Saba Rock owner dies in Alaskan helicopter crash
Petr Kellner was someone who knew the value of a simple glass of cold water.
“I remember he brought a container of ice after the hurricanes,” recalls Virgin Gorda resident Sharon Flax-Brutus on Monday. “We were so grateful that he thought about the importance of a glass of cold water.”
Mr Kellner was one of five people who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday on a ski trip to Alaska. The 56-year-old Czech billionaire owned Saba Rock Resort and Sugarcane restaurant in Nail Bay, among other investments in the territory.
With a net worth of around $ 15.7 billion, he was the richest person in the Czech Republic and the only person from his country to appear on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Mr. Kellner was born in 1964 in what was then Czechoslovakia, according to Bloomberg. He studied economics and worked as a salesperson for an office equipment distributor shortly after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. When the state began selling assets such as industrial companies and refineries, he formed a holding company called PPF Group NV in 1991 and eventually acquired stakes in 202 companies.
He looks forward to retiring to the Virgin Islands, according to Natural Resources, Labor and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley, who represents Virgin Gorda.
“I held Mr. Kellner in high regard because he not only spoke of his love for these islands, but also demonstrated it in deed, without fanfare,” Wheatley said Tuesday. “He was looking forward to retiring to the Virgin Islands at some point and making the [VI] his permanent residence.
It is his humility, generosity and love for the land that people will remember most, according to Ms Flax-Brutus, Mr Wheatley and Mr Kellner’s longtime business partner and friend, Doug Riegels.
“I just remember how much he helped us after the storm,” Ms. Flax-Brutus said. “He did it with a feeling of grace and humanity. He was good with all his heart.
She added that Mr Kellner donated generators and contributed to unemployment after the hurricanes of 2017. He was a good businessman who took care of his employees and cherished time with family, he said. she adds.
“He was a really good person inside and out,” recalls Ms. Flax-Brutus.
Mr. Riegels said Mr. Kellner was a major benefactor to the territory who often made large donations without drawing attention to himself.
He added that business operations would likely continue as normal in Saba Rock and Sugarcane, but decisions to make large donations would be more “corporate” in the future.
“[Mr. Kellner] was enthusiastically investing in many companies here and wanted to get involved in education, ”Mr. Riegels said. “He was one of the real guys: when he said he loved this place, he meant it unconditionally.
For Mr. Kellner’s business interests in the VI, he added, “It’s back to square one for now.”
But he said Mr. Kellner’s business partners will have a better sense of direction by next week.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Kellner’s friends hosted a private tribute at the Sugarcane restaurant.