Controversial businessman Geoffrey Edelsten, who made a name for himself as a flashy doctor, saved AFL team the Sydney Swans from extinction and had a string of young wives, has died.
Melbourne media reports say the 78-year-old’s body was found early on Friday afternoon at his home in the ritzy Balencea Apartments on inner-city St Kilda Road.
Police confirmed a report would be prepared for the coroner but said they are not treating his death as suspicious.
Melbourne-born Edelsten was famous for his high-rolling lifestyle and relationships with much younger women, including former wives Brynne Edelsten and Gabi Grecko.
At one stage he owned a garage packed with Rolls Royces and other top-end vehicles, many bearing licence plates that testified to his outsized ego and quest for public attention.
“Spunky”, “Sexy” and “Macho” were typical reflections of the way he thought about himself – and wanted others to do likewise.
He became, by his own description, the “white knight” of the Swans in 1985 as they faced dire financial pressure and concerns they couldn’t survive.
Addicted to the limelight
Edelsten was born in Melbourne on May 2, 1943 and spent most of his years surrounded by controversy.
Born in Carlton to Jewish migrant parents, he 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.
In the 1980s he set up a string of open-all-hours medical clinics that featured grand pianos and chandeliers in the waiting rooms. Patients, who were bulk-billed, flocked to the clinics.
Scandals, though, left a very different and long-lasting stain on the high-flying playboy reputation he strove so hard to cultivate.
While his medical practices featured mink-covered examination tables, none of that conspicuously displayed opulence stopped him being deregistered in NSW and Victoria in 1988 for a variety of breaches, including allowing unqualified staff to perform laser surgery.
Two years later he was convicted for perverting the course of justice and soliciting infamous underworld hitman Christopher Dale Flannery to assault a former patient, convictions that saw him spend time behind bars.
Edelsten claimed bankruptcy in both Australia and the United States in 2014, citing a number of bad business deals including “splurging” millions on 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.
Always a colourful fixture of Melbourne’s social scene, his unconventional lifestyle demanded attention. He published a book in 2011 titled Enigma, covering his life as a musical entrepreneur, career as a country doctor and city businessman.
Always a ladies man
But it was his relationships with pretty young blondes that kept him in the spotlight.
He divorced first wife Leanne, a model, 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 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.
The ever-romantic 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 on-again off-again relationship received much attention following Ms Grecko’s outlandish social media outbursts and revealing photos.
Their love bubble burst not long after, with claims of infidelity on Edelsten’s part, and a range of public spats.
By 2016 a bankrupt Edelsten was being chased by more than 40 creditors in Australia and the US, including the Australian Taxation Office, for millions of dollars.
In 2017 he sought an apprehended violence order against ex-wife Grecko, though she was then back in the US, and in 2019 he escaped penalty after being nabbed by police driving through Melbourne in an unregistered car.