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Robert Oatley (1928 - 2016)

Getty Images / Martyn Hayhow

Robert Oatley (1928 - 2016)

Bob Oatley, the Australian billionaire sailor, winemaker, and owner of the record-breaking yacht the Wild Oats XI, has died at the age of 87 of unspecified causes, The Associated Press and the Guardian report.

Born in Sydney, Oatley embarked on his first entrepreneurial venture in Papua, New Guinea, launching a worldwide coffee and cocoa beans export business that flourished during the 1950s and '60s.

He translated the earnings of this success into the wine industry, planting the first vineyards in Australia’s Hunter Valley in 1969. By the mid-'80s, Oatley’s wines and his Rosemount Estate were celebrated worldwide. He sold the company in 2001 for $1.4 billion, then launched the Robert Oatley brand in the United States a year later. He and his family also purchased Australia’s Hamilton Island, launching a resort there that won Conde Nast Traveller's Best Resort in the World title.


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Though Oatley was a lifelong entrepreneur, sailing was his passion. As his fortune increased, small boats grew into Cup-contending yachts, starting with the inaugural Wild Oats, which he obtained in 2005. His 100-foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI took line honors in the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race eight times. A generous patron of sailing, Oatley was known for his strong support of the Australian Olympic sailing team.

According to The Associated Press, Oatley is survived by his wife, Valerie, and three children, Sandy, Ian and Ros.

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