Camila Sterling, a 24-year-old aspiring singer, took the elevator up to Room 2805 of the Setai Hotel’s VIP Ocean Suites shortly after midnight on March 30. She went to see David Bolno, Scooter Braun’s business partner and money manager for Drake and Post Malone. Suites with ocean views at the luxury Miami Beach hotel where the couple spent a few hours together cost $1,890 per night. Bolno drove away from the hotel around 4:30 a.m. in a Cadillac Escalade. Sterling remained at home.
When a hotel security guard knocked on the door 8 12 hours later to see why no one from Room 2805 had checked out, he discovered Sterling in the fetal position, unresponsive, in the bathtub. Her death was declared by first responders. Photos from the room show a condom wrapper in the garbage and baggies of pink powder — most likely tusi, a drug cocktail containing MDMA and ketamine. The cause of death was determined to be an accidental overdose.
Two weeks later, the Daily Mail broke the story. According to the report, Sterling ordered room service after Bolno, then 46, left. Sterling’s death, according to Bolno, was a “terrible tragedy.”
Despite the fact that Bolno was initially identified as a person of interest in the case, the Miami Beach Police Department told Insider that he had cooperated and was not suspected of wrongdoing. In April, Bolno told the Daily Mail that Sterling was there “because she was recording music the night before.”
“She’s a client of mine, and she was about to sign a record deal with me.” “I assisted her in making music,” he said, adding, “There’s not much else to it.” (Bolno did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.)
However, Bolno and Sterling’s relationship appears to be more complicated than the executive has suggested. Text messages obtained by Insider revealed that Bolno, who is married with two children, paid the rent on Sterling’s $1.4 million downtown Miami condo and that Sterling referred to Bolno as her “boyfriend” in texts to an apartment broker. In 2021, he also formed an LLC with his initials for the sole purpose of releasing Sterling’s music. According to two of Sterling’s friends, it was an open secret among them that she was dating someone powerful in the industry who was responsible for her rise. All of Sterling’s friends who spoke with Insider requested anonymity because they did not want to be identified while discussing the death of a powerful industry figure.
There is a long history of older men courting attractive young women and promising them the keys to stardom in the music industry, which is notoriously dominated by white men. Sterling and Bolno’s relationship had obvious power dynamics; she was much younger, an immigrant and a woman of color who relied on him for money and industry connections. With his support, doors seemed to open quickly for Sterling, putting her on a fast track to fulfilling her lifelong dream. However, since Sterling’s death, Bolno has worked to distance himself from the tragedy and improve his online reputation. Sterling, on the other hand, has been largely erased, her life reduced to a few salacious tabloid headlines.
“Miami is like Latin America,” one college friend remarked: money determines who gets heard and who “gets lost.”
Camila Lozano, Laura Camila Sterling was born in Colombia as an only child. Her father was in the military, and her family moved frequently, never staying in one place for an extended period of time. Sterling loved music and began taking vocal lessons at the age of 12. She and her parents moved from Bogotá to Miami two years later. They were described as “regular people who just wanted to go to the US and get a better education and better job opportunities” by a college friend. Sterling looked up to American teen pop stars, particularly Selena Gomez. “I identified a lot with her struggles, from depression, from not believing in herself,” Sterling said in an interview with a Puerto Rican podcast last November.
Sterling’s mother returned to Colombia after her parents divorced, while Sterling remained in Miami with her father. One longtime friend, who has given Sterling monthly eyelash extensions for years, recalls her father being extremely protective of his only daughter, calling to check in on Sterling during appointments. “She was a very loved child,” she remarked. “She was tranquilo — a completely relaxed person all the time.” Sterling, on the other hand, was struggling. In a 2022 interview, she admitted that her parents’ divorce had been difficult for her and that moving to Miami had been a culture shock because she didn’t speak the language and struggled with self-confidence.
Sterling grew up in Sunny Isles Beach, a beachfront city full of high-rise condos about 40 minutes from downtown Miami. While the majority of its residents are Hispanic, Sunny Isles has earned the nickname “Little Moscow” due to the influx of Russian money that has fueled its development boom. (Sunny Isles is home to six of Florida’s seven Trump-branded residential buildings.) The aesthetic in the barrier-island community was gaudy excess. Sterling grew up in the Intracoastal Yacht Club, a sprawling condo complex. Residents complained that the units were run-down and infested with roaches, despite the swanky name and the Greco-Roman stone statues flanking the pool.
