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San Francisco Socialite Found Dead In Nevada Apartment

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Socialite Amber Marie Bentley, seen here on opening night for the San Francisco Opera on September 11, 2009. (Photo courtesy: Red Carpert Bay Area.)

Socialite Amber Marie Bentley, seen here on opening night for the San Francisco Opera on September 11, 2009. (Photo courtesy: Red Carpert Bay Area.)

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GARDNERVILLE, Nevada (CBS/AP) — A jewelry designer, arts aficionado and one-time fixture on San Francisco’s wealthy social scene was being remembered Thursday for her contributions to conservation causes.

Authorities said they were investigating the death of socialite and businesswoman Amber Marie Bently, whose body was found in her Nevada apartment by a process server who went to deliver an eviction notice last week. 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.

Bently, 34, was married to businessman Christopher Bently, CEO of Bently Holdings, a property management company with offices in Minden, Nev., and San Francisco.

In a statement issued Thursday, Bently Holdings said it was “terribly saddened” to learn of the death of a former colleague.

It said Amber Bently helped forge the company into one of the Bay Area’s most sustainable businesses and her “charisma and innovative spirit live on” in the Bently organizations.

Christopher and Amber Bently 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 were pending – a process that could take six to eight weeks.

Sheriff’s deputies described Amber 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.

Christopher Bently heads several companies founded by his late father, Donald Bently, an engineer, philanthropist and businessman who died in October at the age of 87.

The elder Bently founded Bently Scientific Company in the garage of his Berkeley 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 said. “She was always joyful. She made amazing jewelry and beautiful stuff.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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