David Gest, a music producer, reality TV star and Liza Minnelli’s ex-husband, was found dead Tuesday in a London hotel. He was 62.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police told Variety in a statement that they were called to the Four Seasons Hotel in London’s Canary Wharf about “reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. This is being treated as non-suspicious at this stage.”
Gest’s friend Imad Handi confirmed the news in a statement.
“David was truly larger than life,” the statement said. “He was not just a huge talent and a dear friend but a showbiz icon. I know he will be missed by millions of fans around the world, and particularly in Britain, who came to love his charm and blistering one-liners. If I may steal the words of one eminent critic, David was a natural star and a genuine celebrity. I will miss him desperately.”
Gest was married to Minnelli from 2002 to 2003, but they didn’t officially divorce until 2007. He sued her for $10 million after they separated, claiming that she had physically assaulted him during their relationship.
Like Minnelli, he was a friend of Michael Jackson and produced a 2011 documentary on the King of Pop, “Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon,” following his death. He also produced a TV musical special — then touted as the highest rated in history — 2001’s “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration” the last reunion between Jackson and his brothers.
Gest was born in Los Angeles, but recently made a name for himself on British reality TV, appearing on the shows “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” in 2006 and “Celebrity Big Brother” just a few months ago. House guests feared that Gest had died in an episode of “Big Brother” when contestant Tiffany “New York” Pollard misunderstood fellow houseguest Angela Bowie, who learned about her ex-husband David Bowie’s death on the show. Gest struggled with health problems in recent years, which led to an exit from the “Big Brother” house after just 13 days.
He was about to start a nationwide theater tour in Britain in July called “David Gest Is Not Dead but Alive With Soul” based on the epic “Big Brother” misunderstanding.