Guma Aguiar, a Jewish multimillionaire and philanthropist who went missing nearly three years ago while sailing alone in choppy waters off the coast of Florida, was declared legally dead on Thursday.
The 35-year-old Brazilian-born oil and gas tycoon vanished from Fort Lauderdale at sunset on June 19, 2012, just hours after his wife allegedly threatened him with a divorce, the Daily Mail said.
His 31-foot boat T.T. Zion washed ashore the next day on a beach with the lights on and its engine on full throttle. Police found Aguiar’s cell phone and wallet aboard the vessel, but there was no sign of the married father of four, according to the Mail.
Days after the mysterious disappearance, Aguiar’s wife and mother went to war for control of his $100 million fortune. But this week the two women temporarily put their differences aside and submitted a joint petition asking a Broward County judge to officially declare Aguiar dead so they could gain access to his estate, the report said.
After hearing testimony from Jamie and Ellen Aguiar, as well as from the lead detective investigating the missing-person case, Judge Mark Speiser granted the women’s request, the Mail said.
“The legal battles are settled and resolved, ” attorney Albert Frevola representing Aguiar’s now-widow told the Sun-Sentinel. “And the survivors will be able to move on with their lives.”
The petition to have Aguiar declared dead states that he accidentally fell overboard and drowned. His body was never recovered. Jamie Aguiar said in court that her husband’s bank accounts have been dormant for nearly three years, providing further proof that he was dead, the Mail said.
Aguilar made his fortune in 2006 when his Texas-based oil and gas exploration company, Leor Energy, sold for a reported $2.55 billion, according to the report.
The missing magnate donated $8 million in the past to Nefesh b’Nefesh, an organization that helps American and British Jews move to Israel, and was also a large supporter of the “March of the Living” – an educational program in Poland and Israel designed to continue public awareness of the Holocaust in those countries, the Mail said.
He also became a regular on Israeli sports pages when he invested $4 million in Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem in July 2009. He also purchased Israeli basketball franchise Hapoel Jerusalem for $1.5 million in September of that year, the report said.
Despite his family and business interests, Aguiar had a history of mental illness and was admitted to an Israeli psychiatric hospital after claiming to know a soldier in Israel who had been abducted by the terrorist group Hamas, according to the Mail.
He was on probation for domestic violence when he disappeared. The multimillionaire had reportedly argued with his wife, when she is said to have threatened him with a divorce, hours before he went missing, the report said.
A lawyer for the philanthropist’s mother, Ellen, said the wealthy humanitarian was in low spirits when he went out on his boat that fateful Tuesday in June, after receiving the blow from Jamie – a claim the wife has repeatedly denied. The multimillionaire had spoken with his mother an hour before he got on to his 31-foot boat and sailed off, the Mail said.
About six hours after Aguiar sped off in his boat, it was discovered abandoned on the beach next to a bar with the keys still in the ignition, the report said.