Jun 8, 2012

Tasmanian recession? Not at David Walsh’s bizarre world of art

As eccentric art lover and professional gambler David Walsh steps up his battle with the taxman, the economic contribution of his Museum of Old and New Art to Tasmania's struggling state economy is mounting.

Tom Cowie

Crikey journalist

As eccentric art lover and professional gambler David Walsh steps up his battle with the taxman, the economic contribution of his Museum of Old and New Art to Tasmania’s struggling state economy is mounting.

Visitor survey results compiled by Tourism Tasmania from July 2011 to March 2012 show Walsh’s $175 million s-x and death-themed museum has rocketed to become the second-most popular icon in the Apple Isle, sitting behind Hobart’s historical Salamanca Market.

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12 thoughts on “Tasmanian recession? Not at David Walsh’s bizarre world of art

  1. Gavin Moodie

    Yes, MONA is a great attraction. You start at constitution dock, get a ferry to the museum, wander round the gallery more or less randomly, have lunch at one of the cafes or at the winery or brewery restaurant, wander around the outdoor sculpture gallery and winery and return to the city on the ferry.

  2. John Newton

    So let’s leave Walsh and his partner alone – if they have fiddled the tax books a little, they’ve given back in spades and have done far more for Tasmania than the scoundrels at Gunn’s

  3. Gavin Moodie

    I disagree that Walsh’s innovative cultural philanthropy should excuse him from obeying the law, including paying taxes. However, his philanthropy and other good works may lighten his penalty if he indeed did offend.

  4. dunph

    Walsh is to be commended for his unorthodox approach to all things.

    MONA is a sight to behold – the building itself is half the attraction as the “art” inside.

    Like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, MONA is a magnet for art-tourism and is world class.

    As a country who lauds Ned Kelly, Peter Lalor and tacitly forgives Alan Bond, the ATO would do better investigating Port Lincoln tuna millionaires than pursuing a maths-savant hippy in Tassie.

  5. mikeb

    Not so much that DW is avoiding tax as disputing whether the tax law captures gambling in his case. Having such a high profile makes him a target for testing tax law whereas the smaller punter maybe making a living out of gambling is not worth fighting over.
    As for MONA itself – it worth a visit just to see the architecture and attention to detail let alone the exhibits. Truly an amazing place even if you don’t like much of what’s on show.

  6. icer

    Am I the only killjoy here that has a problem with the mona funding coming from betting? I’ve come across a few people whose lives have been wrecked by gambling, and am not sure that MONA is really morally satisfying as an upside.

  7. Gavin Moodie

    I think the difference here might be that Walsh’s money came from being a gambler not from being a bookie or owner of a casino or pokies. That is, the argument is that gambling isn’t wrong in itself, but that exploitation is wrong in all its forms, gambling being one of them with drug dealing, people trafficking, etc.

  8. Andybob

    Dangerous waters for the ATO. Even if you accept that there is such a thing as a ‘professional gambler’ as distinct from a merely ‘successful gambler’, there will be a long line of people seeking deductions for gambling losses.

  9. AR

    Walsh did over the bookies at the track AND casino owners so that makes him OK in my books. That he then uses his OWN money for the common weal moves him into an entirely new category (for my personal pantheon) a hero!

  10. AR

    Is there something in the air or water in Tassy that results in so much philanthropy and concern for something other than self satiation?
    Jan Cameron uses her wealth from Katmandu for the benefit of animals, people and the environment.
    David Walsh – above, has pitted his wits against one of the toughest and most ruthless/amoral legal industries (apart from the arms trade) and laughed all the bank.
    Graeme Wood donates his WOT-IF profits to the Greens, the environment and attempting to break the media stranglehold with Global Mail.
    Well done sez I.

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