The mother of Guma Aguiar, the missing Brazilian-born, Jewish philanthropist, has said that her son may still be alive, wandering the streets of Fort Lauderdale after experiencing a nervous breakdown.
In a petition filed to a Florida court to seize his $100 million fortune, Ellen Aguiar stated that Aguiar ‘may be in a delusional state or be suffering from psychosis or otherwise may have disappeared.’
Submitting documents to the Broward County Clerk of Courts, Mrs Aguiar is seeking to become the conservator and guardian of Aguiar’s estate following his disappearance on Wednesday after his empty motorboat washed ashore on a Fort Lauderdale beach.
In her petition, Mrs Aguiar claimed that, ‘The Absentee disappeared as the result of mental derangement, or other mental cause, or, in the alternative, disappeared under circumstances indicating that he may have died, either naturally, accidentally, or at the hand of another.’
Court documents seen by ABC News show that on May 11, Aguiar amended his declaration which designated guardianship over assets ‘in the event of my incapacity’ from his wife Jamie Aguiar to his mother.
A version of the document from March had his wife listed as the primary guardian, but in the May version her name has been removed altogether.
The legal petition to control his assets lists a $50 million investment portfolio, $15 million in cash and $35 million in Israeli real estate.
Mrs Aguiar has even raised the possibility that her son may have been kidnapped.
‘I would be delighted to hear that he was kidnapped and being taken great care of, and I believe in miracles and would hope for a miracle. I think, realistically, what happened is pretty clear,’ she told ABC News.
‘The likelihood is that he was tossed off the boat into the waves. The boat was found, but the body has not been found.’
Having searched 1,523 square miles, or roughly an area the size of Rhode Island, the search for 35-year-old Guma Aguiar, the founder of a Texas-based energy company worth billions was called off at 9.p.m on Thursday.
Mrs Aguiar, of Pompano Beach, Florida claimed that her son’s cellphone and wallet were found on the boat by police according to the files submitted to court reported the Sun Sentinel.
The petition filed at Broward County Clerk of Courts also states that Aguiar is on probation after pleading no contest in February to charges that relate to a domestic violence case.
Mrs Aguiar is looking to control his fortune to support his wife and son’s, to manage his properties and to pay his employees salaries.
‘There is an imminent danger that the property of the absentee is in danger of being wasted, misappropriated or lost unless immediate action is taken because the absentee has disappeared … and assets must be protected from waste and/or dissipation,’ the petition states.
His home in Fort Lauderdale is valued at $5 million, he has seven cars valued at $1.1 million, and a yacht that is valued at $2.1 million states Mrs Aguiar’s petition.
Speaking to CNN this morning, Mrs Aguiar was unequivocal that her son was having difficulty coping with life.
‘He was struggling, he was under tremendous pressures that would not cease,’ said Mrs Aguiar.
‘And those of us who were very concerned reached out to parties essentially begging them to mitigate him from some of the pressures and allow him to take a break.’
In 2006, Aguiar sold his company, Leor Energy, for a reported $2.55billion. Since the sale of the company, he and his uncle, Thomas Kaplan, have been in a bitter legal battle.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Kaplan accused Aguiar of believing he was the Messiah. His nephew shot back, saying the allegation was slanderous and that he never made such a claim.
‘People have said what an amazing accomplishment it was that I started a company at 26 from nothing, and built it up to be so successful,’ he told the Sun-Sentinel in 2009.
‘When I sold the company, I gave credit to God.’
He was also forcibly admitted to an Israeli psychiatric ward in 2010 after he fell victim to what his family would later call ‘psychological terrorism.’
They released a statement at the time saying he ‘has been subjected for a prolonged period of time to intensive emotional pressures caused by malicious court cases in the United States concerning past business deals with his uncle.’
The 35-year-old energy magnate is believed to have left his home at around 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday night to take his private boat out and has not been seen since.
According to Rabbi Moshe Meir Lipszyc of Chabad Lubavitch, Aguiar’s family is ‘completely devastated.’ He told WPTV: ‘We are hoping and praying for a miracle. We are hoping if he fell off the boat, that he was able to swim to shore.’
Included in the Coast Guard’s search were two boats, a helicopter and ground crews.
News of the mogul’s disappearance has travelled to Israel, as Aguiar once donated $8million to Nefesh b’Nefesh, an organisation that helps Jews fund their move to Israel. He is also a major sponsor of an elite Israeli soccer team.
Aguiar was born to Jewish parents but was raised as an Evangelical Christian, he explained in a 2009 Lubavitch article.
‘I came here because I wanted to try something authentic,’ said Aguiar.
