David Gest, the entertainer and former husband of Liza Minelli, was found dead at a Canary Wharf hotel on Tuesday morning. Gest, 62, had reportedly not been seen for two days.
Police and paramedics were called to the suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Canary Wharf at around 10.20am and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a post-mortem examination was yet to take place although his death was being treated as non-suspicious.
The close friend of Michael Jackson had poked fun at his own mortality recently with his upcoming tour entitled ‘David Gest Is Not Dead But Alive With Soul’, referencing a moment of confusion in the Big Brother house when Tiffany Pollard misunderstood Angie Bowie telling her David Bowie had died for Gest dying.
American singer Peabo Bryson, who was due to appear in Gest’s show in Bournemouth, tweeted: “Yes, I’ve heard the news and I’m devastated. David Gest is responsible for me finding the love of my life, PB.”
Gest is said to have spent half a year living at the hotel as he prepared for his 24-date tour, due to begin in York in July.
According to reports Gest had suffered from ill health in recent months and had been taking medication to treat pneumonia.
In the week before his death he was photographed sitting on a tube train after boarding at Victoria Station with help from staff on the platform.
Onlooker Matt Hare, 34, told The Sun: “I saw him on the platform. It looked like he was asking a TFL guy for instructions or assistance. The guy helped him on to the carriage and made sure he was OK. David looked frail and quite pale and was kind of just staring up at the Tube map.”
The last post Gest shared with followers on Twitter was a photo of himself with members of the Dylan Tombides Foundation, an organisation set up in memory of the 20-year-old West Ham footballer who died in April 2014.
— DT38 Foundation (@Dylantombides) April 6, 2016
The music producer was a familiar face on British TV, appearing in I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2006 and in Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year, which he exited after only 13 days due to ill health.
Friend and former bodyguard Imad 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.”
Fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemate Danniella Westbrook said: “David Gest was a beautiful soul and I will miss him dearly.
“David was like a father to me in the Celebrity Big Brother house. He told me I should be proud of who I am and I was Danniella Westbrook and that was ok.
“He gave me strength every day, he got me and I will never forget him. A shining star who will live in my heart forever.”
Nancy Dell’Olio, who also appeared in the show, added: “I am very shocked. I can’t believe it. I spoke to him just a few weeks ago. I felt that something was not right the last time I saw him. It’s very sad news indeed, he will be sorely missed.”
I’m devastated to hear about my dear friend David Gest. I love and miss you mate. Heaven will be a brighter place x pic.twitter.com/A3WP70hC4v
— Darren Day (@DarrenDOfficial) April 12, 2016
I can’t put it words how truly sad I’m to hear that the wonderful @DavidGest2016 past away. One of the best people I got to know in my life
— Kristina Rihanoff (@KRihanoff) April 12, 2016
Absolutely beside myself David Guest I 💗 you so much so so sad to hear this will never forget you X the phone calls I will miss so much RIP
— Gemma Collins (@missgemcollins) April 12, 2016
His friend Denise Welch expressed her shock at his passing.
“So shocked and sad to hear that our friend David Gest has died. Hasn’t quite sunk in,” she shared.
Gest, who grew up in Los Angeles where he was a friend of the Jackson family, had recently spoke of his fondness for life in Britain.
He told how he had developed an affinity with the city of York and said he would “never” go back to LA in an interview with The Grimsby Telegraph.
Gest grew up in Encino, a wealthy neighbourhood in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He became involved in the music business when he was a teenager,writing interviews and reviews for newspapers. At the age of 17 he was hired by London Records.
“I said I was 21 and I looked that age because by then I had a beard, moustache and an afro down to my tush,” he told the Yorkshire Post. “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, Engelbert Humperdinck, ZZ Top and Al Green.”
“I will die here and want to be buried in York. I love this country much more than my own.”