Gest passed away at the Four Seasons hotel in London, his friend Imad Handi confirmed, according to the BBC.
“It is with great sadness that I can confirm that David Gest has died today,” Handi said in the statement. “David was truly larger than life. He was not just a huge talent and a dear friend, but a showbiz icon.”
Handi added: “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.”
Scotland Yard released a statement confirming the death of a man at the Four Seasons hotel in London, though they cannot confirm the identity of the deceased at this time.
“Police were called at 10:17hrs on Tuesday 12 April to the Four Seasons hotel, in Westferry Circus, E14, to reports of an unexplained death of a man in his 60s,” the statement reads.
“This is being treated as non-suspicious at this stage. London Ambulance Service were called to the scene. Life was pronounced extinct at the hotel.”
The death comes just months before Gest was slated to tour the U.K. in a show called “David Gest Is Not Dead But Alive with Soul,” the BBC reports.
According to the BBC, the title stems from Gest’s time on Celebrity Big Brother U.K., namely a January episode in which housemate Angie Bowie told fellow guest Tiffany “New York” Pollard, “David’s dead” – referring to her ex-husband, the late David Bowie – leading Pollard to believe Gest had died.
“I am so shocked to hear about David Gest’s death,” his former manager Vickie White tells PEOPLE. “I only knew him a year but in that time I fell for his jokes on a daily basis… this morning I thought this was another one. You had the last laugh bonkers, crazy, funny man. RIP.”
Gest was Minnelli’s fourth husband. The two married in 2002 (in a star-studded and unique New York wedding). Minnelli filed for divorce from Gest after 18 months of marriage – Gest sued Minnelli for $10 million, alleging that she beat him.
Jackson, along with his brother Tito, served as Gest’s best men at the lavish wedding. Jackson and Gest were longtime friends, the megamogul even offered the lone toast at the ceremony.
• Reporting by PHILIP BOUCHER