Lady Gaga stepped onto the red carpet on Monday night sporting a widow-esque black veil, and minutes later, celebrity photographer A.J. Sokalner was dead.
Sokalner was working the red carpet at the ACE Awards that the ‘Poker Face’ singer was attending in New York City when he collapsed just minutes after Gaga took to the carpet. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital shortly after, and the owner of ACE Pictures, who Sokalner worked for, says emergency workers said he had suffered a heart attack. He was in his late 50s.
Philip Vaughan, the owner of the ACE Pictures agency that Sokalner shot for, told PDN.com that A.J. “was very well liked, he was very well respected … He was a real photographer and he did it because he loved it.”
Fellow photographer Brian Lamb says he was just feet away from Sokalner when he fell ill.
“By the time I saw him, he was already blue and people were starting to give him CPR,” according to Lamb. Other photographers on the scene say Sokalner hit his head when he collapsed.
Sokalner’s friend Dennis Van Tine says he was also at the event, but by the time he got word of the incident, his friend was already being loaded into an ambulance.
Van Tine calls Sokalner “one of those silent guys who goes out and shoots every day.” He adds that his friend “was a cynic in the great New York tradition … He knew what was right, he knew what was wrong, he knew who the crooks were.”