Name: Judith Neilson
Birthplace: Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe
Current residence: Sydney, Australia
Date of Birth: 1946
Occupation: Philanthropist and Art patron
Known for:The White Rabbit Gallery
Neilson, born in Bulawayo in 1946, was the eldest of four sisters. As a daughter of a father who was a mechanic day and a mother who was a teacher, Judith emerged from humble roots. She narrates in an interview that once as a toddler, the highest privilege was being offered a bell to keep. At a tender age of 17, she pursued textiles and graphic design at the Natal technical college and, for this reason, had to move to Durban. It was in 1983 that Neilson finally settled in Australia with husband Kerr and assumed the role of a stay-at-home motherraising two daughters.
Judith Neilson, a former graphic designer and theex-wife of the Australian billionaire Kerr Neilson, is now a billionaire herself. However, it was not until she played an active role in Kerr’s investment banking and made career advancements for herself, that Judith was decisively welcomed in the billionaire business sphere. As an individual, she is not only a skilled artist but has been innately fond of collecting meaningful pieces of art. To be precise, she began collecting contemporary Chinese art in 1999, and that implanted the seeds of her independent professional endeavors.
Neilson’s journey from a billionaire’s wife and a stay-at-home mother and eventually to a billionaire herself is quite commendable. In the International equities manager, at the Platinum Asset Management fund founded by her former husband in 1994, Judith is a stakeholder since 2007. She has along the way, not held back from generously pitching in millions of dollars to Sydney’s philanthropic art projects. Two years later that is in 2009, Neilson, along with her then-husband, kick-started the highly acclaimed White Rabbit Gallery in the suburb of Chippendale (Sydney), at a particular location of a refurbished Rolls Royce showroom. The gallery is an adored, rather an ideal destination for a Chinese art lover in Australia. Its collection, also known as the White Rabbit collection is easily one of the world’s largest and substantial collection of contemporary Chinese art. With 65,000 visitors last year. Neilson’s gallery, which initially took off with 40 Chinese artists, at present, employs 400 artists from China and 50 from Taiwan and costs $4 million to run per annum. All in all, the White Rabbit is a privately funded museum of Australia with a collection comprised of 3500 pieces by 700 artists.
Of her other projects are the Phoenix Central Park and JN Projects Architecture. The Phoenix is a $32 million art gallery and performance space, situated right next to Judith’s house in Chippendale. As envisioned, the Phoenix Park is a safe space for subjects like performing and visual arts, architecture and interior design, music, and poetry to amalgamate and reflect the cultural renaissance of a suburb. On the other hand, the JN Projects Architecture provides for a surreal architectural modernization, tainted with a touch of contemporary.
The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and ideas materialized in November 2018, in accordance with the Australian Philanthropist’s pledge to confer $100 million in the way of evidence-based truthful journalism. Through this platform, Neilson hopes to achieve not only credible journalism but media education as well.
Four years ago, Judith Neilson as a runner up to Gina Rinehart, was ranked Australia’s richest woman. Today, her net worth is $1.7 billion.
The billionaires divorced in 2015. It does not come off as a surprise that the said divorce settled as one of the most high-profile, expensive divorces Sydney has witnessed in a time. In fact, it led to Judith Nelson debuting on Australia’s list of elite, acquiring a net worth of $1.55 billion. Today, Judith lives alone in her multi-million dollar concrete home called theIndigo Slam. Her daughters Paris Neilson and Beau Neilson live close by.
The Indigo Slam
Something interesting about Judith
In 2016, for the uncontestable generosity and contribution in public welfare, Neilson was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia. Also, an honorary doctorate by the UNSW was awarded to her in 2018, in recognition of her endorsement of contemporary art and the philanthropic journey she has lived.