Madeleine’s mother, Yvonne Preston was a foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald. The Walkley Award winning journalist and her family spent a number of years living in China during the final period of Chairman Mao’s rule. Madeleine’s formative years were spent as one of a handful of foreign students living in Beijing through this turbulent era.

As part of her appointment, Yvonne Preston interviewed an array of leaders, dictators and despots visiting Beijing including Pol Pot, Yasser Arafat, Sadam Hussein and President of Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito.

The photo below was taken when Tito visited China in 1977, just prior their interview.

Tito was a master of playing both sides of politics – East and West. As the President of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia (SRY) for 37 years, Tito had huge support from the West due to his tempered partiality to capitalism. Tito’s openness to the West lead to a steady flow of capital and resources into Yugoslavia, resulting in a rise in the standard of living for the majority of Yugoslavs during his presidency.

Tito was noted for his penchant for the finer things.  Although this was at odds with his socialist ideology, his “Hollywood’ lifestyle was admired by his citizens and celebrated by the West.

One of the most extravagant examples was the now derelict, Haludovo Palace Hotel. Haludovo was an opulent accommodation and casino complex financed by Penthouse Magazine tycoon, Bob Guccione. Located on the Croatian island of Krk and designed in the Brutalist style by Croatian architect Boris Magas, Haludovo was a haven for the rich and famous. At a cost of 45 million US dollars, the mile long ‘Xanadu of glittering bulidings’ was a magnet for well-to-do American and British businessmen. Surrounded by the excesses of the ‘70’s lifestyle and Penthouse Pets as croupiers, this supreme statement of indulgent capitalism was ultimately irreconcilable with Socialism. Ultimately western guests failed to embrace the resort as expected and local residents were barred from gambling. The complex now lies in ruins.

Tito visits China in 1977.
Tito visits China in 1977.