When the yacht was first found by police, they immediately traveled to Aguiar’s Fort Lauderdale home where his wife Jaime Aguiar informed officers that she thought he was in his office.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Broward Sheriff’s and Fort Lauderdale Police marine units shortly afterwards launched a massive search for the missing businessman when he was found to be unaccounted for.
The missing father-of-four’s wife told Fort Lauderdale police that she has massive concerns for his safety, Detective Travis Mandell said on Wednesday.
‘We’re all out there, coordinating a search of the waterways, as well as the ocean, to try to locate if he’s possibly in the water,’ said Mandell.
‘We had officers scouring the beach on ATVs, searching if he may have come ashore there.
‘Anything’s possible at this point, and investigators are pursuing all leads, so we’re hoping that if anyone out there has seen Mr. Aguiar, to please contact their local law enforcement.’
The T.T. Zion was towed up to the boat ramp on 15th Street in Fort Lauderdale and to a police warehouse in the city where it is awaiting police inspection.
A friend of the family, Fred Haddad, expressed his confusion, telling the Sun Sentinel that Aguiar was extremely knowledgeable on boats.
‘I’m just kind of dumbfounded,’ said Haddad. ‘I really like the guy. He’s as nice as they come.’
The local Rabbi, Moshe Meir Lipszyc of Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale said that he was devastated for Aguiar’s family.
‘They are all very, very worried about him,’ said Lipszyc.
‘We are hoping and praying for a miracle. We are hoping if he fell off the boat, that he was able to swim to shore. He is massively special and with God’s help and all our prayers, we hope he will be OK.’
A known philanthropist, the Brazilian born millionaire has donated $8 million in the past to Nefesh b’Nefesh, an organisation that helps American and British Jews move to Israel.
Aguiar is also a large supporter of the ‘March of the Living’ which is an educational program in Poland and Israel designed to continue public awareness of the Holocaust in those countries.
He also became a regular on Israeli sports pages when he invested $4 million into Israeli Premier League soccer team Beitar Jerusalem in July 2009.
In September 2009, Aguiar also purchased Jerusalem’s leading basetball franchise Hapoel Jerusalem for $1.5 million.
Despite his family and business interests, Aguiar has 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.
And court documents indicate that in 2011, Aguiar’s wife Jaime and his mother, successfully petitioned a Miami-Dade judge to appoint an emergency guardian for him.
In addition, Aguiar and his uncle, Thomas Kaplan have been locked in litigation over the $2.55 billion sale of an energy company they co-founded called Leor Exploration and Production LLC which was involved in gas extraction in Texas.
Kaplan brought a January 2009 lawsuit against his nephew in which he said Aguiar claimed he was the Messiah.
Aguiar denied making this claim.
‘People have said what an amazing accomplishment it was that I started a company at 26 from nothing and built it up to be so successful,’ Aguiar told the Sun Sentinel in 2009.
‘When I sold the company, I gave credit to God.’
In the same year, Aguiar pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor drug charges after he was stopped by Broward Sheriff deputies at a traffic stop.
He avoided any jail time for this by tried to level unproven charges of anti-Semitism against the arresting officers.
Missing boat millionaire ‘could be alive and suffering from psychosis,’ claims his mother as she files to be guardian of $100 million assets…not his wife
*Missing Guma Aguiar transferred primary guardianship over his personal property ‘in the event of my incapacity’ from his wife to his mother in May
*His mother, Ellen Aguiar has said he may still be alive in a state of psychosis
*Sold lucrative energy company in 2006 for reported $2.55billion
*Has been in bitter legal battle with uncle and company co-founder over allegations Aguiar claimed to be the Messiah
James Nye/Beth Stebner
June 21, 2012
Missing Florida Millionaire’s Wife Asked for Divorce Hours Before Disappearance
June 25, 2012
Troubled missing millionaire Guma Aguiar’s wife told him she wanted a divorce just hours before he vanished from his fishing boat, the lawyer for Aguiar’s mother told ABCNews.com today.
It was the latest twist in a mystery that has sparked a vicious tug-of-war between his wife and mother over control of Aguiar’s $100 million estate.
Aguiar’s disappearance has triggered a barrage of rapid fire legal filings by his mother and wife over the last few days, with the wife filing counter documents today seeking control of her husband’s estate.
It was the third legal filing since Aguiar, 35, vanished last Wednesday when his 31-foot fishing boat washed up on a Fort Lauderdale beach with the engine running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.
The U.S. Coast Guard and multiple police agencies launched a search for Aguiar, but the Coast Guard search suspended their search last Thursday night.
