Vale Philanthropist & Entrepreneur Robert Oatley
12 January 2016 at 9:00 am
Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert “Bob” Oatley AO has died at the age of 87.
The winemaker, businessman, philanthropist, and well known owner and sailor of Wild Oats XI, the eight-time winner of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, Oatley died at the weekend.
A statement from his family said that Oatley was a proud and passionate Australian who was recognised for his outstanding contributions to the Australian wine, tourism, coffee, sailing and thoroughbred horse industries as well as for his philanthropy.
“Bob was also well-recognised as a philanthropist who supported Australian Olympic activities, medical research and the arts,” the statement said.
In 2014 Oatley was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the Australian wine and tourism industries, to the sport of yacht racing, and to the community as a supporter of medical research and visual arts organisations.
At the time Oatley said he was exceptionally humbled by the recognition.
“To share my passions of wine, sailing and Hamilton Island, as well as my good fortunes to aid cancer research and visual arts with the people of Australia, gives me immense pleasure and pride,” Oatley said.
“I am a proud Australian, so to be awarded the Order of Australia is a great honour.”
His philanthropic endeavours included donating funds to cancer research and the donation of a portrait of Captain Cook to the Portrait Gallery in Canberra.
The Federal Minister for the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, said Oatley would be remembered for his passion for winemaking and sailing and also as a generous contributor to the arts.
“As a founding benefactor of the National Portrait Gallery, Mr Oatley contributed generously,” Fifield said.
“His support enabled the National Portrait Gallery to secure the landmark 'Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, 1782' by John Webber, and other works associated with Captain Cook. The portrait is displayed in a gallery named in honour of Mr Oatley.”
CEO of Philanthropy Australia, Sarah Davies, added her condolences and praise for Oatley’s philanthropy.
“Like many Australians we were saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Oatley AO,” Davies said.
“He provided a great example of how giving your time, your expertise, your passion, as well as money to a cause can have a lasting and positive impact for the community.”
Bob Oatley is survived by his wife Valerie, his three children, Sandy, Ian and Ros, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.