The Kellers and Their Millions
Then Comes Marriage
They were married in August 1992, five months after they met.
Rose was cast into a role as hausfrau to a much older man. But instead of grabbing a feather duster, she spent her time pursuing her artistic passions.
She proved to have many talents: photographer, abstract painter, pianist. Keller encouraged her to pursue these hobbies, and he provided the cameras, easels and piano.
They were homebodies, rarely dining out. They traveled together occasionally and spent time at Kellers 900-acre farm in rural Virginia.
Three of Roses siblings, Wolfgang, Klaus and Angelika, eventually joined her in south Florida. Fred Keller helped pay for their education and living expenses.
The couples life together seemed harmonious when their son, Frederick Jr., arrived in 1995. Just as Keller had hoped, he was a prototypic German child: tow-headed with a fair complexion. They called him Fredchen, German for Freddy.
Keller decided his son and wife deserved a bigger and better mansion. In 1998, he paid $1.5 million for a 10,000-square-foot beachfront estate at 1480 North Lake Way, complete with tennis courts and a guest house that was often occupied by one or another of the Keil siblings.
Over their first six years together, as her English proficiency went from passable to fluent, Rose took an increasing interest in Kellers business, Keller Trust Co. Eventually, Keller began paying his wife a six-figure salary as her role with the firm became ever more prominent.
At about the time they moved into the new house, Rose reached the conclusion that her role in the marriage and family business was not accurately reflected in the prenuptial agreement the couple had signed. She asked her husband to reconsider, but he was not enthusiastic about the idea.
The topic began to come up frequently.
Keller would later say that Rose badgered me, nagged me, harassed me over money. "She can be very, very aggressive and persistent on things if she wants something," he added.
By Roses account, she was being treated as a second-class partner in the relationship. Keller, she said, was a domineering man who tried to manage his familyin matters great and smallwith the same firm grip he used in business.
For example, he informed Rose when he felt it was time for his wife to stop breast-feeding Fredchen. Keller alone decided when they could and could not watch televisionand what they would watch when they did so. He parsed out money only grudgingly, once refusing to allow Rose to see a doctor for a broken toe because he feared the medical bills.
"He would try to control everything she did," Wolfgang Keil would later say. "He would yell at her for little things. He just treated her bad."
Rose sounded defensive and defeated when asked, some time later, what she had brought into the marriage.
"I had me, at 20-something years old, young, beautiful, the whole world in front of me, she said. And I had a brain in my head, too, even though I didn't have a nice big diploma hanging on my wall. I could have acquired that. I gave myself, my energy, my love, my affection, my care."
Keller tried to get her off his back by scribbling a phony handwritten promise of a 50/50 split. But he knew the note was not legally binding, and soon Rose discovered the ruse.
Their relationship crumbled after Keller suffered a heart attack in the spring of 1999. Keller was incensed that Rose continued to press him about the pre-nup as he was recovering. And Rose could not understand why her husband refused to share his wealth with the woman he had professed to loveand who bore him a beautiful son.
It seemed to her like unadulterated greed.