Hours before troubled millionaire philanthropist Guma Aguiar vanished from his boat, according to his mother's lawyer, his wife told him she wanted a divorce.
"I'm of the belief that that's what pushed him over the deep end," attorney Richard Baron told ABCNews.com. "He loved his wife. He did not want a divorce."
The allegation comes in the the thick of a legal battle between Aguiar's mother Ellen and wife Jamie to control his $100 million estate in the wake of his mysterious disappearance. The oil tycoon hasn't been spotted since surveillance footage captured him heading out in rough Florida waters last Tuesday night in his fishing boat, which washed up without him Wednesday morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach with its lights on and engine running.
Aguiar, 35, suffers from severe bipolar disorder, according to court documents. Friends say he has been even more troubled than usual lately, burdened by lawsuits between Aguiar and an uncle with whom he started a Texas energy company that reportedly sold for $2.5 billion in 2006.
"I just stare at those [surveillance] pictures of him on that boat and can't help but be struck by the symbolism of him on a vessel by himself in rocky seas, fighting a world that he probably felt like was crashing down on him," said family friend Wes Shelton.
Records show Aguiar's personal life had some rocky moments, from hospitalization for mental illness to two misdemeanor drug charges. His wife filed a domestic violence order against him last summer, after which Aguiar filed a divorce petition. Both were voluntarily dismissed, and ABC reports an emergency guardian was appointed for Aguiar after his wife and mother jointly petitioned a court.
Aguiar has been seeking mental health treatment, and friends told the AP that his wife, who married Aguiar before he made his fortune, has been trying to create a peaceful home life to ease his mind. The couple have four children under the age of 7.
"That was all Jamie wanted for him," said Shelton. "I think Jamie was really hopeful that the old Guma would come back."
Drama surrounding the family deepened when on the day after his boat was found, Ellen Aguiar filed to an emergency petition to control her son's estate, which includes $35 million in real estate in Israel, $15 million in cash, a $5 million home, a $2.1 million yacht, and seven cars worth $1 million, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Before Jamie Aguiar filed her own petition in return, her attorney sharply criticized her mother-in-law for moving to control the estate even before the Coast Guard search was called off.
"She files motions in courts trying to take over everything while the divers are still out looking for Guma's body," said attorney Bill Scherer. "It's bizarre."
Ellen Aguiar reportedly filed amended documents Monday, prompted by backlash from her daughter-in-law, to ask that a third-party money management company be appointed to control Aguiar's estate instead of herself. Her court filings allege Jamie Aguiar has suspended operations of an Israeli basketball team owned by her husband and fired his company's CFO.
"I'm hoping he's alive," Baron told ABCNews.com. "I'm hoping he does get divorced. [Jamie has] shown her true colors."
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