• Restaurateur Nello Balan built an empire from his eponymous diner in New York
  • Sadly, daughter Lucy confirmed that he had passed away in hospital on Tuesday 
  • She said that she 'was by his side' as he issued some heartwarming last words 

The famed restaurateur behind a celebrity-loved Italian eatery frequented by the likes of Jennifer LopezArnold Schwarzenegger and Beyoncé has died aged 64.

Nello Balan built an empire from his eponymous diner on Madison Avenue, New York, which became a socialite hotspot.

Sadly his daughter, Lucy, confirmed that he passed away in hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

She told Page Six that she 'was by his side' as he issued some heartwarming last words.

Balan's cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but he had been plagued by health issues in recent years.

He underwent successful surgery less than two years ago to remove a brain tumor.

But, just a short time later, he was in a ski accident that left him 'in and out of the hospital for about a month.'

Lucy told the publication that her father issued some heartwarming last words: '"I love you Lucy. You are the boss. Never forget where you come from."

'He said it all my life, he loves me, my whole family, my sister, my brother, my other sister, my children.'

Romanian-born Balan built up his namesake eatery for more than 25 years.

It currently describes itself as the place 'where art, fashion, politics, entertainment, aristocracy, and finance converge to create a world of urbane sophistication, genuine leisure and cosmopolitan chic on Madison Avenue.'

The private dining room attracted a whole host of famous faces including Jennifer Lopez, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z also celebrated their wedding anniversary at the pricey celebrity hotspot in 2010.

But, despite its success, Balan was forced to step away from the restaurant in 2015 after 25 years following a dispute with business partner Thomas Makkos.

The former owner described it at the time as 'a marriage that didn't work.'

Instead, Balan spent time travelling and lived in Rome for a year alongside girlfriend Princess Rita von Boncompagni Ludovisi - the former wife of Republican US Rep John Jenrette.

Lucy told the publication: 'She was a big part of his life. They were writing books together, doing art and he was cooking in the villa with her.

'They had a very special relationship.'

Lucy, who named her daughter after Balan, said that it had always been her father's dream that he would one day reclaim the Upper East Side restaurant.

She is now hoping to 'continue his legacy,' telling the outlet: 'I will take over the restaurant and make it happen again. I was his number-one fan.' 

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2023-05-25T23:01:59Z dg43tfdfdgfd