Andrew Breitbart spent his final hours much like he lived most of his life: passionately talking politics.
Breibart, the 43-year-old conservative pundit and provocateur who died suddenly early Thursday while walking near his Los Angeles home, had stopped into The Brentwood, a nearby bar and restaurant. There, he struck up a conversation with Arthur Sando, a marketing executive who didn’t know Breitbart but likely was the last person to talk extensively with him before he died.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sando says he arrived at the bar in the tony Brentwood section of L.A. around 10 p.m. and soon the empty seat next to his was filled by a man with a familiar face.
“I tried to figure out how I knew him,” says Sando, a veteran publicity and marketing executive who works for dietary supplement company MonaVie and has worked at CBS, King World Prods and Turner Broadcasting. “He was on his BlackBerry. And I said ‘Andrew?’ I told him I had seen his work.”
Sando says the duo quickly struck up a conversation that would last a little less than two hours.
“He was friendly and engaging,” Sando recalls. “I said, ‘You can’t be very happy with the slate of Republican candidates’ and he said, ‘Why would you say that?’ I said, ‘Well, they’re talking about contraception,’ and he said, ‘The conversation is being framed by the liberal media.’ I said, ‘Well, the media isn’t writing Rick Santorum’s speeches for him.’ We had a back-and-forth for awhile until we said we weren’t going to agree on some things.”
The friendly debate continued in the bar as Breitbart sipped red wine, says Sando. “We just hit it off, he was delightful. There were other people who sat down and joined the conversation.”
Sando also mentioned that he hadn’t seen Breitbart as a guest on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher recently; Breitbart told Sando he enjoyed going on Maher’s show because it taught him how to deal with a hostile audience and how to react when getting booed.
Breitbart had stopped in for a drink but wasn’t there to meet anyone in particular, Sando says. Nor were there any signs of health or other problems.
“He wasn’t drinking excessively,” Sando recalls. “He was on his BlackBerry a lot.”
After the two hours, Breitbart said he was leaving. “We exchanged contact information,” Sando says. “We were going to get together.”
Sando says he was “shocked” to read Thursday morning that Breitbart, who had a history of heart problems, had collapsed while on a walk near his home in the same neighborhood as the bar. Breitbart was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead at 12:19 a.m., according to Reuters, less than an hour after leaving The Brentwood.
The exact cause of death has not been revealed but initial reports said it was natural causes.
“There were no signs that anything was wrong,” says Sando. “It’s very sad.”