The Melbourne nightclub entrepreneur known as ‘the King of the Clubs’ was battling a crippling ice addiction before his shock death in country Victoria on Monday.
Darren Thornburgh, 53, was found dead on a mattress on the balcony of his home in Barmah, on the Victoria and New South Wales border.
The prominent nightlife figure spiralled into drug use when his marriage ended in 2008, and the illicit substances ‘took control of him,’ a former worker at his nightclub Boutique told The Herald Sun.
The Herald Sun reported Mr Thornburgh had sought help for his substance abuse issues two weeks ago, but The Age reported he had refused help for his addiction just a week ago.
Darren Thornburgh (pictured) reportedly refused help for his drug addiction just one week before he was found dead on a mattress at his home in Barmah on Monday
Friends say Darren Thornburgh’s (above, with Nicky and Paris Hilton) life spiralled out of control when his marriage broke down
For years, the father-of-two was said to have been using ice and cocaine.
A spokesman for Victoria Police said on Tuesday morning the exact circumstances surrounding Mr Thornburgh’s death were yet to be determined. Officers are not treating his death as suspicious.
Reports claim the man was shot in the head.
Mr Thornburgh was rearranging his financial affairs only last week, changing the elaborate structure of his corporate structure.
His Boutique nightclub in Prahran appears to be currently closed for renovations, but the Herald Sun reported he had been evicted by landlords just three weeks ago.
The club was once the go-to spot for celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Russell Crowe and more.
After growing up in Dandenong, Mr Thornburgh (left) moved to Melbourne, where he worked in nightclubs as a bus boy
The Melbourne nightclub entrepreneur was found dead on a mattress on the front porch of his home in Evans Street in Barmah, northern Victoria, on Monday
Many of his A-list clientele were invited up to the office on the second floor of the nightclub, where a fully stocked bar, a strippers pole and celebrity memorabilia were kept, The Age reported.
When Mr Thornburgh opened the plush Greville Street club in 2001, he told punters at the launch party that his ‘days of listening to banging music have passed.’
After growing up in Dandenong, he moved to Melbourne, where he worked in nightclubs as a bus boy.
He rose up the ranks to management positions at clubs including Warehouse in South Yarra and Heat at Crown Casino, reported to the Herald Sun.
Mr Thornburgh got his nickname ‘Razzle’ from the diamond he had implanted in his front tooth.
‘Razzle gave his club rock star status,’ a former co-worker told the Herald Sun.
‘He was respected in the industry and he knew what he was doing. He was definitely king of the nightclubs… until other things took over.’
He reportedly lost the lease to his Boutique nightclub just three weeks ago, but it was once the go-to spot for celebrities, including Kim Kardashian
Mr Thornburgh opened his club Boutique in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran in 2001
Divorce and drug use weren’t the only problems that affected the nightclub owner’s life negatively – he was also facing serious money problems.
In 2011, he was made bankrupt after failing to pay a legal bill, the Herald Sun reports.
An associate told the newspaper that he’d once paid a debt by handing over his Bentley.
And threats from debt collectors led to him moving into a suite at the Crown Casino due to the round-the-clock security for four years.
Friends say he left the Crown a year ago and was spending his time between South Yarra and Barmah.
And a business associate told the Herald Sun that he had planned to return to the club scene this year – but his landlords had evicted him from Boutique three weeks ago.
‘He lost the club, which means he lost everything,’ they said.
Divorce and drug use weren’t the only problems that affected the nightclub owner’s life negatively – he was also facing serious money problems, friends said
Friends said Mr Thornburgh’s drug use escalated when his marriage to Denise Foster (above) ended in 2008
Police said a 53-year-old man was found dead in the town of Barmah about 4.10pm on Monday but haven’t officially confirmed the victim is the high-profile nightclub owner.
Property records show the house belongs to Mr Thornburgh, who is the owner of the Melbourne nightclub and the Barmah pub.
But Mr Thornburgh’s ex-wife, Denise Foster, wrote on Facebook about the death.
‘Could all you disco idiots out there have some respect and integrity for his children,’ she posted on Tuesday.
The pair have two daughters.
Friends paid tribute on social media to the man known as ‘Razzle Dazzle’.
Investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy. Above, the scene outside the property in Barmah
‘Tragic news last night an old friend from the mid 80’s Darren ‘Razzle Dazzle’ Thornburgh was found dead in his country home,’ Peter Kalia wrote on social media.
‘Darren was always a great bloke with me … may you Rest In Peace my friend.’
Investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy to determine Mr Thornburgh’s cause of death.
Mr Thornburgh’s death comes just over a year after bullets peppered the home of his ex-wife (pictured)
A police spokeswoman said the results of the autopsy are expected on Tuesday afternoon.
Boutique nightclub was shot at a year ago, and a week later the home of Ms Foster in Port Melbourne was peppered with bullets.
Detective Inspector David Griffin said at the time he believed the offender or offenders were trying to send a message.
‘It would appear that certainly someone is not happy with something that’s going on and is clearly trying to send a message,’ he told reporters in 2016.
It appeared a bit of planning had gone into both shootings, he added.