The attorney for Guma Aguiar’s wife is saying that the Brazilian born billionaire could have staged his own disappearance to flee his marital and financial problems.
“It’s a family tragedy involving a young man who’s intelligent and very talented, but has a severe mental illness and those two things have interacted in his life for the last four years and has impacted his wife and four children dramatically,” attorney Bill Scherer told ABC News on Thursday, after a court hearing in Miami in which the missing man wife and mother clashed over his estate.
“He either committed suicide, fell off the boat and drowned, or staged it,” Scherer stated. “It’s hard to tell at this point…My client does hope and pray that he didn’t die.”
On June 19, Aguiar, 35, whose marriage was very unhappy, according to people in his circle, and who was in the midst of a court battle with his uncle, took his 31-foot fishing boat out to sea from Port Everglades in choppy seas and inclement weather. That same day, the boat ran aground on Fort Lauderdale beach, engine was running, lights on, and no one aboard.
Police spokesman Travis Mandell, told reporters the next day that Aguiar got into the boat alone, “but that’s not to say he didn’t meet up with anyone.”
The Miami Herald noted that Aguiar struggled for most of his life with a severe bipolar disorder, was arrested several times after “bizarre tirades,” was institutionalized at least twice, and even detained involuntarily for psychiatric evaluation.
But crazy or not, many causes found their savior in Aguiar. He donated more than $8 million to Nefesh B’Nefesh, and was a major supporter of the March of the Living, to name but two causes.
In 2009, the Aguiars served as the co-chairs of the “Facing Tomorrow” Conference in Jerusalem, and During the Conference, and Guma was on a panel with President Peres, offering his vision on Israeli society and culture from the perspective of one of the country’s entrepreneurs.
Aguiar founded the “Defender of Jerusalem Award” which recognizes public figures who have taken uniquely strong stances in support of Jerusalem: Shimon Peres, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Congresswoman Ileana Ros- Lehtinen and Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.
In court last Thursday, Guma’s mother Ellen Aguiar filed a petition for Northern Trust, a wealth management company, to become the guarantor of his assets.
His wife, Jamie Aguiar, filed for complete control of her husband’s assets which included a $50 million investment portfolio and $15 million in cash, as well as $40 million in Israeli real-estate – the latter sum being outside the Florida court’s jurisdiction.
According to ABC News, before Thursday’s hearing, a committee of three fellow Jews, two of them rabbis, which had been formed by Aguiar as his group of advisers, activated a legal mechanism that gave Northern Trust control of the assets. The court agreed and ruled in favor of Ellen Aguiar’s petition.
In court, attorney Scherer accused Aguiar’s mother Ellen Aguiar of being “an enabler of Guma’s irrationality,” and said she rode on her son’s “gravy train.”
When asked if Jamie Aguiar believes that her mother-in-law knows Guma Aguiar may be alive and staged his own disappearance to protect his assets, Scherer said, “She hopes that that’s so, that her children’s father will come back to them, that the good Guma will come back, not that he jumped out of that boat when it was three miles out.”Jewish Press Staff