On July 20, Aron Aranbayev, the owner of Rafaello & Co., a 47th Street jeweler that often attracted celebrity clients, died after deliberately being struck July 19 by a dark-colored Dodge Magnum. Police have classified his death a homicide, said an NYPD statement.
According to the New York Daily News, police sources believe Aranbayev—who went by Eric—was being dropped off at his home in Forest Hills, N.Y., on July 19 after attending a funeral for a family member. The Magnum driver reportedly grew angry that Aranbayev was blocking his path. The two got into an argument, and the driver is believed to have sped up his car and hit Aranbayev.
CBS2 says that Aranbayev, 40, had four children, one of whom is a newborn.
Aranbayev emigrated to America from the former Soviet Union in 1985, and a year later with two partners founded Mair’s, a wholesale jewelry company that eventually morphed into Rafaello & Co., its website says.
Opening during the height of the recession in 2009, the custom-design boutique soon became known as a “jeweler to the stars,” attracting such noteworthy clients as Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys, and Jay-Z, according to its site. Aranbayev’s Instagram feed shows him posing with Khloe Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather. (One celebrity client, DJ Khaled, is now in litigation with the store.)
The jeweler told the Daily News in a 2011 interview that he was able to attract such big names because many, like him, came from poor backgrounds.
“All this didn’t just come silver-spoon-handed to us,” he says. “We all worked very, very hard for this. We understand the struggles when artists come out of the ghetto, the hard times that they’ve come through to get to that point. We came from that same thing.”
He added: “The client can walk in here and tell me they want to put a diamond in their eyeball. I’ll do it. I’ll find a way to do it. That’s what we do. We find a way to make sure it gets done.… I don’t care what business you’re in. Customer service is very, very important. The customer is always right. Even if they’re wrong, they’re always right.”
A post on the Rafaello & Co. Instagram account attributed to business cofounder Gabriel Jacobs says: “Today with a heavy heart I write this to you all. Today I and we all lost our brother my back bone.… Please pray for our family.”
He later paid tribute to him again later on the social networking site: