April 24 (Bloomberg) -- B. Robert Williamson Jr., a money manager at Chilton Investment Co. and nephew of hedge-fund pioneer Julian Robertson, for whom he once worked, has died during a visit to his native North Carolina. He was 55.
His body was found April 22 in a car pulled from the Intracoastal Waterway near a boat ramp on Figure Eight Island. The private island, east of Wilmington, was inhabited by wild ponies before becoming a vacation locale for privacy seekers such as former Vice President Al Gore and actors Richard Gere and Kim Basinger, according to the Washington Post.
Williamson was last seen at 2 a.m. leaving a family function for a half-mile drive to the house where he was staying, said Deputy J.L. Augst. The spot where Williamson’s car left the road is just past the house, Augst said. No foul play is suspected, and the investigation is continuing.
A resident of Manhattan, Williamson never lost touch with his southern roots, hosting Christmas parties with his wife, Caroline, at which “southern accents predominated,” according to an obituary written by the family.
At Chilton, a Stamford, Connecticut-based investment management firm, Williamson was a manager of the $54 million U.S. Hedged Equities fund.
“Robert was a dear friend, and he will be missed,” the firm said in a statement. “His curiosity, enthusiasm, intellect, and passion for stock picking were gifts he shared with all who knew him.”
He joined Chilton in January 2011, one month after the hedge fund he co-founded, Williamson McAree Investment Partners of New York City, closed. The firm’s flagship fund was down 9.7 percent in the first 11 months of 2010 after returning a net annualized return of 9.8 percent since its inception. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index returned 7.9 percent in 2010 through November.
Williamson and co-founder Edward McAree said in a Dec. 3, 2010, letter to clients that several large investors had recently chosen to redeem their money.
“Unfortunately, the combination of recent negative performance and the continuing trend of investors moving towards larger, more institutional management firms, proved too much to overcome,” they wrote.
Williamson was a managing director from 1998 to 2000 at Tiger Management LLC, the hedge fund run by Robertson, his billionaire uncle. Williamson was the son of Robertson’s sister, Blanche Bacon, Robertson’s assistant, Julie Depperschmidt, said today. He also was a step-brother of Louis Bacon, founder of New York-based Moore Capital Management LLC.
Before working at Tiger, Williamson spent 15 years at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where he managed about 100 discretionary client portfolios, according to his biography on Chilton’s website.
Benjamin Robert Williamson Jr. was born on Sept. 18, 1956, in Raleigh. His interest in business traced to his preteen years, when he created a rabbit farm, his family wrote.
He attended Ravenscroft preparatory school, which awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. As a senior he received most valuable player awards for basketball and football, and he was inducted into the school’s sports hall of fame.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979 with a degree in business administration. After two years at Sonoco Products Co., a paper products company in Hartsville, South Carolina, he earned his master’s degree in business administration from Wake Forest University in 1983, according to the obituary.
With his wife of 24 years, Caroline Crook Williamson, he had three children: Caroline Costner, 20; Benjamin Robert III, 18; Wyndham Josephine, 13.
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