One of Australia’s legendary hotel industry figures and richest men passed away from illness yesterday, aged 87.

Robert ‘Bob’ Oatley was founder of the legendary Rosemount Estate Wines, sold in 2001 for $1.4 billion. In 2003 he purchased Hamilton Island for $200 million out of receivership, and invested $300 million in rebuilding it as an institutional Australian holiday destination that now sees revenue of $250 million annually.

He was also recently known for being the owner of record-breaking yacht Wild Oats XI, and was estimated by Forbes at having a net worth of approximately $910 million, making him Australia’s 34th-richest man.

In 2014 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, for his contributions to tourism and the wine industry.

The family issued a statement announcing the patriarch’s passing.

“Known affectionately as Bob, he was a proud and passionate Australian recognised for his outstanding contributions to the Australian wine, tourism, coffee, sailing and thoroughbred horse industries.

“Bob was also well-recognised as a philanthropist who supported Australian Olympic activities, medical research and the arts.”

The AHA NSW reports already receiving messages of condolence from fellow hoteliers, and President Scott Leach has paid tribute to his achievements over many years.

“All hoteliers have lost a friend today.

“Bob Oatley made a defining contribution to hospitality and tourism in this country over decades.

“He was a man of vision who had the courage of his convictions, which were underpinned by his spirit of philanthropy and love of Australia and his family.

“On behalf of the industry I extend our condolences to the Oatley family.”

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