Burning Man Project and former Black Rock Arts Foundation Director Chris Bently’s estranged
ex-wife has been found dead by a process server sent to deliver an eviction notice in her home town. The information we have is Mr Bently, whom the Bently Reserve (the converted Federal reserve building used for many Burning Man functions) is named after, is currently in London. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Amber Marie Bently.
GARDNERVILLE — Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the death of a San Francisco businesswoman, jewelry designer and socialite whose body was found last week in her Nevada apartment.
Authorities on Wednesday said Amber Marie Bently’s body was discovered Friday by a process server who went to deliver an eviction notice. No one had reported her missing and it appeared that she had been dead for several weeks, Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Pat Brooks said.
The two were active in the San Francisco social scene and enthusiasts of the annual Burning Man festival, held annually around Labor Day on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert north of Reno. About four years ago, the couple was featured as the “new kids on the block” on the San Francisco Social Diary website when they threw a pajama party at their posh Nob Hill penthouse.
Brooks said that there was no evidence of criminal activity or foul play. An autopsy didn’t pinpoint a cause of death and toxicology reports are pending — a process that could take six to eight weeks.
Deputies described Bently as Christopher Bently’s estranged wife and said she lived alone in the apartment in Gardnerville, a town of about 6,000 located 16 miles south of Carson City. The couple was married for at least 10 years, according to published reports. It’s unknown whether they had divorced.
The elder Bently founded Bently Scientific Co. in the garage of his Berkeley, Calif., home in 1956. He renamed it Bently Nevada Corp. and moved it to Minden in 1961. By the time he sold that company to GE Energy in 2002, the company had 2,000 employees worldwide and offices in 42 counties.
He founded other companies as well, including Bently Pressurized Bearing Co., Bently Agrowdynamics and Bently Biofuels. The Bently name is associated with expansive land holdings in Douglas County’s scenic Carson Valley.
The couple restored the former Federal Reserve Bank in downtown San Francisco and renamed it the Bently Reserve. In 2009, a collection of her jewelry designs was exhibited at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Christopher Bently also serves on the advisory board of the Black Rock Arts Foundation as well as the Burning Man Project.
Tomas McCabe, executive director Black Rock Arts Foundation, said foundation members were “devastated” to hear of Amber Bently’s death.
“She was a super, outgoing, very creative person,” he told the Associated Press by telephone. “She was always joyful. She made amazing jewelry and beautiful stuff.”
A man who answered the phone at Bently Holdings in Minden said the company would have no comment
We’ll be updating this story as more information comes in. One piece we have, still unconfirmed but certainly explicable, is that her dogs were also found dead at the scene. It appears the story broke this morning, but when found she had been dead for weeks. Here’s 5 Things You Need to Know :
San Fran Socialite Whose CEO Hubby Helped Run Burning Man Was Dead for WEEKS Before Being Discovered posted2 hours agoby Brad Michelson Heavy.com 1 Share (Getty Images) Amber Marie Bently, a 35-year-old San Francisco socialite and jewelry designer, has been found dead in an apartment in Gardnerville, Nevada. Here’s what you should know.
1. She Appeared To Have Been Dead For Several Weeks (Getty)
According to a KTVU report, Amber’s body was discovered in an apartment in Gardnerville, Nevada, on Friday (July 19) by a process server who went to deliver an eviction notice at an apartment on High School Street. It is not clear is the eviction notice was for her or for a neighbor nearby. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department said it appeared she had been dead for several weeks. She was not reported missing. Amber lived alone in the apartment.
2. The Autopsy Was Inconclusive (Getty)
According to Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Pat Brooks, “There was no evidence of criminal activity or foul play.” He also said that the autopsy was inconclusive on the cause of death. Toxicology reports are pending.
3. She Was Married to the CEO of Bently Holdings (Image courtesy of http://bentlyholdings.com/) Amber Marie Bently was married to Christopher Bently, CEO of the sustainable development company Bently Holdings. According to his bio on the company website, “He is an avid environmentalist who insists on nothing less than exemplary green operating fundamentals in every one of Bently Holdings’s properties.” The company has not made a comment on Amber’s passing.
4. Amber Marie Bently Was A Jewelry Designer (Image courtesy of http://bentlyholdings.com/) One of Amber’s claims to fame was her high-end jewelry that she often sold at big events in San Francisco. Prices for her hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces ranged from $500 to $6,500. In 2009, a collection of her jewelry designs was exhibited at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The website for Amber’s jewelry has been taken down.
