John Ilhan (born Mustafa İlhan; Turkish: İlhan; 23 January 1965 – 23 October 2007) was the founder of Crazy John's mobile phone retail chain and the richest Australian under 40 years of age in 2003. He was an Australian Muslim of Turkish origin.
Ilhan was born in 1965 in Yozgat, Turkey and migrated to Australia with his family when he was five. He grew up in working-class Broadmeadows in Melbourne's north-west. Here he attended Jacana Primary School and then Broadmeadows High School. Whilst at Jacana Primary he played in the school Football, Soccer and Basketball teams.
After just one year at university and a short time as a salesman at Ford, Ilhan took a sales job at the phone and electrical retailer Strathfield Car Radio. He left in 1991 to set up his own mobile-phone shop, right across the road from Strathfield's store in inner-city Brunswick. After expanding the business into Australia's biggest Telstra mobile dealership, with 18 stores in Victoria, Ilhan opened a handful of stores in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
He was ranked first in Business Review Weekly's Australia's Young Rich List 2003, with a fortune of $200 million. In the 2007 Rich List, he came in as the 126th richest man in Australia with a fortune of $310 million.
Ilhan was a vocal supporter of the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League. He made bids for the board and even offered to buy out Terry Wallace's contract in a bid to improve the team's performance by recruiting Kevin Sheedy.
Having amassed over $300 million by the young age of 40, John Ilhan became inspired to become a philanthropist, and contribute a large percentage of his earnings to charity. Before his death at the age of 42 in October 2007, he was recognized as one of the country's most generous philanthropists, having had provided regular donations to a wide range of charitable organizations.
Ilhan was able to make these donations through his self-established Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation. The Foundation was established primarily from Ilhan's $1 million donation towards it, and was inspired by his daughter's severe allergy to peanuts.
During his lifetime, the Charity's that the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation was able to contribute towards include: the Richmond Football Club, Kids Under Cover, The Alfred Hospital Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, and Murdoch Children's Research Institute Allergy and Immune Disorders Research Group Department of Allergy and Immunology.
Ilhan died of a suspected heart attack, during a morning walk in Brighton, Victoria on 23 October 2007, aged 42 but an autopsy later revealed that he was felled by a hereditary heart condition that also claimed the life of his older brother. He left behind a wife Patricia and four children. His final interview was shown on Today Tonight the day before his death. A traditional Islamic funeral was held at the Broadmeadows Mosque on 26 October 2007. Among the approximately 3,000 mourners were Ahmed Fahour and Eddie McGuire.
- "An upwardly mobile, 'crazy' young Turk", by Ben Doherty. The Age, p.11. Published 24 October 2007.
- Tributes flow in for 'Crazy John'
- Wallace buy-out crazy for Ilhan
- John Ilhan's Faces of Philanthropy profile page. Faces of Philanthropy, accessed 17 December 2010.
- Tributes Flow for Crazy John Ilhan. Herald Sun, accessed 17 December 2010.
- [1.http://www.ilhanfoundation.org/WhoWeHelp.htm Who We Help]. Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation, accessed 17 December 2010.
- John Ilhan Dead at 42
- Mobile phone king 'Crazy John' Ilhan dies
- Ilhan send-off filled with echoes of his lucrative calling – National