It has long been speculated that one of Melbourne’s finest streets, Monomeath Avenue in leafy Canterbury is cursed. Monomeath Avenue, which intersects the “Golden Mile” on Mont Albert Road, has been home to former Run Chairman (and NAB CEO) Frank Cicutto, as well as Russell Jones, the former Amcor CEO, who allegedly entered into cartel arrangements with Richard Pratt’s Visy Group. Kylie Minogue’s parents also moved from neighboring Alexandra Avenue about the time the singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. However, it appears that Monomeath Avenue is being challenged as Australia’s most cursed promenade by Queensland’s most expensive street — Hedges Avenue in Mermaid Beach.

Yesterday, the Australian Financial Review reported that young IT entrepreneur Daniel Tzvetkoff had been forced to sell his partially completed Hedges Avenue mansion for $16 million. The Herald Sun noted that “the extravagant house sits protected from the street by a gate of solid timber, and features a 10-car garage, billiard room, gym, massage room and theatre”.

The problem for Tzvetkoff was that he had paid $27 million for the property a year before. Tzvetkoff ran into problems after his IT companies BT Projects and Intabill went into liquidation in July owing $61 million. Tzvetkoff’s problems don’t end there — it has been alleged that he “siphoned off more than $35 million from the company’s accounts for his private use (and) among the items allegedly paid for with company money was a $725,000 Lamborghini; an $80,000 advanced driving course; sponsorship of a V8 Supercar team; a $70,000 golf membership; and a $10,000 pet.”

Tzvetkoff had purchased the property from former Sydney Swans footballer Tony Smith. Smith founded travel company BreakFree (and effectively created the Schoolies phenomenon) before selling the business to failed fund manager MFS/Octaviar. Smith (like fellow Queensland accommodation merchant Chris Scott) unwisely elected to receive MFS shares, rather than cash for his company. Smith then used the proceeds to build a $50 million-$70 million mega-mansion on Hedges Avenue. This became problematic when MFS’ share price fell to zero.

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Tzvetkoff and Smith haven’t been the only Hedges victims — former resident Harry Kakavas (who was believed to be known on the Gold Coast as “Hedges Harry”), sold his Hedges Avenue property for $18 million in 2004. Kakavas is currently pursuing legal action against Crown Casino after the alleged gambling addict managed to lose $30 million at the casino.

Kakavas had rather humble beginnings as a school teacher in suburban Melbourne before turning his hand to development (one of his first projects was an apartment development at his parent’s South Caulfield property). Kakavas then operated a real estate agency before purchasing several multimillion dollar properties on Hedges Avenue. At one point, Kakavas was believed to have a net worth of upwards of $60 million before much of that at Crown Casino (Kakavas allegedly bet more than $1.5 billion during a 16-month binge).

Then there’s Ken and Madeline Lacey, who spent about $11 million acquiring a Hedge’s Avenue property developed by promoter Michael Edgley. Ken Lacey made his fortune distributing milk before becoming a property developer. While the Laceys made a tidy profit on that property, their two sons last year were charged with the murder of landscaper Kevin Palmer. One of the sons, Dionne, was eventually convicted of manslaughter while the other, Jade, was found guilty of wounding. It had also been alleged that Dionne and Jade Lacey once forced a former associate to “dig his own grave (and then) kneel beside the grave before one of the brothers held a gun to his head, pulling the trigger three times”. The Lacey’s bad run continued when they sold a property on neighboring Albatross Avenue this year for $5.25 million after paying more than $9 million in 2007.

The Hedges Avenue property sold by the Laceys was purchased in 2008 by former Carlton footballer Rod Galt for $18.6 million. Galt then became embroiled in a $15 million legal stoush and the property understood to be currently being sold by mortgagee Challenger Bank.

But the news isn’t all bad, Hedges Avenue is still home to some of Queensland’s wealthiest people, including long-time BRW rich list member John Longhurst, pharmacy baron Terry White, former BHP executive Ron McNeilly and Peter Mitchell.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

Liz
North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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