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David Gest Dies; Former Husband of Liza Minnelli

David Gest and Liza Minnelli

David Gest, the ex-husband of Liza Minnelli, was found dead in a London hotel Tuesday. He was 62.

London police said there was nothing suspicious about the circumstances of his death, which occurred at the Four Seasons Hotel, but did not state the cause, the BBC reports. An autopsy will be performed.

Gest was a music and TV producer and had appeared on reality shows in the U.K., including Celebrity Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! He was planning to tour the U.K. this summer with an entertainment showcase called the David Gest Is Not Dead But Alive With Soul Tour, featuring singers Dina Carroll, Freda Payne, and others, the BBC reports. The title played on a mix-up between his death and David Bowie’s during a conversation by contestants on Celebrity Big Brother.

Gest was rumored to be gay, something he flatly denied. But he was married to a full-fledged gay icon in Minnelli. Their wedding, in 2002, was a star-studded affair at New York City’s St. Regis Hotel. Elizabeth Taylor was matron of honor, and Michael Jackson was best man.

But they separated a year later, and their breakup was marked by a series of suits and countersuits, with Gest alleging Minnelli was physically abusive and Minnelli contending he was trying to drain her cash. The suits were eventually settled out of court, and the couple divorced in 2007.

Minnelli had no comment to offer on Gest’s death, a representative for the star said in response to an inquiry from the New York Daily News. Gest was her fourth husband.

Gest’s other claims to fame include producing the 2001 TV special Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration and working with British pop star Cliff Richard on his 2011 album Soulicious, which featured appearances by Roberta Flack and Candi Staton.

In recently years Gest’s primary home was York, in the north of England. “It’s my home and the most beautiful place in the world,” he told the Yorkshire Post in 2014. “You look at the Minster, the cobblestone streets, the history with the Vikings, and the River Ouse running through.”

Gest’s friend and former bodyguard Imad Handi confirmed his death and released a statement of tribute, the BBC reports. “David was truly larger than life,” Handi 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.

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