Chris Cline

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Chris Cline
Christopher Cline

(1958-07-05)July 5, 1958
DiedJuly 4, 2019(2019-07-04) (aged 60)
Abaco Islands, The Bahamas
Years active1980–2019
Spouse(s)Sabrina J. (nee Holley) Cline
(m. 19??; died 1987)[citation needed]
Kelly Cline
(m. 1993; div. 2000)
The Chris Cline Athletic Complex at Marshall University in 2021.

Chris Cline (July 5, 1958 – July 4, 2019) was an American billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist. He had been the majority owner of Foresight Reserves LP, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.[1] Regarded by Bloomberg as the "New King Coal",[2] Cline was considered to have been responsible for reviving the Illinois coal industry. His company has over three billion tons of coal reserves across Illinois and northern Appalachian Mountains.[3]

Early life[edit]

Cline was born in Beckley, West Virginia, on July 5, 1958. Cline's father was Paul Cline. Cline's mother was Lassie Justice Cline.[4]

Cline's grandfather mined for coal with a pickaxe around Beckley, West Virginia, in the early 20th century. At the age of six, Cline's father, Paul, asked him to fill a paper bag with dirt, paying him a penny for each bag. Cline dug the dirt from under the porch of their bungalow in Isaban, West Virginia. His father used the dirt bags in mine-blasting. Within two years, their porch had collapsed.[5] According to Cline, his father had told him to "support the roof better". In 1980, Cline's father bought out his partner then gave the shares to Cline, who was then 21 years old.


Cline studied psychology at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.[2][4]


Coal mining business[edit]

In 1980 at age 22, Cline became an underground miner. He founded his own energy development company, the Cline Group in 1990. In 2006 he organized Foresight Energy to manage his Illinois Basin coal rights. Foresight Energy went public in 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange.[6] Cline sold off most of his share of Foresight in 2015, for $1.4 billion.[7]

Illinois holds a 250-year supply of coal, providing the state with the largest recoverable coal reserve in the United States. In 2017, the state consumed nearly $1.4 billion of coal,[8] with coal mining operations located in 12 counties.[9] However, Illinois coal has too much sulfur to be burned by most power plants because of pollution control requirements.[5] Cline, who spent $300 million on mining rights and equipment in Illinois in the 1990s, had foreseen that the United States Environmental Protection Agency would require power plants to use scrubbers in removing pollutants, which would bring coal back into viability for electricity generation.

In 2005, Cline Group built its Williamson longwall mining operation south of West Frankfort, Illinois.[10]

The company SNL Financial reported in 2008 that Deer Run coal mine in Montgomery County, Illinois, a project of Cline's Hillsboro Energy LLC, would produce up to eight million tons annually until 2016. In the same report, Cline's representatives stated he was aiming for an annual coal production of 60 million tons from his Illinois operations.[11]

Illinois environmental groups and landowners attempted to block Cline's coal mine operations, and also sought to draw attention to his local political contributions.[12][13]

Cline purchased a Nova Scotia metallurgical coal mine after selling off Foresight stock, as well as rights to coal reserves in Western Canada.[7]

Cline defended coal as a source of low-cost energy, saying in a 2010 interview "As far as the social acceptability of coal, I like to think I’m part of supplying the cheapest energy in America."[2]


In May 2011, the School of Medicine and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics of West Virginia University received a $5 million donation from Cline through his Cline Family Foundation. The donation created the Christopher Cline Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery and helped fund a new basketball practice facility.[14]

In July 2011, Marshall University received a donation of $5 million from the Cline Family Foundation for sports medicine research.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Cline's first wife was Sabrina J. Holley Cline. They had a daughter, Candice. In September 1987, Cline's first wife died from breast cancer.

In 1993, Cline married Kelly, his second wife. They divorced in 2000.[4] The couple had two sons and a daughter, Christopher Logan Cline, Alex Tanner Cline, and Kameron Cline.[4][16]

In 2011, Cline's daughter Candice, a director of a foundation, married James Graham Kenan.[16][17]

Cline owned a 33,413-square-foot (3,104.2 m2) mansion in North Palm Beach, Florida, and a home in his native Beckley, West Virginia, with a 150-acre (61 ha) property.[2] Cline was a charter member of Brenton Southern Baptist Church.[18]

Cline also had a relationship with Elin Nordegren, ex-wife of golfer Tiger Woods.[19]

Mine Games[edit]

Cline owned two megayachts that he christened "Mine Games". The first was a 164-footer built by Trinity Yachts, delivered in 2008.[20] He sold the yacht in 2013, later purchasing another 205-foot (62 m) larger luxury yacht that he also christened "Mine Games".[21] Mine Games, which had five staterooms and its own submarine, was designed and built by Italy-based Benetti in 2010. Cline sold the yacht in the fall of 2018.[22]

Political donations[edit]

