The Glamorous Life and Grisly Death of Ben Novack Jr.
Just There on Business
Until he was killed in July 2009, Florida millionaire and entrepreneur, Ben Novack Jr., 53, lived the good life.
He had grown up in one of Florida's most famous and rich families. As the son of Ben Novack, he'd had an unusual childhood playground: the notorious Fontainebleau, a luxurious hotel in South Miami Beach, where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams and Marilyn Monroe, had stayed.
When it appeared in the 1950s, the hotel, a sprawling, 1,504-room property upped the stakes in the high-end resort game. Its signature facade has since been featured in numerous movies, including the James Bond film, Goldfinger, cementing in it pop culture memory. Its unique design, including an elaborate two-story grand staircase, earned it a place in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The success of the Fontainebleau launched the Novack family into high society. His mother, Bernice, a beautiful and poised ex-model would meet and greet foreign dignitaries, celebrities, and powerful politicians, in the family's penthouse suite.
Novack Sr. was a compact but charismatic man who came to Miami Beach from New York. After several failed ventures in real estate, he finally hit it big with a small hotel in South Miami Beach during World War II, setting him on the path to the Fontainebleau.
Later, after his father died — his business empire jeopardized by bankruptcy — Novack Jr. would stabilize the family fortune, and then become famous for a more eccentric reason: He was a world-renowned collector of Batman memorabilia and could boast ownership of an actual Batmobile.
Later, in his 30s, Ben Novack Jr. did what many rich, idle men in resort areas do: He married a former stripper, indulging in another flashy acquisition.
But Ben Novack Jr.'s death would not be as glamorous as his life.
It would end in a hotel room far away from the luxury of the Fontainebleau, at the Hilton Rye Brooke Hotel, in Rye Brooke, N.Y. The end would be brutal and cruel. And it may have come at the behest of his own wife.
On the weekend of July 12, 2009, Novack had gone up to New York for business. Though he was also an entrepreneur, his business had less flash than his father's. His company, Convention Concepts Unlimited, which he ran from his house in Fort Lauderdale, focused mostly on one client: Amway. He planned major conventions for the company and traveled around the country to oversee the events.
On July 10, Novack flew to Newark International Airport. He brought his wife, Narcy Novack, and her daughter, May Abad, to the 455-room Hilton for yet another Amway conference. The conference was a big one — over 1,000 guests had converged. On July 12, according to Narcy Novack's statements to the police, Ben worked throughout the night, staying up till dawn at 6:30 a.m., before finally going to bed. Around 7:15 a.m., Narcy Novack — full name Narcisa Cira Veliz Pacheco Novack — told police she left the room to get breakfast. Hotel security videos show her leaving the room.
She told police she returned to the room 45 minutes later and found a gruesome scene.
The last minutes of Ben Novack Jr.'s life were spent on the floor, bound and gagged. Duct tape was used to bind his hands behind his back, and his legs together around his knees.
He had been brutally bludgeoned. Later, it was determined that he may have been suffocated by a pillow.
Novack lay face down on the floor covered in blood, according to the search warrant. By the time the police arrived at the room at 7:57 a.m., he was already dead. A murder weapon was not immediately identified by the police.