David Gest found dead in London hotel
ENTERTAINER David Gest has been found dead in the Four Seasons hotel in Canary Warf, London. He was 62-years-old.
His death was confirmed by a statement from his friend and former bodyguard, Imad Handi. Mr Handi said: "It is with great sadness that I can confirm that David Gest has died today.
"David was truly larger than life. 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."
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "Police were called at 10.17am on 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.
"A post-mortem will be held in due course. Next of kin are in the process of being informed."
The producer and TV personality sparked concerns for his health in the Celebrity Big Brother house in January when he was placed into a separate room to rest after becoming unwell. He then had to leave the house after just 13 days due to unspecified medical reasons. Gest was also the fourth runner-up in the 2006 series of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, where he proved to be a popular contestant.
News of his death was met with an outpouring of grief from his friends and fellow Big Brother housemates.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in southern California, he was close friends with Michael Jackson as a child and had a relationship with Latoya Jackson as a teenager. Gest produced a documentary about Jackson starring himself, The Life of an Icon, after his friend's death in 2011. He also produced Liza's Back, Liza Minnelli's Broadway comeback, as well as the American Cinema Awards for 14 years.
Gest launched his career in entertainment aged 17 when he was hired by London Records as a West Coast Publicity Director after pretending to be 21.
"I looked that age because by then I had a beard, moustache and an afro down to my tush," he told the Yorkshire Post in 2014. "They hired me as West Coast publicity director and the next year I became national public relations director in New York. I was handling the careers of people like Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, ZZ Top and Al Green.
"About a year later Al Green said he didn't have a manager and needed someone to look after him so I opened my own PR and management firm and as well as managing Al I took on the Doobie Brothers and Burt Bacharach."
He was due to begin a UK tour entitled David Gest is Not Dead, But Alive With Soul, in July.
Gest married Minnelli in 2002, although they separated in 2003.