High-profile Melbourne businessman Harold Mitchell dead at 81

Harold Mitchell, a high-profile Australian media buyer and founder of Mitchell & Partners, has died at age 81.

He passed away on Saturday due to complications following knee surgery.

Mr Mitchell was recognised as a major figure in the Australian media, business, and philanthropic sectors.

Eddie McGuire, Bill Guest, and Kerry Stokes have paid tribute to the entrepreneur, applauding his contributions to the Australian community.

He also served as the chairman of The Florey Institute, contributing to brain research.

He was celebrated for his support of Australian and Aboriginal culture, including promoting Indigenous art internationally and supporting Indigenous communities.

Mitchell was also heavily involved in sport, including helping to ensure the viability of soccer in Australia and as a co-owner of the Melbourne Rebels rugby union team.

“Harold Mitchell was one of our great media/business/philanthropic success stories,” Mr McGuire said via the Herald Sun.

“He backed himself as an unlikely mogul from Stawell. Became a friend and confidant to the biggest names in Australian business, in media, sport, advertising and the arts.

“Was fiercely his own man and a loyal friend and business ally to those he believed in. He more than paid his rent on this earth. One of Victoria’s finest.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commended Mitchell for his vision, generosity, and impact on society over the last 45 years, particularly through his Harold Mitchell Foundation, which supports health, education, and the arts around the nation.

“Harold Mitchell’s vision and determination did so much to shape Australian media and communications, over decades,” the PM said.

“Harold’s tremendous professional success was matched by extraordinary generosity as a philanthropist across the arts, sport, medical research and education.”

His personal life saw him overcoming challenges such as alcoholism and obesity, and he made headlines for his split from his wife of 50 years, Beverly, in 2013.

In 2019, he faced legal challenges related to his role in negotiating broadcast rights deals for Tennis Australia, resulting in a pecuniary penalty for breaching director’s duties.

Various individuals from the media and philanthropic sectors, including Neil Mitchell, James Warburton, and Nick Reece, acknowledged his toughness, leadership, and unique character.

Youth Activating Youth co-founder Ahmed Hassan and a Tennis Australia spokesman highlighted his kindness and valuable contributions to the community and sports.

He is survived by his two children, Stuart and Amanda

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