Ehud Arye Laniado died at the age of 65 in the clinic of an unnamed plastic surgeon on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in the French capital.
According to local media, complications during surgery proved fatal for the Belgian-Israeli dual national and he suffered a heart attack when a substance was injected into his penis.
The billionaire, whose exact fortune is not publicly known, got in trouble with the authorities in 2013.
He faced claim for 4 billion British pounds (approx. $5.2 billion) from the Belgian authorities for tax evasion on diamonds illegally imported from Congo and Angola, Belgian’s GVA reported.
Laniado reportedly prevented a tax evasion trial by agreeing to pay 137.7 pounds.
However, the Belgian customs office suspected him of lying or giving incomplete information about some of the diamonds imported from Angola and Congo and still claimed 4 billion pounds as well as a 1.7 million pounds (approx. $2.2 billion) fine.
Even though two courts dismissed the Belgian customs office’s claim, an appeals court ordered a new trial with Laniado due to appear in court on March 14.
Laniado’s company, Omega Diamonds, which is based in the Belgian city of Antwerp, where most of the world’s top diamond traders operate, confirmed his passing.
A statement read: “Farewell to a visionary businessman. It is with great sadness that we confirm that our founder Ehud Arye Laniado has passed away.”
According to media reports, Laniado suffered from a so-called Napoleon complex due his short stature.
An old friend of Laniado who wished to remain anonymous said he was known as “the Argentinian” at Omega Diamonds “because he looked like a tango dancer”.
The old friend said that Laniado was “always focused on his appearance and how others perceived him.”
According to Laniado’s friends, the only time he forgot about his short height was when he asked his accountant to read out his bank statement, something which he did multiple times a day, it was reported.
Laniado reportedly owned the most expensive penthouse in Monaco worth over 30 million pounds (approx. $39.4 million) as well as a house in the plush L.A. suburb of Bel Air, where he loved to drink bottles of Chateau Margaux with models and celebrities.
According to local media, Laniado did not go to university and he started off his career as a masseuse at the Hilton hotel in Tel Aviv.
A friend said: “In Antwerp, it turned out that he did have some talents. Internationally, he was one of the biggest experts in valuing raw diamonds.”
In 2015, Laniado sold the world’s most expensive diamond, called the Blue Moon of Josephine, to Hong Kong businessman and convicted felon Joseph Lau Luen Hung for 36.8 million pounds (approx. $48.4 million).
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