A judge in Florida’s Broward County on Thursday declared that Guma Aguiar, the Jewish philanthropist who disappeared off Fort Lauderdale in June, 2012, is dead, according to NBC Miami.
Aguiar, 35, was last seen on a surveillance video taking a fishing boat out into choppy waters. His 31-foot long boat surfaced early the next morning off Las Olas Boulevard with the lights and engine still running.
Aguiar's wallet and cell phone were found on board, but no remains of him were ever found, despite intense search efforts.
According to NBC Miami, his family members had sought to have him declared dead in order to control his estate, which is estimated to be around $100 million.
His mother, Ellen Aguiar, and wife, Jamie, had been locked in lawsuits for control of the fortune, the report noted.
Jamie accused her mother-in-law of wanting to drive a wedge between her and Guma, while Ellen said that the reason Guma went out to sea on the day he disappeared was that he was distraught after Jamie told him she wants to divorce him. Jamie completely denies this version of events.
In November, a court approved a compromise agreed upon by the sides, according to which Aguiar’s estate would be divided among his heirs.
Aguiar gained sudden fame in Israel as a charismatic figure who was associated with the Israeli religious right wing and gave generously to Torah institutes and yeshivas. He also bought Jerusalem's Beitar Jerusalem soccer team.