5. The Bently Couple Were Burning Man Enthusiasts (Image courtesy of Facebook) The couple were enthusiasts for the Burning Man music festival that takes place annually in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. They love it so much that Christopher Bently serves on the board of directors of the Burning Man Project, which is responsible for upholding the values described in the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Although the couple were not living with each other at the time of Amber’s death, it is unclear whether they were divorced.
She was found dead last Friday:
On Friday, 07/19/13, at approximately 4:30 pm, Investigators of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to an apartment in the 1200 block of High School St, in Gardnerville, reference a death investigation.
Information revealed that a civil process server had gone to the location to serve an eviction, and had discovered a deceased person inside the residence.
The decedent, later identified as 34 year-old Amber Marie Bently, rented and resided alone in the apartment. It appears Bently was deceased inside the apartment for several weeks.
No evidence of criminal activity or foul play was discovered. Cause of death is pending.
The investigation continues.
Here’s a link to their 2009 Pyjama Party, their debut on the Nob Hill scene. They wanted to throw a party to blend their society friends together with their Burner friends, and Pyjamas seemed like a common denominator:
|New kids on the block, Amber Marie and Chris Bently, threw an old fashioned pajama party for their eclectic friends, who all flipped over the 360 degree views of the city and the bay from their two-story Nob Hill Penthouse.Already married for 10 years (she’s barely 30 while he’s only 38) the enthusiastic duo participate in a myriad of civic, social, charitable, and business ventures around town.In the last few years, this real estate family has restored the former Federal Reserve Bank, now named the Bently Reserve, and converted it to office, retail, conference and event spaces. They’ve also opened Kamalaspa in downtown Union Square.|
Lounging in our PJs
|Three years ago the Bentlys went to their first Burning Man, a week long art event at Black Rock City in the Nevada desert. Perhaps the ultimate in performance art, more than 50,000 set up camp; all with the idea to express themselves through art, dress, actions, whatever. Having just watch the Burning man CD I realized this is a real happening!The Bentlys wanted to throw a party to blend their Burning Man art friends with their society friends. They decided that PJ party was just the ticket to relax so many who were strangers.Everyone seemed to get into the act. I must admit, it was fun and a lot less risqué than I imagined, thank goodness. And this artsy crowd lived up to expectations, no two dressed alike. PJs covered the gamut from Brooks Brothers and flannels to oriental robes and black negligees.|
|Partito Tequila was a featured favorite, shots or margaritas, accompanied by mounds of caviar, an oyster bar, soup shooters and cheese trays to keep everyone happy, while the DJ played into the night.One young guest said about the Burning Man scene, “I really like this … I missed the 70s, it’s like another era, a walk on wild side, with a mix of people from every strata and the common denominator is pajamas.”On the way home, I thought it was hilarious seeing guests trotting around Nob Hill in their jammies. I wonder what the neighbors were thinking – welcome to the neighborhood.|
A bio on Mrs Bently from a Fashion show she did with her jewellery line:
Amber Marie Bently launched her eponymous collection of couture jewelry after immersing herself in the fine art of jewelry craftsmanship at the renowned Revere Academy in San Francisco. Her dedication to forwarding environmental conservation and sustainable style inspired her to create jewelry handcrafted from 18 karat recycled gold and responsibly sourced gemstones. Her environmentalism, global travel, and lifelong interest in Eastern history and culture have together influenced her design of one-of-a-kind pieces that are unique in today’s marketplace. She has traveled extensively throughout India, and draws many of her design ideas from these experiences.
Amber Marie is a well-known contributor to conservation causes, serving on the board of nonprofit environmental organizations such as Global Green USA, Forest Ethics, and PRBO Conservation Science. She is a San Francisco style icon often featured on the red carpet of the city’s galas, and actively promotes green fashion among San Francisco’s style leaders.
An interview with the couple from 2007, when they opened a spa in Union Square:
[Update 2:34am PST 7/25/13 - Daily Mail UK has some new details. Another fact first posted at Burners.Me turns out to be true, Chris Bently is in London. Not sure if he spoke with the Daily Mail directly. It is so sad that no-one found this girl for so long, just an absolute tragedy]
A cause of death has not yet been determined and the results of a toxicology test could take up to eight weeks to arrive.
Douglas County Sheriff’s office said Mrs Bently had been living alone in the apartment where her body was found in Gardnerville, outside Carson City.
Mrs Bently, who had separated from her husband last year after being married for about ten years, was well known for her parties and the couple’s building renovations in San Francisco.
The couple, who supported environmental charities, also supported the Burning Man arts festival, which is held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, near Reno.
After they separated last year Mrs Bently swapped their Nob Hill penthouse and Stinson Beach home for a place in Sausalito before moving to an apartment in Gardnerville, where she had been raised, according to SF Gate.
