Martin’s lifeless body was discovered by a kayaker, floating in the waters of the Great Sound near Agar’s Island on Monday evening. On Tuesday, Bermuda police formally identified his body, and have since confirmed that his death is not viewed as suspicious.
The island was owned by Martin, who bought it in 1997 along with his third wife Lillian.
The English-born multi-millionaire, who was seventy-nine years old when he died, was a globally renowned speaker and expert on the computer revolution. He amassed his fortune from his many books, one of which, ‘The Wired Society: A Challenge for Tomorrow’, was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.
Martin has a degree in physics from Oxford’s Keble College. After graduating, he went on to set up several IT consultancy firms and became the biggest ever private donor to the university. In 2005, he gave £65 million to Oxford to set up a school to study the problems of the 21st century.
The idea for what became the Oxford Martin School was inspired by the events of 9/11, with Martin telling the Independent in 2011 that he was “getting more and more concerned about the problems of the planet.” The school examines subjects ranging from ageing and ethics to energy materials and particle therapy.
The school’s director, Professor Ian Goldin, paid tribute to Martin, saying, “Oxford Martin School embodies Jim’s concern for humanity, his creativity, his curiosity, and his optimism.
“Jim provided not only the founding vision but was intimately involved with the school and our many programmes. We have lost a towering intellect, guiding visionary and a wonderful close friend.”
In total, donations made by Martin to Oxford University greatly exceed £100 million, with the 2005 donation breaking records as being the largest ever. Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, had this to say on the university’s most generous benefactor.
“James Martin was a true visionary whose exceptional generosity established the Oxford Martin School, allowing researchers from across the disciplines to work together on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity,” he said.
“His impact will be felt for generations to come, as through the school he has enabled researchers to address the biggest questions of the 21st century.”