Mark Levinson, the prominent South Florida jeweler and founder of Levinson Jewelers, was found dead Tuesday morning, apparently of a suicide.
Levinson, 60, and his wife, Robin, founded their jewelry store in the 1989, and the store at 888 E. Las Olas Blvd. has become a fixture in Fort Lauderdale.
According to Fort Lauderdale Police, Levinson was found around 3:15 a.m. at his home in the 1100 block of SE Fourth Street on Tuesday. The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Levinson had left behind a suicide note.
Levinson had been in the headlines in recent years for selling jewelry to convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.
In January 2010, New Times reported that Rothstein had bought more than $20 million in jewelry using the money he got through his scheme from JR Dunn Jewelers and Levinson's. According to the report, the majority of the jewelry -- which included diamonds and watches -- was purchased at Levinson's.
It's clear that if Rothstein had a main jeweler, it was Levinson. If Dunn sold Rothstein $2 million worth of jewelry, that would leave $18 million-plus coming from Levinson. The two men shared the same publicist, Kip Hunter, and both forged close relationships with Dan Marino, whose face is on Levinson billboards around town.
Levinon's connection with Rothstein was even immortalized in fan fiction written by New Times readers:
I am aboard the SS Ponzi with Ft. Frauderdale's best. The Gangs all here. I just saw the Levinsons hiding in the hull of the vessel. They are packed in there like two kilos. The Morses' are fighting over the cocktail waitress with the fake boobs and Levin is wearing the latest in Versace black capes. Nurik keeps complaining about the rain and how this year's parade is not like the one at Disney.
For his part, Levinson had denied knowing where Rothstein had gotten his money for the jewelry. But Levinson did have to eventually pay a settlement from a 2013 lawsuit related to Rothstein's defunct law firm going bankrupt.
A bankruptcy trustee sued Levinson Jewelers for $10 million over money Rothstein's law firm reportedly used to pay for jewelry and watches. Levinson eventually ended up paying $650,000.
Levinson will, however, also be remembered for his philanthropy, raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, Young at Arts Museum, and abuse victims in Aspen. Most notably, he worked with songwriter John Oates of Hall & Oates.
Oates memorialized Levinson on his Facebook page:
RIP Mark Levinson, Owner of Levinson Jewelers and friend to John Oates. Mark was a kindly soul who worked a lot... http://t.co/DnCgyJsxG0— hallandoatesforever (@hallandoates) February 25, 2015
RIP Mark Levinson of Levinson Jewelers in Fort Lauderdale. You are in a better place now.— William E. Lewis, Jr (@4BillLewis) February 25, 2015