Shirley Ballas devastated by death of friend Luca Sartori who supported her in ‘tough’ times
Posted by  badge Boss on Aug 29
‘A very treasured loved one was lost,’ the Strictly judge wrote (Picture: Rex)

has expressed her sadness over the sudden death of a dear friend, who she said was there for her during ‘tough’ times in the industry.

In a post shared on Instagram, the judge paid tribute to Luca Sartori, a late dance costume designer who had a background in ballet and Latin.

The 62-year-old shared a picture of Sartori alongside her tribute, who was born in 1969.

‘Very saddening news for our industry today. A very treasured loved one was lost. My dear friend Luca,’ she wrote.

Referencing Sartori’s partner Vesa Hietala, with whom he founded the costume design company Vesa Design, she continued: ‘I have known Luca and Vesa many years. We have been there for each other when things sometimes got tough in the industry.

‘Luca always made me laugh. He had a unique way of making you feel special. A hug from him helped everything. Those strong Italian arms of reassurance for a woman were unforgettable.’

Reminiscing on her fond memories of Sartori, Ballas shared: ‘I’ll always remember having fittings for my evening wear, they were always a treat. Listening to your design and rhinestone ideas throughout the years were my favourite.

‘Your relationship with Vesa was the envy of many. A kind and caring duo who loved everything about each other. My condolences to @vesahietala and all of his family and friends. Sending you huge love and hugs at this difficult time.’

Ballas concluded her message by writing: ‘I’m going to remember the memories I have for many years and I know many people will carry you in their hearts. Rest In Peace Luca, you were one in a million that has been taken far too soon. Xxx.’

In her tribute, the Strictly judge also shared a poem titled: ‘When Tomorrow Starts Without Me.’

Ballas shared the poem ‘When Tomorrow Starts Without Me’ by David M Romano (Picture: Instagram/Shirley Ballas)

Hietala announced Sartori’s death on Instagram, writing in his caption that his late partner had no prior known health conditions.

‘Yesterday I lost the love of my life, my best friend and my partner of 26 years,’ he shared.

‘Luca had no known health conditions, but had a seizure of some kind and his heart just stopped. The paramedics tried to revive him for 50 minutes, but sadly he never regained consciousness. I have no words to describe my pain and loss.’

Numerous people have shared messages of condolence with Hietala, including Strictly’s Motsi Mabuse, who wrote: ‘❤️❤️ ???? my heart smiles when I remember you . Rest in Peace.’

‘Oh honey I am so very sorry for this great loss….,’ said RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage.

Professional dancer Katya Jones added: ‘I can’t believe it! I am so sorry for your loss. Look after yourself Vesa. Thoughts and prayer to you, the family and friends x.’