The 71-year-old was reportedly choked to death by intruders who stole several valuables, including a safe-deposit box and Rolex watches.
A prominent Los Angeles nightclub owner and restaurateur was found dead in the Dominican Republic this week after apparently being gagged, choked, and beaten.
The body of Mario Oliver, 71, was discovered inside a villa in Las Terrenas, on the Samaná Peninsula on Wednesday night, Dominican Today reported. The National Police and the Central Directorate of Criminal Investigations are said to have found that Oliver, once a pillar of the L.A. nightlife scene when he ran the popular Vertigo nightclub, suffered head trauma and manual compression of the neck.
Investigators say the home was broken into, with a safe-deposit box stolen, along with several Rolex watches and other valuables, according to local reports. The intruders also reportedly gagged Oliver before choking him to death.
Jim Colachis, a business associate of Oliver, confirmed his death to The Daily Beast.
“Vertigo and Mario will always be a part of history and my heart,” he said.
Colachis’ brother, Nicholas, who was also close to Oliver, said he could not understand why the intruders killed Oliver when they could have taken one Rolex and lived a “lifetime of leisure.”
“Mario did love the limelight. He was a wonderful person, wonderful showman, wonderful partner, wonderful father,” he said, adding that Oliver was “so much fun” that “you could make a movie” about him.
Oliver grew up in France before moving to L.A. in 1981, where he went on to run the clubs Vertigo and The Gate, as well as restaurants Tryst, Le Petit Four and Linq. The restaurateur was reportedly twice-divorced and had previously dated Princess Stephanie of Monaco.
He was also arrested in 1982 on rape charges for allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old girl, before agreeing to sexual battery charges in a plea bargain, The Los Angeles Times reported in 1987.
An investigation into his death by Dominican police is ongoing.