Robert Haas, Financier and Aerial Photographer, Dies at 74


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“The lesson that we have both learned is that the best thing you can do is to have good partners and relationship with affection, trust and respect,” Mr. Haas told The New York Times in 1988. “We have a special ability to cancel out one another’s bad ideas.”

After parting with Mr. Hicks in 1989, Mr. Haas created the private equity firm Haas & Partners, which later became Haas, Wheat & Partners. It specialized in smaller deals than Hicks & Haas had done; one of its best known investments was the acquisition of 40 percent of Playtex Products for $180 million. Mr. Haas served as Playtex’s chairman from 1995 to 2004.

His deep dive into aerial photography gave way to an equally passionate immersion in motorcycles about 10 years ago. After buying one, he bought more and began to ride them (but only those with sidecars, which gave him more balance). He was as interested in the art and construction of classic motorcycles as he was with new ones, which he commissioned.

“We’re both basically nerds, and he became fascinated by the design and mechanical aspects of the bikes,” Craig Rodsmith, who built three motorcycles for Mr. Haas, including one called “The Killer,” said by phone. “For Bobby, it wasn’t only the bikes — he liked the story, the personalities behind them.”

Mr. Haas opened his Haas Moto Museum in 2018; it now has 230 motorcycles.

His interest in motorcycles led him to ride for about a year with the Viet Nam Vets Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, a groip made up entirely of veterans and active members of the military; he described his time with them in “Shakespeare and the Brothers: Embedded with a Band of Bikers” (2015).

In addition to Ms. Mayfield, who said she plans to keep the museum going for about three more years, he is survived by his daughters, Samantha Haas, Courtney Haas Bauch and Vanessa Haas Hood; four grandchildren; his sister, Jodi Davis; and his brother Richard. His marriage to Candice (Goldfarb) Haas, in 1969, ended in divorce in 2017.

Mr. Haas last year decided that he would bequeath the motorcycles he had commissioned back to their builders. As he told them in a scene captured in “Leaving Tracks,” he said he wanted to return to them “the children of your souls.”


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