While Sterling grew up in the middle class — one high school acquaintance said her father worked as an Uber driver — she was always close to the “rich kids of Instagram” scene, according to a friend she had when they were teenagers. Sterling, according to a high school friend, was friends with the “pretty girls” and “had a bunch of guys running behind her.” She worked hard from a young age to project a life of luxury. Sterling was seen in a Facebook photo from her senior year of high school posing outside a Givenchy store with a quilted Chanel bag dangling from one shoulder. After all, conspicuous consumption is in Miami’s DNA.
Sterling attempted to pursue a modeling career in high school. She messaged a photographer on Instagram when she was 17, and they met and took photos in the park near his mother’s house. He recalls her voice’s soft, high-pitched tenor. “She always had this very innocent vibe,” he went on to say. “She was very feminine and very delicate.”
Sterling married her high school classmate Enmanuel Hernández Rodriguez, who lived across the street and was from Cuba, when she was 18. “Our relationship was more like a family love,” Rodriguez explained on Facebook. According to court records, he disavowed any interest in Sterling’s estate after she died, and none of her friends knew she was married.
Sterling moved to a downtown apartment with a high school friend after graduating. They immersed themselves in the Miami nightlife scene, partying until the early hours of the morning at Club Space, an EDM venue known for its after-hours raves.
She briefly studied journalism at Miami Dade College before deciding to pursue a career in music full-time. “If I don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen,” she told a Puerto Rican news outlet in 2022. She resumed music lessons, including piano, and began reading self-help books.
Sterling said in interviews that she met someone who changed her life just as she was starting to take music seriously. After feeling lost and depressed for a long time, she felt as if she had summoned the universe and God had responded. “I can’t say their name,” she admitted in a 2022 interview with the Puerto Rican podcast “Desde El Bunker,” but this individual “gave me the opportunity to be in music and was the first person who believed in me no matter what.” She stated that because the person did not speak Spanish, she would have to translate the interview for them later. “I thank this person for everything, and apart from my parents and myself and God, this is the most important person in my life,” she went on to say.
Sterling announced in 2021 that “2022 is my year” and that the “time has come to start fulfilling dreams.” And she was correct. Sterling’s music career seemingly took off out of nowhere. Sterling began hanging out with a new Los Angeles crowd and flying back and forth frequently, often on private planes, according to a Miami-based producer who worked with her before she debuted “Hookah,” a clubby reggaeton dance track with TikTok-friendly choreography, in July 2022. Sterling was coy about who she was working with, according to the producer, but she couldn’t stop mentioning celebrities like Drake, Scooter Braun, and Lil Pump, implying they had plans to collaborate. “We are not familiar with Camila Sterling and have no plans to work with her,” a Lil Pump representative told Insider.
Sterling was rumored to have been involved with “bad men and drugs” before her death, according to a high school friend.
“When she started hanging out with the Miami music industry,” the college friend said, everything became “completely different,” adding that Sterling drifted away from many old friends in the last year of her life. According to the friend, the sheer amount of money moving through that world could cause people to “lose themselves.”
Sterling released her second single, “Mot,” in October 2022. DTB Records, an LLC bearing Bolno’s initials that he incorporated in Delaware in November 2021, copyrighted both “Mot” and “Hookah.” Sterling was not an overnight sensation — her biggest song has fewer than 700,000 Spotify listens, whereas Taylor Swift and Drake have billions — but it was a good start. She traveled to Puerto Rico for press and filmed music videos in New York City and Medelln, Colombia. They were not low-budget productions. Sterling and her girl squad cruise on a school bus through the streets of Medelln before throwing an underground dance party in a pink mansion where they pop Champagne and grind beneath pulsing disco lights in the video for “Mot.”
DTB Records does not appear to have produced anything else besides Sterling’s two songs. It also does not appear to have a website or a presence on social media. When Bolno founded DTB, he was the chief operating officer of Hybe’s American arm and a business manager for private entertainment clients through NKSFB, a business-management firm that provides financial and concierge services to wealthy artists and athletes.
Bolno joined NKSFB a year after graduating from Temple Law School in 2005. He contributed to the firm’s expansion by advising clients such as snowboarder Shaun White. Before becoming a partner in 2011, Bolno switched to the music industry.
While Scooter Braun, Bolno’s longtime business partner, has become as famous as the celebrities he manages, there are no paparazzi photos of Bolno schmoozing at charity galas or sunning himself on music mogul David Geffen’s yacht. Bolno, like many business executives, has kept a low public profile until recently. His influence, however, extends deep into his clients’ lives, and he’s listed on dozens of LLCs that hold his clients’ real estate, tour companies, and other ventures. He’s collaborated with everyone from Will.i.am to Justin Bieber over the years. Drake wrote in the liner notes to his 2011 album “Take Care,” “To my business manager David Bolno, thank you for pulling my life together and putting me in a position where I can now begin to build my empire.”
