Troubled Florida Millionaire Missing After Empty Yacht Washes Ashore

Guma Aguiar is a Jewish philanthropist who was last seen on Tuesday.

June 21, 2012, 11:16 AM

June 21, 2012 — -- Troubled Florida millionaire and philanthropist Guma Aguiar is missing after his yacht washed ashore with the ignition running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

Fort Lauderdale police responded to a report of a beached boat early on Wednesday morning and police identified Aguiar as the owner of the 31-foot vessel.

Aguiar, 35, made his fortune in 2006 when he and his uncle Thomas Kaplan sold their Texas-based energy company for a reported $2.5 billion, according to the Associated Press. He has been in a messy legal battle with his uncle for years over the division of the money.

After finding his boat, authorities went to Aguiar's home to speak to his wife Jamie Aguiar. She said that when she arrived home the night before, she believed her husband was in the home office, according to police.

One of the couple's employees told Jamie Aguiar that her husband had actually gone out on his boat at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"No one has seen Guma since," Fort Lauderdale police wrote in a statement. "Jamie told officers that she is concerned for her husband's safety."

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Marine Units are searching for Aguiar. Police believe his is "endangered" and have said they are not ruling anything out at this point.

Aguiar's mother said it was not unusual for her son to take the boat out solo for an evening.

"What appears to have happened is Guma took his boat into the ocean when it was very calm before the storm and he ended up in the storm," his mother Ellen Aguiar told "He likes to do that and it was one of those beautiful evenings, sort of a moonless night, but it was a very interesting sky and I think he just…he found solace going onto the water."

Though the boat's engine was running and lights were on, one important piece of the boat was broken—the tie rod, experts at Sea Tow, the company that towed Aguiar's boat from the beach, told ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG. The rod holds the boat's two motors parallel and without the rod, the boat could lose control, which may have knocked him overboard.

Ellen Aguiar would like to hope for the best, but she is realistic about the fate her son may have met.

"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 said. "The likelihood is that he was tossed off the boat into the waves. The boat was found, but the body has not been found."

Aguiar called her son "very charismatic" and a "very powerful person."

"He was equally gifted at dealing with a down-and-out street person as he was dealing with a multi-billionaire," she said. "He had the ability to walk with kings, but not lose the common touch."

He is a father of four whose youngest child is 10 months old and he also has a 3-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. His wife did not respond to request for comment from

"When I was there yesterday, I did not see them," Ellen Aguiar said. "The children were with their maternal grandmother and I haven't heard from them. I haven't heard from his wife either."

"I adore my grandchildren," she said. "Many of the things that were going on with Gumar…there were times that it brought me closer and times that I was kept at a distance."

Though her devoutly Jewish son is known for being the main sponsor for an elite Israeli soccer team and making multi-million dollar charitable gifts to Jewish organizations, she was guarded when speaking about some of his transgressions.

"When conflicts arose…conflicts arose," she said when asked about some of her son's troubles. "There were many things going on that I'm going to refrain from addressing."

Guma Aguiar has been arrested several times, including for drug possession and driving under the influence, according to court records. He is also 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.

At the time, his family released a statement saying, "Guma Aguiar 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 dealings with his uncle."

They went on to say that his 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, according to the Sun Sentinel.

"My son was a man of vision and dreams and he loves Israel and Jerusalem and he was a very spiritual person," Ellen Aguiar said. "And I will work to perpetuate his dreams and goals for his legacy and for his children and his children's children to preserve the ideals he carried with him in his heart. [He] was able to make so many of them possible, but it got cut short."