Chris Cline, the billionaire coal magnate and philanthropist who died in a helicopter crash in the Bahamas with his daughter and five other people, left behind a fortune.
How much was Chris Cline worth? The 60-year-old coal baron was worth almost $2 billion, and he made his riches through a moving story of working in coal mines as a teenager before creating a fortune in the industry himself.
He got his start working in coal mines at age 15, Forbes reports, and then “bet big in the early 2000s, buying up high-sulfur coal reserves in Illinois on a belief that new tech would make the dirty fuel cleaner to burn.” The cause of the helicopter crash, which occurred shortly after takeoff from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, was not yet clear.
Chris Cline’s Net Worth: $1.8 Billion
According to Forbes, Christopher Cline was worth an estimated $1.8 billion. Cline’s coal mining company went public in 2014, netting him $1.4 billion, and he opened a mine in Nova Scotia in 2017, according to Forbes.
Here’s what you need to know about Chris Cline’s net worth:
1. Cline Once Owned a Super Yacht Called ‘Mine Games’ & Was a Philanthropist
Forbes magazine reports that Cline used some of his money to buy a Lamborghini “and a 200-foot yacht called Mine Games.”
The site Super Yacht Fan says the Mine Games yacht was 203 feet long, could hold 12 guests in six cabins, could accommodate a crew of 14, was built in 2010, had a maximum speed of 16 knots, and cost a whopping $30 million. However, the site says the yacht was sold in 2018 and renamed.
The Palm Beach Daily News reported about the yacht being put on the market, writing that it was “opulent,” and noting, “Mine Games features a sleek exterior designed by Stefano Natucci and a chic Empire-style interior by Studio Massari.”
However, Cline didn’t just spend his fortune on toys for himself. He was also known for his charitable giving.
Although he dropped out of Marshall University, he was a major donor to the school. He was also a donor to West Virginia University, which released a statement saying, “West Virginia University joins the rest of the state in shock and mourning over the tragic death of Chris Cline, his daughter and five others Thursday in a helicopter crash. Cline has been a friend to higher education, significantly supporting both academic and athletic programs at West Virginia University and at Marshall. Many people have benefited from his generosity and support. We offer our condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Many tributes mentioned Chris Cline’s philanthropy.
Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky wrote on Twitter: “America lost a great man today. My family is heartbroken at the loss of our dear friend, Chris Cline. A brilliant businessman & one of the most generous people I have ever met. He came from humble beginnings & never forgot his roots. He loved America.”
West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins released a statement that said: “I am devastated by the loss of Chris Cline. A generous home state supporter who’s worked so hard for the YMCA in Beckley will be a lasting tribute to him. The most genuine person came out of the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ to achieve everything positive. This is a real loss of a loving father for his family, heart breaking for them and all of the state.”
2. Cline Owned Mansions & a Ranch in Several States
Chris Cline had accrued quite a property portfolio. According to Virtual Globetrotting, he owned a 33,413 square foot mansion in North Palm Beach.
According to Homes of the Rich.net, the Palm Beach mansion “offers a whopping 33,413 square feet of living space (17,074 a/c square feet) and features AMAZING details throughout including Venetian plaster walls, numerous balconies and balustrades, colonnaded porte-cochere, hand-painted murals and much more.”
Virtual Globetrotting reported that he also owned a mansion in Beckley, West Virginia, where he was from. “This property in his hometown of Beckley, WV is set on 150 acres and features a lake, a go-kart track and pastures for his horses, goats and llamas,” the site reports.
Chris Cline also owned a ranch in Wyoming. His brother, Greg Cline, told the Palm Beach Post that Cline and his two brothers “had been working to schedule a fly-fishing trip to Wyoming, where Chris Cline had a ranch.”
The ranch was accused of violating “a conservation easement by constructing a building,” according to WyoFile. The site says Cline purchased “the 5,500-acre Carney Ranch, a Sublette County landmark that had been listed for $20.5 million” and adds that “Deeds showed a divided interest going to trusts and naming Donald Holcomb, a trustee, Christopher L. Cline, Alex T. Cline, Candice L. Cline and Kameron N. Cline.”
Cline’s family remembered him as an “American original.”