Accounting, financial planning, and business entity structuring are Bolno’s areas of expertise. When he told the Daily Mail that he and Sterling had been working on music, industry colleagues were skeptical, pointing out that he hadn’t previously worked on the creative side. Top business managers take 5% of gross income and “only take on superstar clientele — and now suddenly he was going to be the manager of a new developing act?” According to one industry insider. “He’s never matured as an artist in his life.” As a music manager, he does not have a label. He works as an accountant.” Bolno’s IMDb profile lists two production credits: one for a basketball player documentary from 2010 and one for a Mariah Carey concert film from 2014.
According to multiple sources, Braun regards Bolno as a trusted advisor and friend, as well as one of his closest professional associates. Braun made headlines this August after several major clients, including Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, cut ties with him. Bolno and Braun have worked together on several projects over the last 17 years. According to a person with direct knowledge of the deal, Bolno was the chief operating officer of Ithaca Holdings, Braun’s holding company, where he was hands-on in negotiating the acquisition of Swift’s masters. Ithaca was purchased by the Korean entertainment behemoth Hybe in 2021. As part of the agreement, Braun was named CEO of the company’s American division, and Bolno was promoted to chief operating officer once more.
“I believe he has always served as Scooter’s executioner.” He’s the bad guy when he needs to be, and I think that allows Scooter to play the good guy,” said a manager who’s worked with the pair. “Bolno doesn’t really do anything that Scooter hasn’t already sanctioned or approved from a business point of view.”
In 2021, a man named Peter Comisar filed a lawsuit against Braun and Bolno, alleging fraud and breach of contract in relation to a private-equity fund the three men were developing together. Comisar claimed in his complaint that Braun abruptly abandoned his contributions to the fund and that Bolno, “completely unrepentant,” threatened to destroy Comisar’s reputation and livelihood on Braun’s behalf. (On the same day, Braun filed a legal complaint against Comisar, alleging that he had failed to meet his fundraising obligations. The dispute was resolved through private arbitration.)
Bolno’s close relationship with Braun has been complicated for some artists. Bieber left Bolno and NKSFB last fall, a person close to the Bieber camp said. Before they stopped working together, Bolno was involved in brokering the $200 million sale of Bieber’s catalog to Hipgnosis that closed in January. “David Bolno is conflicted in a lot of ways,” the person close to Bieber’s camp said. “Are you the business manager for Scooter, for Hybe, or are you the business manager for talent? I don’t think it’s ever a good idea for any artist when you don’t have separate representation.”
It’s unclear how Bolno and Sterling were introduced, but it makes perfect sense they gravitated toward each other. It was a quintessential Miami fairy tale: He was rich and powerful, with the biggest names in music in his Rolodex. She was young, beautiful, and a five-hour flight from Bolno’s $11 million-plus Brentwood mansion where he lived with his wife and kids. Perhaps at some point he mentioned he’d once been the business manager for her idol Selena Gomez; perhaps he never needed to.
Sterling was a secretive person who kept her circle small, but friends close to her knew that around the time her music career took off she started dating “someone who was important,” as one friend she met through the nightlife scene put it. The friend was particularly impressed when David Grutman, the Miami nightlife impresario behind the clubs LIV and Story, posted about Sterling’s single before it even came out. (Grutman also owns a restaurant with Pharrell, Bolno’s client, and Grutman and Bolno are coinvestors in a fintech company called XTM.) The friend said Sterling never mentioned her boyfriend by name. After the Daily Mail broke the story of her death in Bolno’s suite, the friend said he had no doubt that Bolno was the boyfriend whose identity she’d worked so hard to protect.
There are things beyond our knowledge and understanding when there’s power and money involved.
On TikTok and Instagram, Sterling seemed to be living the good life. In spring 2022, she moved into a $1.4 million apartment with an elevator in the luxe Paramount Miami Worldcenter, a soaring condo building in Miami’s rapidly developing downtown. She posted TikToks of herself dancing to “Hookah” on the balcony overlooking the water and videos of herself doing a skincare routine on her puppy, a gray French bulldog named Blue.
In April 2022, Sterling exchanged messages with the broker about securing a lease for the condo. The broker said she didn’t ask too many questions, adding that the building was popular with clients who valued discretion — including “rappers, celebrities,” and “side pieces” for rich married men.
