Friends of Andrew Burkle are remembering the life and legacy of the producer and entrepreneur following his sudden death in Beverly Hills on Monday.
Jeremy Greene and another friend who spoke to PEOPLE say Burkle, 26, was a brilliant young businessman who was primed for great things. They say that Burkle was a supportive and reliable friend who wanted to make his father — billionaire businessman Ronald Burkle — proud.
“He was his own person,” the friend says of Burkle. “This was going to be a huge year for Andrew and everyone around him.”
Greene, who described Burkle as “my best friend,” tells PEOPLE the two were also in business together with Greene’s wife, Janelle. On Tuesday, the three were set to launch Mojichat, a startup that makes full-body, animated emojis of gamers.
“He was so much more than the son of a billionaire,” Green says through tears, noting Burkle was an avid gamer. “He was a kid that was going places and he was going with his friends who loved him. Andrew was really special … he worked hard for everything he had.”
Burkle was found dead on Monday at his home in Beverly Hills. The medical examiner has not announced his cause of death.
He is believed to have died early on Monday but was found later that evening. Ron, 67, rushed to his son’s home upon learning of his son’s death.
Police responded to Burkle’s home Monday after receiving a call about an “unconscious male” around 7:26 p.m., a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department told PEOPLE.
First responders “determined the male was deceased” when they arrived on the scene.
Greene tells PEOPLE Burkle was looking forward to 2020 and the launch of his new business venture.
“Andrew was a genius, and we were lucky to know him,” Greene says. “He had a core group of friends who were around him every day, who loved him, and he inspired all of us to be like him … he had a heart of gold.”
Janelle Greene tells PEOPLE Burkle was “a kind, warmhearted friend and business partner,” who “was so genuine and down to Earth. He had such a welcoming presence to him.”
Adds the other friend who spoke with PEOPLE, “We just loved Andrew. There was so much more to Andrew than people will ever know. You would have never known his father was a billionaire because he didn’t carry himself that way.”
“It is with the deepest regret and sadness that we announce the death of Andrew C. Burkle on January 6, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California,” his bereaved family said in a statement to PEOPLE Monday night. “He is deeply loved by his family and friends and will be greatly missed.”
The statement added that Burkle was “a young man full of life and entrepreneurial energy. Everyone he met commented on his humble demeanor and hard work.”
Burkle is survived by father Ron, mother Janet Duitson, sister Carrie Harr and brother John.
Burkle’s father Ron is a co-founder of The Yucaipa Companies and a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. According to Forbes, the businessman is worth $1.5 billion, and has invested in companies like Uber, Airbnb and Foursquare.