Larry Harvey, Burning Man Founder, Dies at 70

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Larry Harvey

Those who attended the annual event in the desert were "inspired by his vision to build a more creative, cooperative and generous world."

Larry Harvey, one of the founders of the global summer cultural event known as Burning Man, died Saturday, according to a statement on the organization's website. He was 70.

Harvey never recovered after suffering a major stroke earlier this month. "Our founder, friend and original instigator, Larry Harvey has passed away. Larry suffered a massive stroke at his home on the morning of April 4. We resolutely held out for a miracle. If there was anyone tenacious, strong-willed and stubborn enough to come back from this challenge, it was Larry," the statement read.

"Larry was never one for labels. He didn’t fit a mold; he broke it with the way he lived his life. He was 100% authentic to his core," the statement continued. " For all of us who knew or worked with him, he was a landscape gardener, a philosopher, a visionary, a wit, a writer, an inspiration, an instigator, a mentor, and at one point a taxi driver and a bike messenger. He was always a passionate advocate for our culture and principles that emanate from the Burning Man experience in the Black Rock Desert."

Harvey is survived by his son Tristan, brother Stewart, nephew Bryan and "a global community of devoted Burning Man participants inspired by his vision to build a more creative, cooperative, and generous world," according to a tribute on the Burning Man website.

Harvey grew up on a farm outside of Portland, Oregon. He and his brother were adopted. 

Founded in 1986 by Harvey and friend Jerry James, Burning Man is described as "not a festival" but "a community." In a tribute to the event's 30-year anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter described it as: "Celebrating boundary-pushing self-expression (from Socially Appropriate Boner Day to Rosario Dawson's 2011 vagina-tent installation) and community building (more than 300 individuals worked on one of this year's art projects: two enormous pyramids), it's a mix of participatory artworks with crazy costumes, aerialist troupes, shirtcockers (guys who, as it sounds, wear shirts and nothing else), the anonymous-sex-orgy dome (men can't go alone), fire dancers, yoga and meditation sessions, TEDx talks and, yes, a good many people tripping on a lot of drugs."

Hollywood stars such as Katy Perry, Will Smith, Seth Rogen, Susan Sarandon, Armie Hammer and others, as well as politicians such as former President Barack Obama, have attended over the years.

In lieu of flowers, thoughts and tributes can be shared at larry.burningman.org. Donations can also be made to the Larry Harvey Art and Philosophy Fund.

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