Mark Levinson, who grew Levinson Jewelers from a small booth-based business to a ritzy Fort Lauderdale, Fla., retailer renowned for its active philanthropy, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the early hours of Feb. 24, local police confirmed. He was 60.
The Miami Herald reports that police and the medical examiner say Levinson’s death is “consistent with a suicide” and do not suspect foul play.
The jeweler’s store began humbly in 1983, as one of 40 booths in a Plantation, Fla., jewelry exchange.
“We were broke,” Levinson’s wife, Robin, a co-owner of the business, later told Lifestyle Media Group. “We put all our savings into this one necklace. And it sold the first day for $3,500. In fact, it was the very first sale we had. We flipped out! That’s how it all began.”
Six years later, the business had expanded enough to take over the entire exchange. In 2009, it relocated to an 8,000-square-foot Fort Lauderdale store, kicked off with a star-studded opening that drew local sports and radio personalities.
The jeweler’s notable friends included former Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino, who appeared in ads for the store, and John Oates, one half of musical duo Hall & Oates.
“Mark was a kindly soul who worked a lot with John on the charities that John supports,” read a post on the Hall & Oates Facebook page. “Mark will be missed by all who knew and loved him.”
Most local articles on Levinson’s death mentioned his dealings with Scott Rothstein, the disbarred lawyer now serving a 50-year prison sentence for his role in a $1.2 billion ponzi scheme, considered the fourth largest financial fraud in U.S. history.
According to court papers, Rothstein bought $11 million in jewelry at Levinson’s store; his picture appears in JCK’s coverage of the store’s 2009 opening. In 2011, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing Rothstein’s former law firm sued the jeweler, seeking return of $9.8 million. Two years later, the sides reached a $650,000 settlement, in which the trustee asserted that there was no evidence that Levinson had any knowledge Rothstein’s money was tainted.
At press time, JCK could not locate a formal obituary, but a guest book has appeared online.
Jewelers and JCK readers who are feeling hopeless or depressed are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.