A heterogeneous catalyst system, employing Au nanoparticles (NPs) and Li-Al (1:2) layered double hydroxide (LDH) as support, showed excellent activity in aerobic oxidation of the benzylic alcohol group in β-O-4 linked lignin model dimers to the corresponding carbonyl products using molecular oxygen under atmospheric pressure. The synergistic effect between Au NPs and the basic Li-Al LDH support induces further reaction of the oxidized model compounds, facilitating facile cleavage of the β-O-4 linkage. Extension to oxidation of γ-valerolactone (GVL) extracted lignin and kraft lignin using Au/Li-Al LDH under similar conditions produced a range of aromatic monomers in high yield. Hydrolysis of the Au/Li-Al LDH oxidized lignin was found to increase the degree of lignin depolymerization, with monomer yields reaching 40% for GVL extracted lignin. Based on these results, the Au/Li-Al LDH + O2 catalyst system shows potential to be an environmentally friendly means of depolymerizing lignin to low molecular weight aromatics under mild conditions.