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Jeweler to the Stars Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in Forest Hills

By  Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska and Aidan Gardiner | July 21, 2015 10:10am 

 Aron Aranbayev was mowed down just steps from his Forest Hills home.
Jeweler to the Stars Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in Forest Hills
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QUEENS — Jeweler to the stars Aron Aranbayev, whose clients included Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, died Monday after he was intentionally struck by a car in Forest Hills, police and sources said.

Aranbayev, 40, who co-owned Rafaello & Co., a jewelry store on 47th Street in the Diamond District, was mowed down at 11:15 p.m. Sunday on 71st Ave., between 110th and 112th streets, just step away from his home, according to the NYPD.

Police said that witnesses saw Aranbayev involved in a verbal dispute with the driver of a passing car.

According to the NYPD, at some point the other man, who was driving a dark colored Dodge Magnum, reversed and then sped forward, striking Aranbayev, police said.

The driver then fled on 71st Avenue towards 112th Street, police said.

On Tuesday morning, grief-stricken family members gathered at Aranbayev's home before going to his funeral.

According to Boris Aranbayev, the victim's uncle, on Sunday the jeweler attended the funeral of another family member. His friend was dropping him off in front of his house when another man drove by at high speed, according to the uncle. 

"He said, 'Here is not highway,'" said Boris Aranbayev, referring to the victim. "The guy go back and hit him, that's it."

Police said they could not confirm what the dispute was over.

Witnesses said the car that hit Aranbayev had dark tinted windows. One of the witnesses also described the driver as a “large muscular” man, police said.

Aranbayev, who was known to his clients as "Eric," was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition with severe head trauma. He died Monday, police said.

According to published reports, Aranbayev, whose family came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in the 1980s, opened the store with his cousin and uncle in 2009. 

"He was very intelligent, kind, very friendly, devoted to work and family," said a woman who said she was Aranbayev's wife, but declined to give her name. She said she just stepped out of the house to look at the "scene" where Aranbayev was struck before going to the funeral.

"His work was his life," she added. "It was his passion."

His cousin and business partner Gabriel Jacobs posted Aranbayev's photo on the company's Instagram page Monday. "I love u bro my angel my heart tell grandma and grandpa we all say hello your in great hands now. I will make you proud I promise," he wrote.

According to the company's website, the store specialized in custom-made jewelry including chains, watches and rings which could easily cost $20,000 a piece. 

Aranbayev's Instagram account featured many pictures of him with celebrities including Sean Combs, Khloe Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning, authorities said.