But for some reason, that story isn't enough for the public and those who knew Aguiar. It seems too mundane, too accidental, for a man who moved as strongly as Aguiar. Maybe he was murdered. Maybe he was kidnapped. Maybe he committed suicide. Maybe he was picked up by some mysterious accomplice. His body has not been found, and police continue to treat the case as an open missing-person investigation.

"There was a time when I was really hoping that he was here, in a hotel somewhere in Fort Lauderdale, just watching the show," says Levine.

"I don't know what happened out there. But I will hope like mad," says John Amoruso, the geologist.

Guma Aguiar
Courtesy of Jerry Levine
Guma Aguiar
Guma Aguiar visited the gas chambers at Auschwitz in July 2009 with Tovia Singer, the rabbi who influenced his conversion to Judaism.
Courtesy of Tovia Singer
Guma Aguiar visited the gas chambers at Auschwitz in July 2009 with Tovia Singer, the rabbi who influenced his conversion to Judaism.

"He had every incentive to get away," says Rabbi Tovia Singer.

"I would love to see Guma in the South of France, living the good life. Just leaning back, letting life come to him a little bit," says Gary Kesl, the tennis coach.

"I believe very strongly that his soul is at peace," says Rabbi Lipszyc. "I believe that he's been released from all these tests that he had. I hope and pray that wherever he is, he's OK — and not torturing himself."

The recovered boat showed no signs of a struggle, but there were indications of what might have happened onboard. He had removed the keys and wallet from his pockets. But investigators would find one other thing on the boat: a Jewish tefillin, or collection of scrolls to be worn close to the body during morning prayer. These ancient, leather-bound words of the Torah, which are never allowed to touch the ground, accompanied Guma as he sped away into the ocean, heading toward the horizon under darkening skies, the lights of Fort Lauderdale receding in his wake.

He clearly planned something big that night. We may never know what.

News reports since his disappearance have centered on the legal dispute over his remaining fortune, which has been claimed by his uncle, mother, and wife. Ellen Aguiar moved to take control of his assets immediately after he was reported missing, and Jamie fought back. Attorneys began to tie up the various credit cards and accounts through which Aguiar had diffused his money and enthusiasm in Jerusalem. The bulk of his money — Guma's fortune is roughly $100 million, according to his mother — is currently under the control of two court-appointed conservators — big-shot lawyer Tom Panza and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who is also an attorney.

It's unknown what will become of Aguiar's empire. His wife, Jamie, put their house on the market and tried to keep her and her children's names out of the papers. Each tense hearing between mother and wife draws spectators, looking for something like an answer to the disappearance of a bigger-than-life philanthropist.

Even the Sun-Sentinel, which has diligently revealed new developments in the court cases, has pondered the possibility that Aguiar escaped. "If Aguiar disappeared on purpose, he may want to note that many have tried in Florida, and most have failed," the paper wrote. Aguiar's bank statements, his family, his legacy — everything is in a mess. In a world like this, his final act looks almost like perfection.

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