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William Ingraham "Bill" Koch (//; born May 3, 1940) is an American businessman, sailor, and collector. His boat was the winner of the America's Cup in 1992. Forbes estimated William Koch's net worth was $4.0 billion in March 2012 from oil and other investments.
William Ingraham Koch is the son of Mary (née Robinson) and Fred Chase Koch, founder of Koch Industries, a business empire based on oil refining that became the second largest privately owned company in America. His paternal grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper and was a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway. He attended Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana, and worked in his family's company, but eventually sold his share to his brothers, Charles and David, after a long legal battle.
Various legal disputes between the brothers lasted some two decades. Bill and another brother, Frederick R. Koch, sided with J. Howard Marshall III, J. Howard Marshall II's eldest son, against Charles and David at one point, in order to take over the company. In 2001, Bill Koch reached a settlement in a case where he had charged the company was taking oil from federal and Indian land. This settlement ended all litigation between the brothers. CBS News reported that Koch Industries settled for $25 million, and Bill received one-third of the settlement for bringing the suit.
An engineer by training, Koch graduated with a bachelors of science, master's, and doctoral degree in chemical engineering all from MIT. After leaving Koch Industries, he became the founder and president of the Oxbow Group, an energy development holding company based in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2011, Oxbow donated $750,000 to Restore Our Future, Inc., the "superpac" supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Koch was also an investor in the ill-fated Kendall Square Research.
Koch also co-chairs the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group formed to fight the Cape Wind project to build an offshore wind farm of 130 turbines. He became involved due to his ownership of a home in Osterville, Massachusetts. In 2005, Koch contributed $500,000 in donations to the alliance directly and more than $1 million toward lobbyist efforts to defeat the project.
Koch won the America's Cup in 1992 with the yacht America³, defeating an Italian team four races to one. Its overall record including trials was 28-10. Koch reportedly spent around $65 million on his effort and though an amateur, sailed on the crew himself, assisted by veteran sailors like Buddy Melges.
In 1995, he financed another team to compete for the cup. This time the crew consisted entirely of women except for tactician David Dellenbaugh, on a yacht named Mighty Mary. However, the boat lost to Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes in the trials.
Koch was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993.
Koch is an avid collector of art and wine, and especially of maritime memorabilia. He is currently engaged in litigation with regard to his purchase at auction of wines claimed to be originally owned by Thomas Jefferson and which Koch now asserts those claims were fraudulent. Additionally, Koch was a victim of the alleged Rudy Kurniawan fraud, having purchased five bottles of Kurniawan's wine through Acker, Merrall & Condit in 2005 and 2006; Koch sued Kurniawan in 2009.
His collection of maritime memorabilia includes model ships, antique nautical instruments, and paintings of ships and seascapes. A 2005 show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston featured his various collections, including both the America³ and the ship it defeated, Il Moro di Venezia, displayed on the front lawn. (Koch had bought Il Moro after the competition.) The show was also criticized, however, for glamorizing Koch at the expense of the museum's educational function. Koch had helped finance the show, including paying the cost to move the boats from Rhode Island. He previously owned the former French Class America F1 - IACC F1 renamed later USA-2.
The boats were in Rhode Island because Koch had placed them with a small maritime museum there. Despite the considerable expense of building them, he said "they have absolutely no value" once their racing life is over. Koch, a native of Wichita, Kansas, donated the ship he used in qualifying for the America's Cup races, The Jayhawk, to the Wichita Boathouse. He also supplied money for the city to use in repairing the yacht.
On June 26, 2011, he purchased a 130-year-old photo of the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid for the amount of $2.1 million at a Denver auction. It is currently the only authenticated photo of the outlaw known to exist.
Koch's personal life has also received public attention. In 1994 Koch married Joan Granlund, with whom he had a son, Wyatt. In 1995, he filed a lawsuit against his former lover, Catherine de Castelbajac, to evict her from his $2.5 million condominium at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. He said he had allowed her to move in the previous year so she could attend Simmons College, as he seldom used the apartment. When he tried to end the relationship, de Castelbajac refused to move out and claimed he had broken his promises to her. A jury ruled in Koch's favor after a trial noted for its disclosure of torrid letters and faxes between the two.
A complaint by Koch's subsequent wife, Angela, led to his arrest in 2000 based on allegations of domestic violence. The charge was dropped after Angela refused to testify, and the couple later divorced. Koch's third marriage in 2005 was to Bridget Rooney, granddaughter of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. By this time, Koch had fully reconciled with his brother, David, who served as best man.
Koch donated $1.5 million to Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Its goal is to prevent the construction of Cape Wind, a wind power project located in Nantucket Sound, near Koch's Cape Cod house.
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