered a blessing for the shareholders, insured by Rodney Adler's FAI, the destruction of its $3 million printing plant resulted in a $53 million payout.
But these days it is Kennedy's obsessive collecting which weighs heavily on his mind.
"I'm nearly 75 and I don't want to leave this for someone else to do after I'm gone ... it's my passion. I was hoping that an institution would buy it as an entire collection," Kennedy said, however previous negotiations with the National Museum of Australia were unfruitful.