Mr Bently, who is currently in London, said they had not divorced and described his wife as ‘a wonderful human being who contributed so much to San Francisco’.
He added: ‘She was greatly loved by family and friends, and we feel her loss deeply.’
So, here’s the key facts:
they were still legally married, they separated in 2012 but had not yet completed the divorce process, she had a Court Date in Marin County pending next week, relating to legal fees. She had been living alone in a rented apartment, she was about to be evicted in the town she grew up in, estranged in rural Nevada from so many friends and family that no-one found her body for 3 weeks. Meanwhile, her Mom was actively trying to have her committed to a mental instititution. When the body was found, her
ex-husband was in London. She had not been reported missing – although someone claiming to be a family member on the New York Daily News, says that the family was looking for her (after they had her committed to a mental institution) that they had hired a private investigator...
Those are the essential facts compiled from what the press coverage from mainstream publications says. We are not inferring anything or drawing any opinions, please make up your own mind about this. To me, this just seems like a tragic situation – and, one wonders if there are any other Burners out there right now, so alone that they could die right after Juplaya and not be found or rmissed until the end of the month.
It sounds like Gardnerville is a fairly remote part of one of the most remote states. 20 miles from the tiny town of South Lake Tahoe, 16 miles south of the tinier town of Carson City. 50 miles from the second biggest city in Nevada, the booming metropolis of Reno. The press story is spreading around the world, but each one seems to have the same information…we’ve been working on it to bring you anything fresh, I think the Daily Mail got a direct interview with Mr Bently.
I’ve been to Carson City, it doesn’t seem like the place where this type of thing occurs. Although I was amazed at the size of the RV storage facility, right next to the prison. We’ve told some stories on this blog before that suggest it is still the Wild, Wild West out there in some parts of Nevada.
It also seems like Mrs Bently went out of her way to apply her creative energies towards positive causes, having been inspired by Burning Man:
In a sign of her generous nature to environmental charities, in September 2007, Mrs Bently flew Tippi Hedren to San Francisco for a fundraising event. A portion of the money raised by selling Mrs Bently’s hand-crafted jewellery was donated to the actress’s Roar Foundation.
The designer created her gold pieces, inset with crystals and stones, in the basement of their Nob Hill home.
She told SF Luxe in 2007 that her interest in design had come about after she made bead necklaces with her husband to wear at the Burning Man festival.
‘We kept going back to the bead store, and I kept making jewellery. And finally I’m like “I’ve got to start selling these because I have too much,’ she said.
Mrs Bently added that she was drawn to the healing properties of rocks, adding: ‘I wear a lot of rubies because I feel in balancing the chakras you are more creative and you are more open to a creative outlook.’
Her one-off jewellery pieces, which she sold in stores and at charity functions in San Francisco, reached prices of between $500 to $6,500, according to Heavy.com.
As well as environmental charities, Mrs Bently supported the Dress for Success program that helps provide women with suitable outfits to wear for job interviews in 2008, according to the San Francisco Sentinel.
…The couple’s love of art and spirituality led them on several trips to India, Indonesia and Thailand. After returning from one trip, where she learned about the Ayurveda healing practices, Mrs Bently opened a spa in the city.
[update 7/25/13 4:20 pm]
The family have made some comments in the New York Daily News:
I am her family member, and I have been directly involved in this entire process. Her husband has dealt directly with the family and has been nothing but supportive and gracious. I will not go into the details, but she was most definitely extremely mentally ill, and refused to stay medicated. Chris and Amber were VERY private about her mental illness, and family was not notified of the REAL issue until much too late. He did the best he could, and loved her so very much…
She had private investigators looking for her, was reported missing, and no one knew where she was. A guardianship was being pursued by her mother and we all just assumed she was avoiding her family because she was a. delusional, and b. furious with everyone for having her committed. She had been going from apartment to apartment for months. She had been in 3 mental hospitals in the last year. The situation is not quite what the press is making it appear to be. I personally had phone calls from investigators asking about her whereabouts. EVERYONE missed her and was looking for her, but under the assumption she was avoiding all of us, because she WAS. She was convinced the world was ending and that people were after her, including the government. It’s a sad situation, indeed….
There were, in fact, missing person reports filed on her. She had a severe mental illness and was resistant to treatment for years. She had been trying to evade family members for months due to her delusions. She had been committed by her family twice. If the blame lies anywhere, it’s in the mental health system, for releasing a person who has a history of self-destructive and dangerous behavior. Her family was pursuing a guardianship and had private investigators looking for her. I know her personally and she was a lovely person and her presence was infectious. She was truly one-of-a-kind, and the very thing that made her amazing was also her downfall.