“We are all so deeply saddened to announce the deaths of our beloved father Chris and our sister Kameron,” Cline’s family said in a statement. “This loss will be felt by all those who had the privilege of having known them. Chris was one of West Virginia’s strongest sons, an American original, full of grit, integrity, intelligence and humor, a testament that our hopes and dreams are achievable when we believe and commit ourselves to action. Our sister, Kameron was a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people. Their legacy of love and inspiration will live on through all of us. We love and miss them dearly but take comfort knowing they are with God now. We ask for prayers and privacy in our time of grieving.”
3. Cline Created Trusts for His Four Children & West Virginia’s Governor Wrote That He ‘Built an Empire’
Chris Cline’s first wife was named Sabrina, and she died of cancer in 1987. His second wife was named Kelly, and they were married from 1993 to 2000. In addition to Kameron Cline, he has a daughter named Candice Cline Kenan and two sons named Christopher and Alex. An obituary for Sabrina’s father indicates that only Candice was her daughter with Chris Cline.
Candice Cline’s name is now Candice Cline Kenan. On Facebook, she says that she “studied Real estate at University of Georgia,” “lives in Charleston, South Carolina,” and is from Beckley, West Virginia. At the time of her wedding, she was described as the director of a private foundation (she’s listed here as running the Cline Family Foundation.)
According to Forbes, Cline named one of his coal mines after his daughter, Candice.
A United States Securities and Exchange Commission document for Foresight Energy LP lists Cline’s children in referencing various trusts. It mentions Kameron N. Cline as being the recipient of a trust.
For starters, there was the Alex T. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, “the beneficiary of which is Alex T. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline,” and “The Candice Cline Kenan 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Candice Cline Kenan, a child of Mr. Cline.” The document says there is also a “Christopher L. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Christopher L. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline” and the “Kameron N. Cline 2017 Irrevocable Trust, the beneficiary of which is Kameron N. Cline, a child of Mr. Cline.”
Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia, where Cline was from, confirmed the news in a tweet, writing, “Today we lost a WV superstar and I lost a very close friend. Our families go back to the beginning of the Cline empire – Pioneer Fuel. Chris Cline built an empire and on every occasion was always there to give. What a wonderful, loving, and giving man.”
Cline’s younger daughter, Kameron, wrote on Facebook that she liked wakeboarding. She also wrote that she went to The Benjamin School, lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, and was from Beckley, West Virginia. She was a 2019 graduate of LSU and was in a sorority.
4. Cline Started More That 25 Coal Mining Facilities Throughout His Career
Chris Cline made his fortune in coal mining. His website bio explains, “Chris Cline is the founder of Foresight Energy. Mr. Cline has more than 35 years experience in the coal industry.”
According to the website, Cline began his career “as a contract miner in southern West Virginia, Mr. Cline has developed and operated over 25 coal mining, processing and transportation facilities in the Appalachian Region and the Illinois Basin, including some of the most productive long wall mining operations in the country. Today, Mr. Cline controls more than three billion tons of coal reserves in Illinois and Central Appalachia.”
The biography added that Cline “developed and/or operated over 25 coal mining, processing and transportation operations in the Appalachian Region and the Illinois Basin” and “Controls more than three billion tons of coal reserves in Illinois and Central Appalachia.”
5. Cline’s Helicopter Went Down Near a Group of Private Islands He Owned
The helicopter, according to AP, went down two miles from private islands that Cline owned called Big Grand Cay. Two of Kameron’s sorority sisters at LSU – Brittney Searson and Jillian Clark – died on the helicopter with her, according to NOLA.com and the Palm Beach Post.
The Herald-Dispatch named another of the victims as Delaney Wykle (Wykle, who studied at West Virginia University, is friends with the four Cline siblings on Facebook.)
Authorities have not formally released any victims’ names, though.
Specifically, the chopper went down near Walker’s Cay, Abaco, and is believed to have crashed shortly after taking off. Horrifically, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told the Register-Herald: “We’ve located the craft. It seems as if the seven passengers are still onboard so therefore submerged, but we can’t confirm anything yet.” Radar Online has now published photos showing bodies being removed from the crash site. You can see them here but be aware that they are disturbing, although they are covered.
Cline once dated Tiger Woods’ ex Elin Nordegren.
According to WPTV, the cause of the helicopter crash is not clear.
The crash was also confirmed by a Bahamian official, The Palm Beach Post reported. Bahamian Air Accident Investigation Department Chief Investigator Delvin Major said the helicopter crashed between Grand Cay and Fort Lauderdale, killing seven people on board, according to the newspaper, which added that a friend says the helicopter may have been traveling from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale because someone on board was ill.