Dominic Elliott, the 23-year-old personal assistant to David Hockney — arguably Britain's greatest living artist — is dead. He was taken from Hockney's home on Sunday morning to Scarborough General hospital, where he later died, and authorities have suddenly ruled that Hockney's assistant (pictured at right) did not die of natural causes. "Further tests will now be carried out, the results of which will not be known for some weeks," a police spokesman told Sky News.
Until then, what we do know is that there was no violence involved in Elliott's death and as, The Daily Telegraph's Steven Swinford reports, one "John Fitzherbert, drove Mr Elliott 20 miles to the hospital. He was said to have been vomiting and seriously ill when he arrived at casualty." Though it's not clear why Elliott was vomiting, the Telegraph notes that Elliott's relatives believe he died after binge drinking at a party the night before, and that one friend claims he had an underlying heart condition, even though "post mortem results results have ruled this out as the cause of death."
Elliott's death is a shocking glance into the life of the 75-year-old artist who isn't exactly a tabloid figure here in the U.S.. Hockney is known for those swimming pools, and essentially being one of Britain's most influential cultural figures of the last half-century.
And Elliott was like something of a son to Hockney — he was even the subject of some of the artist's portraits (see right). Elliott's grandfather told the Telegraph:
I don’t know whether he drank too much or someone slipped him something, but I suspect it may have had something to do with it. David [Hockney] treated him more like a son than an employee. He even bought him a car.
The connection between the Elliott and Hockney makes this whole thing odd. Was Elliott indeed drinking too much, or was he slipped something at his boss's house? This is the stuff of British tabloid fodder, to be sure, especially since Elliott was not by himself, as it was Hockney's partner, Fitzherbert, who drove him to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance. Neither Sky News nor the Telegraph mention if Hockney was home at the same time as Elliott and his partner.
The battery of tests that Elliott's family will be awaiting include a toxicology report, and according to police spokesperson, "it may then take several more weeks for complete results to be available to provide a pathologist with the information required to identify any cause."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.