It’s unclear what the relationship was between this commenter “CLAMATO11″ and Mrs Bently, but their information seems to differ from the reported account. The information offered here by alleged family member CLEMOTO11, is – the family knew she was missing, the situation was so severe that they actually had to hire a private investigator to hunt for her whereabouts; when they did know where she was, she resisted the mental treatment they wanted to impose on her. She was convinced that people were after her. She was in the midst of a separation or divorce from a wealthy heir whose own father had passed away at the end of 2012. She moved back to her home town, and yet her mother instead of embracing her, was pursuing a guardianship. Whoever was supposed to be looking after her, didn’t check on her for weeks.
One commenter raised the issue of “gang-stalking”, and organized harassment to create the appearance of mental illness. This seems reminiscent of BMOrg’s “shunning” tactic.
Bently Holdings issues statement
The Silver Sage apartment complex at 1243 High School Street where the body was found was listed for sale a year ago.
The Examiner has a heartfelt eulogy from a friend:
Today, the city of San Francisco, family, friends are grieving the loss of a true philanthropist, environmentalist, talented artist and friend.
We knew Amber Marie Bently and are sharing their pain.
She was blessed with a caring heart. Helping the less fortunate and fighting for causes dear to her heart was Amber’s true passion.
Amber was a passionate environmentalist and her efforts to preserve Mother Nature and our planet are commendable.
Her relentless commitment to environmental organizations such as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and Global Green’s “Gorgeous & Green” galas made her a leading San Francisco ambassador of the green movement.
Amber Marie also designed eye catching high end sustainable jewelry. They were made of 100 percent recycled 18-karat gold and precious stones from green mines that emphasize ethical treatment of miners and reforesting used land.
She proved to all that you do not need to sacrifice beauty in order to be green. The pieces she created spoke of love and her passion for sustainability. Most of her collections helped raise money for various charities she believed in.
She was known on the San Francisco social scene for her one of a kind elegance and innocent beauty.
A LED-enhanced light-up dress by Fiuka that she wore to the San Francisco Opera Gala in 2010 was featured in many magazines and symbolizes her commitment to green fashion.
Our tribute to Amber:
As we reflect upon your life and the way you respected Mother Nature we would like to dedicate this poem to you:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
I mean-the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
by Mary Oliver
” I wish for the world to remember the sweet, wonderful soul she was,”shares heartbroken Christopher Bently her husband.
Sadly enough, there are many inaccurate posts surrounding her sudden death. We know that the people who were close to her will not pay attention to these posts, but remember her candor, joyful spirit and dedication to the green movement.
We feel Amber’s loss deeply. Her gentle face and her beautiful piercing brown eyes will be sorely missed.
Amber, you will remain in our hearts always. Your dedicated green passion shall continue to impact our world. Thank you for touching our lives.
Amber Marie Bently was due to appear in court next week in Marin County, a motion seeking recovery of Attorney’s Fees.
Her family “all just assumed she was avoiding us”…and yet, her body was found in the tiny, 6000 person Nevada town that she grew up in, and her Mother lived in. Her mother was trying to get her committed to a mental institution.
[update 7/26/13 4:42pm]
The SF Chronicle has interviewed Amber’s brother.
Her brother, Arik Barnett, 30, a software engineer from San Luis Obispo, said he had handled his sister’s admissions to several hospitals during the past year. She refused to accept the diagnosis, resisted treatment and hid the diagnosis from others, he said.
“Amber was sick and paranoid,” Barnett said. “It wasn’t her, the last six months of her life, which is why she may have said and done cruel things to people. She was convinced she had a sleeping problem.”
But Michelene Insalaco, an attorney representing Amber Marie Bently in her divorce, said that in November, Bently “was doing fine.”
Insalaco said Bently told her she was afraid of her husband. Insalaco also said several missing-persons reports had been filed in recent months when Bently dropped out of sight.
Sausalito Police Sgt. Steve Veveiros confirmed that officers went to Bently’s address at 21 Sunshine Ave. on April 3 to check on her after one of her lawyers filed a report saying Bently had not been seen since March 15. Officers found an eviction notice on the door and, inside, a phone number for Bently’s mother, whom police contacted in Gardnerville.
Bently’s mother told police her daughter had shown up on March 18 in Minden, Nev., at one of her late father-in-law’s businesses, the Bently Pressurized Bearing Co., and that a security guard shooed Bently away. On April 8, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies located Bently at the same business and took her to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation, Veveiros said.