Franco Belgiorno-Nettis

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Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, AC (20 June 1915 – 8 July 2006) was an Australian industrialist and patron of the arts. He founded the construction and engineering company Transfield and also helped establish the Biennale of Sydney.

Belgiorno-Nettis was born in Cassano delle Murge in the Province of Bari in Apulia, Italy in 1915 and attended the Turin Military Academy before joining the Italian army and serving in North Africa during World War II. He spent 3 years at an allied POW camp in India. After the war he returned to Italy to complete his studies in engineering at the University of Turin. In 1951 he came to Australia as the employee of Italian engineering firm Electric Power Transmission, (an offshoot of Milan-based Societa' Anonima Elettrificazione), which was constructing powerlines.

In 1956 Belgiorno-Nettis and a colleague, Carlo Salteri, set up Transfield which became the largest construction and engineering firm in the Southern Hemisphere. One of Transfield's recent projects was the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

Belgiorno-Nettis was also prominent as a patron of the arts. In 1959 he set up the Transfield Art Prize, the largest art prize in Australia. He also helped to found the Biennale of Sydney in 1973. His portrait was among the finalists for the 2004 Archibald Prize.

Belgiorno-Nettis died aged 91 after a terminal brain stroke, while attending to home maintenance in Italy in 2006.

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