Mr. Zee, 84; the Caviar Man of Hollywood

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Wladimir Zarotschenzeff, the caviar entrepreneur known as Mr. Zee, died early Thursday, still in a coma as the result of being beaten and robbed last month.

He was 84 and died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was admitted after being beaten unconscious last April 13 behind his Caviar and Fine Foods Inc. on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.

Police remained without witnesses or substantive clues but Robert Dickerson, Mr. Zee’s operations manager, remained hopeful that a $10,000 reward that the company was offering might lead to a suspect or suspects.


A Russian immigrant who started distributing caviar from a refrigerator in his home after the war, Zarotschenzeff was getting out of his car at Melrose and Highland avenues when he was attacked in mid-afternoon.

He was hit from behind, punched in the face and left in a pool of his own blood. It was not known how much the robbers took but those who knew the caviar importer said he never carried more than a few dollars at any one time.

Dickerson said Mr. Zee had been robbed at the same spot a year ago.

Zarotschenzeff is survived by his wife, Ellie, a son, daughter and five grandchildren.