Dennis Hof, the American legal brothel owner and reality TV star, has died in his sleep at the age of 72.
Hof, who compared himself to Donald Trump and was running as a Republican candidate for the Nevada state assembly, had spent his last nights celebrating his birthday with friends including controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio.
He was found dead at the Love Ranch Vegas, one of his brothels in Nevada, by his long-time friend, porn star Ron Jeremy, at 11am on Tuesday.
His agent Chuck Muth said no cause of death had yet been determined but no foul play was suspected. Hof did not drink, smoke or use drugs, he added.
“It is with great sadness and tremendous shock to announce that Dennis Hof, 72, passed away sometime this morning in his sleep at the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada,” he said in a statement.
Mr Arpaio, who was pardoned by the US president last year after being convicted of contempt of court, said that Hof had been in good spirits at a party at the Pahrump Nugget hotel-casino the previous night.
“Boy, that’s shocking,” said Mr Arpaio. “The thing I liked about him – he was with Trump and was for the Second Amendment and lower taxes.”
Hof’s partner, former ”Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss, rapper Flavor Flav, tax-cut activist Grover Norquist and the local sheriff for Nye County, Sharon Wehrly, were also among the 100 people at the celebration.
“He was sitting on a stool talking with people when I left about 10,” said Sheriff Wehrly.
Paying tribute to Hof on Twitter, Ron Jeremy said: “Today I lost one of my best friends. I am the one who found him. Every year we spend the weekend together for his birthday. He said this was the best year ever. I will miss him every day. Rest In Peace Daddy D.”
Hof, who was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on 14 October 1946, has been described as “America’s biggest pimp”. He began his career sweeping up at a local garage but by 1971 was the owner of five gas stations.
He bought the Moonlite BunnyRanch near Carson City, Nevada, in 1995 and starred in the HBO series “Cathouse” from 2002 until 2004.
In recent years he repeatedly compared himself to the president, describing himself as 'The Trump of Pahrump' and publishing a memoir titled The Art of the Pimp, a reference to Mr Trump’s own book The Art of the Deal.
Hof regularly appeared on talk shows and gave speeches at Oxford University and Trinity College, Dublin, and the Sorbonne in Paris.
Previously a Libertarian, he became a Trump-supporting Republican in 2016 and won the primary for the Nevada state assembly in June 2018 after holding a rally with Mr Trump’s former campaign adviser Roger Stone.
“It’s all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for me,” Hof told reporters after his victory. “He found the way and I jumped on it.”
He was expected to win against Democrat Lesia Romanov at the election in November and if he wins posthumously officials will nominate another Republican to fill the vacancy.
Hof had been involved in several controversies. He has been accused of sexual assault on at least four occasions and was still being investigated for an allegation made in September.
In 2015 NBA player Lamar Odom, former husband of Khloe Kardashian, was found unconscious at one of Hof’s brothels.
Hof’s weekend of partying began with a “Save the Brothels” concert to raise funds to fight the closure of four of his properties in northern Nevada’s Lyon County.
He held celebrations at his Bunny Ranch bar and restaurant on Saturday and his home in northern Nevada on Sunday before the party in Pahrump on Monday night.
On Tuesday morning his body was carried out of the Love Ranch Vegas on a stretcher past a sign reading: “Always Open, Always Tasty, No sex required.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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