Philanthropist Pratt buried in Australia


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Prominent personalities were among the more than 1,000 mourners at the funeral of Australian industrialist and philanthropist Richard Pratt.

Pratt, 74, who lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, was buried Thursday in an Orthodox Jewish funeral in Melbourne.

Among the dignitaries attending were former Prime Ministers John Howard and Bob Hawke, former state premiers Bob Carr, Jeff Kennett and Steve Bracks, and current Victorian Premier John Brumby. The stream of Jewish leaders included Frank Lowy, who like Pratt escaped war-torn Europe and built a global empire. Others were from the worlds of business, philanthropy, the arts and sports.

Pratt died one day after prosecutors withdrew their criminal case against the so-called  “Cardboard King,” whose packaging and recycling company, Visy Industries, was fined a record $25 million in 2007 for collusion with its rival.

American-born Rabbi Levi Wolff of Sydney’s Central Synagogue led the ceremony. Sam Lipski, chief executive of The Pratt Foundation, which has donated more than $140 million since 1978, delivered a eulogy.

Tributes continued to come in this week. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Pratt was “known for his exceptional energy, his mature wisdom, his kind heart and his outstanding contribution to the State of Israel.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Pratt’s passing was “a great loss for the State of Israel.”

American philanthropist Charles Bronfman added that “World Jewry and I, personally, have lost a true patriot and friend.”

Pratt, Australia’s fourth-richest man, built a packaging and recycling empire in Australia, Asia and America worth an estimated $3.8 billion.

Born Ryszard Przecicki in Poland in 1934, Pratt immigrated to Australia with his parents in 1938. He played Australian Rules football, performed on stage on Broadway, was a former publisher of The Jerusalem Report and was a supporter of the arts.


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