In 2015, Jasper Reserves, LLC, owned by Cline, donated one million dollars to Super PACs supporting the presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush.[23]

Threats against family[edit]

On August 20, 2012, Vivek Shah was arrested for the attempted extortion of Chris Cline, Harvey Weinstein, and three other individuals.[24] On or around June 26, 2012, Shah threatened to kill members of Cline's family if $13 million was not wired to an offshore bank account.[25] A seven-count felony indictment against Shah was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in September 2012, and in 2013 he was sentenced to seven years in prison.[26]


On July 4, 2019, Cline died in a helicopter crash in Grand Cay, Bahamas. He was 60 years old.[27][28]

Others who perished in the crash with Cline included his 22-year-old daughter Kameron and three of her friends (Brittney Searson, Jillian Clark and Delaney Wykle). They were traveling back from Bahamas to the United States en route to an American hospital after Kameron and one of her friends fell ill.[29] Other casualties were pilot David Jude and co-pilot, Geoffrey Lee Painter, an ex-Royal Air Force pilot from Barnstaple, United Kingdom.[27][28][30]

In a 2021 report, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the two pilots chose to take off, likely feeling pressured by Cline, despite dark conditions and lack of visual references over water. They became spatially disorientated and crashed into the sea. [31]


In 2014, Chris Cline Athletic Complex, an indoor football practice facility at Marshall University, was dedicated for Cline.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact Foresight Energy". Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Lippert, John (October 12, 2010). "New King Coal". Bloomberg Markets Magazine. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved June 23, 2011. Chris Cline became a billionaire by betting on a dirty fuel the world can't get enough of. With maps of 675 square miles of his Illinois mines before him, Chris Cline recalls the moment he knew the coal in those mines would be worth billions of dollars.
  3. ^ "The Carlyle Group: Foresight Reserves, LP". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Cohen, Howard (July 5, 2019). "Who was billionaire Chris Cline, who died in the Bahamas copter crash? He had Florida ties". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Lippert, John (October 12, 2010). "Cline Talking Clean as Coal Mines Supply Most Energy Since 1970". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  6. ^ About, Foresight Energy, 2019
  7. ^ a b Chris Cline Could Be The Last Coal Tycoon Standing, Christopher Helman, Forbes, December 19, 2017
  8. ^ "Illinois State Energy Profile". U.S. Energy Information Administration. April 18, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity–Coal". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  10. ^ "Foresight Energy Invests in Illinois". December 7, 2010. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  11. ^ Cassell, Barry (January 9, 2008). "Cline's Deer Run coal mine to produce up to 8 million tons per year". SNL. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  12. ^ Rushton, Bruce (July 17, 2010). "Activists raise concerns about coal mine slurry injection in Illinois". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  13. ^ Landis, Tim (April 25, 2011). "Deer Run producing 'development coal'". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  14. ^ "WVU academics receive $5,000,000 gift from Cline family". Archived from the original on June 20, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  15. ^ "Cline Family Foundation makes $5 million Gift to Marshall University for sports medicine research". July 20, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Chris Cline and Cameron Cline". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  17. ^ Warren, Nicole (2012). "A Perfect Start - A Friendship Leads to a Romantic Day at Runnymede Plantation". Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  18. ^ Billionaire Chris Cline dies in a helicopter crash near the Bahamas, governor says, CNN, Faith Karimi and Sheena Jones, July 5, 2019
  19. ^ "Billionaire Chris Cline, Elin Nordegren's Ex, Among 7 Dead in Bahamas Helicopter Crash". Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  20. ^ Fun and games aboard Mine Games August 2007
  21. ^ Lippert, John (October 12, 2010). "New King Coal". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  22. ^ "62 metre Benetti motor yacht Mine Games sold". Boat International. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  23. ^ "Million-Dollar Donors in the 2016 Presidential Race". The New York Times. August 25, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
  24. ^ Time Waster (August 17, 2012). "Man Busted In Harvey Weinstein Extortion Plot". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  25. ^ Time Waster (August 17, 2012). "Vivek Shah Affidavit". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  26. ^ Dillon, Nancy (September 12, 2013). "Man sentenced to 7 years for extortion plot against Harvey Weinstein, others". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  27. ^ a b Johnson, Alex (July 4, 2019). "Billionaire coal executive and philanthropist Chris Cline dies at 60". NBC News. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
  28. ^ a b 'Wonderful man and great Republican': Chris Cline dies in helicopter crash, The Guardian, July 6, 2019
  29. ^ Kelly, William (August 24, 2020). "Final seconds revealed before helicopter crash that killed billionaire Chris Cline, six others". TC Palm. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
  30. ^ "Searching for answers in crash that killed Palm Beach County billionaire, his daughter and her friends". Associated Press. July 6, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  31. ^ "NTSB: Pilot error caused fatal helicopter crash in Bahamas". The Independent. May 29, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  32. ^ "West Virginia, Marshall mourns loss of donor Chris Cline". July 9, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.

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