Documents filed last week by his mother to secure control of her son’s assets suggest that the Aguiar may be alive and in a “delusional state or be suffering from psychosis.”
But today a lawyer for Aguiar’s mother Ellen Aguiar suggested that the millionaire was in a despondent mood when he got onto his boat last week.
“An hour before he got on his boat, the wife told Guma she wanted a divorce,” attorney Richard Baron told ABCNews.com. “I’m of the belief that that’s what pushed him over the deep end. He loved his wife. He did not want a divorce.”
Court records show that Guma Aguiar filed for divorce from Jamie Aguiar in July 2011, but the couple did not go through with the divorce.
“I’m hoping he’s alive,” Baron said. “I’m hoping he does get divorced. She’s shown her true colors.”
Baron said that Ellen Aguiar spoke to her son and hour before he got on his 31-foot fishing boat the T.T. Zion and sailed off.
“She thinks he went off the deep end and got on the boat depressed [and then] jumped, fell or is somewhere clinging to life,” Baron said. “A mother’s optimism knows no bounds. She’s not thinking the worst.”
The assets include $65 million in bank assets, $35 million in Israeli real estate, the $5 million Florida home he shares with his family, and seven cars and a yacht valued at over $3 million.
Court documents filed today by attorneys for Ellen Aguiar and obtained by ABCNews.com say that Guma Aguiar’s property is in “imminent danger” of being “wasted, misappropriated, or lost” by his wife Jamie Aguiar unless immediate action is taken to preserve the status quo.
The document alleges that his wife Jamie Aguiar fired Aguiar & Associates’ CFO “without any reason or justification whatsoever and without a majority vote for the remaining officers to do so.”
It also claims that his wife contacted the chairman of the board of Hapoel Jerusalem, a basketball team owned by Guma Aguiar, and instructed him to take no further action with the team, including paying the salaries of employees.
“The Absentee’s Wife has taken such actions without court order, without power of attorney, and without any other authority to do so,” the document states.
Jamie Aguiar’s agent Suzanne Faulkner has been acting on her behalf and executing these actions, according to the document. Faulkner did not respond to request for comment.
The court document was an amended version of a document filed last week by Ellen Aguiar with the Broward County Circuit Court in which she filed to become the conservator or temporary guardian of Aguiar’s estate. Following backlash from her daughter-in-law, Aguiar filed for money management company Northern Trust to gain control.
“She doesn’t want to be in a dispute with her daughter-in-law,” Ellen Aguiar’s attorney Richard Baron told ABCNews.com. “This is not about power or greed. It’s just about preserving the status quo. All she wants to do is find her son and get the conservatorship to protect the assets and her family.”
Court documents show that just last month, on May 11, Guma Aguiar had amended his declaration designating primary guardianship over his personal property “in the event of my incapacity” from his wife Jamie Aguiar to his mother.
Jamie Aguiar’s attorney condemned Ellen Aguiar’s original filing for conservatorship.
“She files motions in courts trying to take over everything while the divers are still out looking for Guma’s body,” attorney Bill Scherer told the Associated Press. “It’s bizarre.”
He said that Ellen Aguiar’s attempts to gain control of the estate have added to the family’s stress about the disappearance.
“[Jamie Aguiar is] hoping that he’s had another mental breakdown and that he’s out there somewhere and will come walking back when he gets himself stabilized,” Scherer told the AP.
Bill Scherer did not respond to request for comment from ABCNews.com today. Baron denounced Scherer’s comments.
“For him to say that [Ellen Aguiar] was on a money grab or that was she did was wrong was outrageous,” Baron said, insisting that his client is simply trying to “do what Guma would have wanted” and “stop the fighting.”
The devoutly Jewish Aguiar is known for being the main sponsor for an elite Israeli soccer team and making multi-million dollar charitable gifts to Jewish organizations, he has also had a number of personal transgressions.
He has been arrested several times, including for drug possession and driving under the influence, according to court records. He is also currently on probation after pleading no contest to domestic violence charges.
In 2010, he was involuntarily admitted to an Israeli psychiatric hospital after his erratic behavior.
Aguiar made his fortune in 2006 when he and his uncle Thomas Kaplan sold their Texas-based energy company for a reported $2.5 billion. The two have been in a messy legal battle since 2009 over the division of the money.
They went on to say that he was the victim of what amounted to “psychological terrorism.”
In 2011, he was appointed an emergency guardian after his wife and mother petitioned a Miami-Dade judge for one.
The couple has four children, the youngest of whom is 10 months old. They also have a 3-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.
A hearing on Thursday at the Broward County court has been scheduled to appoint conservatorship.