Franco Belgiorno-Nettis

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Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE
Born(1915-06-20)20 June 1915
Died8 July 2006(2006-07-08) (aged 91)
Height1.57 m (5 ft 2 in)
Partner(s)Amina Belgiorno-Nettis
ChildrenMarco, Luca and Guido[1][2]

Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE (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 Australian Biennale subsequently known as the Biennale of Sydney.[2][3]


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.[3] 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.

Franco Belgiorno-Nettis and Amina Cerino-Zegna wed by proxy in 1951 – Belgiorno-Nettis' brother represented him at the altar of Turin Cathedral for the marriage. Amina soon after joined her husband in Australia, and their three sons, Marco Belgiorno-Zegna, Luca Belgiorno-Nettis and Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, were born between 1953 and 1959.[2]

In 1956 he and his professional partner, Carlo Salteri, set up Transfield which became the largest construction and engineering firm in the Southern Hemisphere.[4]

He was also prominent as a patron of the arts. In 1961 he set up the Transfield Art Prize.[3] He also helped to found the Biennale of Sydney in 1973.

Franco Belgiorno-Nettis died in 2006 aged 91 either after a fall while on holiday in Italy,[3] and/or of a terminal brain stroke while attending to home maintenance in Italy.[citation needed]


His portrait was among the 2004 Archibald Prize finalists.(Copyright image)[9]


  1. ^ "Belgiorno-Nettis", Dynasties, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 15 December 2003
  2. ^ a b c "Amina Belgiorno-Nettis". National Portrait Gallery.
  3. ^ a b c d Stephens, Tony (11 July 2006). "An achiever whose dreams came true". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016.
  4. ^ Dusevic, Tom (15 May 2015). "Transfield's Luca Belgiorno-Nettis branches into information technology". The Australian. News Corp.
  5. ^ The Order of the British Empire - Commander (Civil) (CBE), 31 December 1976,
  6. ^ Member of the Order of Australia (AM), 10 June 1985,
  7. ^ Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), 26 January 1997,
  8. ^ Centenary Medal, 1 January 2001,
  9. ^ Franco Belgiorno-Nettis - 'larger than life' by Danelle Bergstrom, 2004 Archibald Prize finalist, Art Gallery of NSW.

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