In Memoriam: Bob Gilbert

LOS ANGELES — Longtime Marina Del Rey architect, sailor and boat builder Bob Gilbert has died. He was 71.

Gilbert passed away Oct. 15 in Los Angeles after battling a long illness. He who created 58 kinetic sculptures of various size, selling 50 of those pieces, many of which are on display in museums and galleries worldwide.

The boat builder wrote and narrated the 1969 Oscar-winning short documentary film, “Magic Machines.” The film also won the Prix Corte de Film at the Cannes Film Festival and was subsequently packaged with “Easy Rider” and distributed by Columbia Pictures.

He had a storied career as an architect, involved with building or designing houses for Don Henley, Sam Elliot, Katharine Ross, Joe Walsh, Cheech Marin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Herb Alpert and Bob Dylan among others.

Gilbert nurtured his lifelong passion for wooden boats by building a 45-footer for himself, Bequia, and a 65-footer for Dylan, according to his personal website. He is best known for his gaff cutter Bloodhound, a 98-foot replica of an 1874 William Fife design. He splashed her in Ventura in 1993.

The boat was a successful racer before becoming a charter boat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, serving as a whale watching vessel from 1998 to 2012. After a six-month stint in the yard the boat continued her winning ways.

Gilbert is survived by his wife of 17 years, Valerie, four grown children and several grandchildren.

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9 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Bob Gilbert

  • Stephan Gilbert

    We miss you Robert! Btw, Saul’s film “la cravate”you loved so much will be remembered, it’s out on DVD 🙂

  • cindy porter

    I lived in California many years ago and met Bob through Jim L. My sympathies are with you.

  • Larry Mole Parker

    i was a friend of bob’s at Lake Arrowhead in the early 60’s. what a great guy. i have a lot old photos of Bob with his Metal Sculptures that i shot. would love to show them to the family.

  • dennis neiditch

    friends with bob when he lived in a house in Sherman oaks. met Lew Alcindor there. also at barrington towers, where I slept on many occastions. sam Gilbert was always around. he was a truly brilliant man, fun to be with.

  • mark callanan

    How very sad. I spent time with Bob in Mexico with Bloodhound and at Akunamatata. Bob was a legend. I’m glad his doco, his houses, his paintings and his boats still stand as a testament to his genius and creativity.

  • Mick Viet

    Bob my old friend , I will always remember you and sailing aboard Bloodhound , your amazing cutter was wining the famous” One More Time Regatta” every year and I was proud being part of the racing team, we miss you Bob!

  • Captain. It is the “Boatswain’d.” On El Bahia de Banderas; we still scream, “BALLENA! Viva El BLOODHOUND!” You remain eternal. “Fair winds and following seas…. (gulp)… and long may your big jib draw!”

  • Dearest Bob, my most feared sailing competitor and deepest friend. You have always been an inspiration as to how to live life as a free spirit with no challenges ever getting in your way. You were a man I truly respected and loved.

  • Loretta

    It’s 2024 and I suddenly discover both you and Dennis have passed. I hope you are together, laughing and sailing the universal seas. Our contact was brief but you were special. Having the privilege of making the cushions for Bloodhound and listening to your amazing thought processes will stay with me forever. You and Dennis were larger than life and are now true legends. I will always remember you both with love and deep respect.


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