Former New York Nightclub Owner Found Dead in Suspected Homicide

Savyon Zabar, A.K.A. "Big Ben," was well known within the gay community.

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Jan 6 2017, 9:35pm

Savyon Zabar, pictured with Rihanna. Photo via Facebook

Former New York nightclub owner Savyon Zabar was found dead earlier this week in his Upper West Side apartment, according to NY Daily News, in what police have today classified as a homicide. Zabar was 54.

Zabar, who was known by friends as "Big Ben" due to his large stature, was well known throughout the gay community, having owned and managed gay nightclubs Escuelita and XL, both of which hosted DJ MikeQ's famous Vogue Knights weekly events. In 2012, he successfully kept Escuelita from having its liquor license revoked by the state after a former manager punched a patron in the face, as well as an alleged sale to a minor. In his defense, Zabar cited prejudice against the young minority men who frequented the area. The club shut down last year when a farewell notice was posted on the website.

Fernando Munizaga, a friend of Zabar's, told NY Daily News: "He got me started in the gay scene in management... He was a huge figure in the gay community. He gave us a voice. He gave us opportunity. He gave a platform to the gay Latin community."

"The club life was his passion," said Carlos Arenas, one of Zabar's former co-workers, to DNA Info. "That was his thing, he was an entertainer."

As of this morning (January 6), no arrests have been made. A GoFundMe page has been set up in Zabar's name.