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Nelson Bunker Hunt, Texas Oil Tycoon, Dies at 88

By    |   Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:58 AM

Eccentric Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, who made his fortune in oil and lost a good deal of it to silver, has died in Dallas at age 88.

Hunt had suffered from congestive heart failure, cancer and dementia,  The Dallas Morning News reported.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Hunt was worth no less than $16 billion.

An oil tycoon, he became famous for speculating on the price of silver and hoarding up to half the world's available supply, which he had bought on margin or paid for with borrowed money. In 1980 — before prices came crashing down — his silver holdings had a paper value of $7 billion.

A federal jury later ruled that he had conspired to corner the market, The New York Times  reported.

After the bubble burst, banks and the government had to intervene to stabilize markets and rescue brokers. Many small-time investors never recouped their loses.

Using lawyers and playing for time, Hunt was able to protect many of his own millions, while other money was shielded in trust funds left by his father, according to the Times.

Hunt was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, on Feb. 22, 1926, the second son to oil billionaire H.L. Hunt, who had three families — at the same time — and sired 15 children.

Nelson Bunker Hunt was a larger-than-life figure, buoyant and rotund. He attended Southern Methodist University and served in the Navy. An evangelical Christian, he did not smoke or drink alcohol, drove an old Cadillac and traveled economy class.

He funded searches for Noah's Ark, and his politics were decidedly right wing: He was suspicious of the federal government, contributed to the John Birch Society and shared its sentiments about communist and Jewish conspiracies, the Times reported.

He did oil business in Libya and Saudi Arabia, speculated on commodities and collected millions of dollars worth of ancient coins.

Hunt also owned tens of thousands of acres of farmland around the world.

His sister Caroline Rose Hunt said, "He was very smart, and he was willing to take a risk, because he could see the prospects of what it might make. I was fortunate enough to be invited by him to the Kentucky Derby and other big races. That was his love, horses," the Morning News reported.

He owned 1,000 horses in his heyday, according to the Times.

"The way you keep score in life, in business" is by making money, he said, the Morning News reported.

Hunt is survived by his wife, Caroline, whom he married in 1951, and his children, Betsy Curnes, Ellen Flowers, Mary Huddleston, and Houston Hunt.

Funeral services will take place Friday.

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Eccentric Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, who made his fortune in oil and lost a good deal of it to silver, has died in Dallas at age 88.
Nelson Hunt, obituary, texas, oil
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 06:58 AM
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