Philanthropist Neil Balnaves dies in boating accident aboard luxury yacht

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President Neil Balnaves

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Neil Balnaves, a prominent Australian television executive and philanthropist, has died. He was 77 years old.

australia ABC Affiliate reports that Balnaves died in an accident off Tahiti while aboard the luxury residential yacht The World.

According to Australian Financial Reviewthe accident happened on Monday.

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Balnaves’ death comes 20 years after he suffered another serious boating accident, an event that changed the course of his life.

“I ended up having a pretty shocking accident in my late 50s,” he told ABC Australia’s Michael Cathcart in 2013. “It was a boating accident that really flattened me and I took a year to recover.”

The outlet reports that due to Balnaves’ constant pain and inability to travel following the first accident, he sold his television production business and used the considerable earnings to pursue philanthropy.

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“What was I going to do with it? There was this pretty weird stage where you think a bigger boat would be nice, or a plane would be nice, or a bigger house,” he said. he stated in 2013.”[But] it was pretty wrong, and then it gave birth to the [Balnaves] Foundation. I really came to the conclusion…that it was good to give back to the country something that was good to me.”

According to his websitethe Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation that distributes “over $3 million a year to eligible organizations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts, with an emphasis on on the young, the underprivileged and the natives”.

ABC reports that the foundation, established in 2006, has donated more than $40 million over its 15-year history.

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Details were not immediately available on how Balnaves – who was active in the Australian television industry between 1975 and 1986 – died aboard The World this week.

According to his websiteThe World is “the largest private residential yacht in the world”.

Launched in 2002, The World caters to resident entrepreneurs and philanthropists, who own the 165 separate luxury accommodations on board.

PEOPLE have contacted representatives of The World regarding the Balnaves accident.

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