In the texts and voice notes, Sterling repeatedly pointed to her boyfriend as proof she could afford the $12,000 monthly rent. Asked to write down her record label, Sterling replied in a voice note: “I’m not signed to a record label yet. I’m independent. My partner is my boyfriend, literally.” She seemed uncertain about what to put down as her income. She asked whether it was OK to simply say she made $10,000 a month, adding that she moved “quite a lot of money” through the account she’d use to pay rent.
She encouraged the broker to have the people coordinating the rental contact her boyfriend to prove she had the funds. “I need you to tell them to call my boyfriend back at the time I tell you. At the moment he’s really busy and can’t talk,” she said in a voice note. “Obviously I’m interested in them speaking with my boyfriend because he’s, you know, really big. So can you help me with that, please?”
In a written message, Sterling shared Bolno’s information. “He’s called David and this is his email,” she said, listing Bolno’s cell number and NKSFB work email. “He said they already called him but he couldn’t answer.” Emails also show that Bolno was listed as a reference on Sterling’s rental application.
The broker involved with the rental confirmed that Sterling eventually paid a year’s worth of rent, more than $140,000, up front. “All she said to me was that her boyfriend was going to pay for it and that he’s a producer,” the broker said.
None of Sterling’s collaborators who Insider spoke with had heard of DTB Records, but a producer who worked with Sterling in the last year of her life said they recorded at high-end studios like Miami’s A2F Studios, where Drake, Future, Ozuna, and ASAP Rocky have made music. Sterling also posted photos of herself at Bay Eight Recording Studios in North Miami, which is frequented by prominent artists in Ithaca’s orbit like Migos and Usher. A songwriter who worked with Sterling remembered thinking it was unusual for a new, unsigned artist to be getting such top-dollar treatment; there were always freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies waiting for Sterling and her team at A2F that they’d flock to the moment they arrived, like children at snack time.
“I could have seen her blowing up,” said a person involved with Bay Eight. “I was surprised because I’d never heard of her, but she seemed really professional and to have real backing.”
Several people who worked with Sterling in the last year of her life said she was managed by Nordhia Centeno, a manager and publicist who represents up-and-coming Latin artists. But there were also bigger industry figures who seemed to have a hand in her career. In an Instagram caption listing credits for the “Hookah” music video, its director, Laura Castellanos Torres, identified Edgar Andino as management for the project; Andino, a prominent figure in the Latin music world who made a name for himself as the longtime manager of the Puerto Rican sensation Ozuna, is also listed as a producer in the song’s credits on YouTube and Spotify.
But none of the people who worked with Sterling remembered her ever mentioning Andino. In June 2022, Andino posted a photo of himself and Bolno at the private club Zero Bond with the caption “surround yourself with people that inspire you.” On June 29, 2023, three months after Sterling’s death, Ozuna and Andino signed to SB Projects, Scooter Braun’s management company. Andino did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In the months before Sterling’s death, something seemed to have shifted in her relationship with her mysterious producer boyfriend. One friend heard that though they hadn’t broken up, they “were not on good terms.”
Sterling began talking to her broker about moving into a cheaper unit in the same complex, text messages show. She told the broker that her boyfriend had given her the entire year’s rent up front, and this way she could save money by pocketing the difference. Bank records show that a week before her death she had more than $230,000 in a checking account.
Sterling insisted on meeting in person to talk about the potential move, the broker said, adding that she found that surprising given that it could have simply been discussed on the phone. Sitting together in the vast, sparsely furnished apartment, she got the impression that Sterling wasn’t doing well. She wondered if the young woman might be on something and said she seemed desperate for companionship. “I felt she was very lonely,” the broker said.
Near the end of her life, Sterling had a falling out with her high-school best friend and former roommate, Gabby, a friend who knew Sterling through nightlife said. The friend added that the last time he and Sterling hung out was at Club Space, their regular haunt. That night, he said, Sterling broke down in tears, saying she felt intense pressure to make it as a singer and was worried she was going to blow her shot. “The pressure was on her because she had this chance, and she got there faster than others,” he said.
“She felt that she didn’t deserve it, that there was people out there with more talent. She was questioning herself,” the friend said. “My advice to her was like: You have it, enjoy it,” he said, telling her, “It’s yours — take it.”
It’s not clear how often Sterling and Bolno met up. He later told the police that he was in Miami to meet with a client the week she died, though he didn’t specify who. Earlier that week his biggest client, Drake, was spotted by a fan at the Setai, where two hotel staffers said he’s a regular. “His whole team likes to come here and hang out because there’s not a lot of paparazzi,” said one bartender at the hotel’s Ocean Grill, a beachside restaurant with crystal chandeliers hanging from dark wood beams.
The night before she died, Sterling texted her dad to tell him she’d taken her epilepsy medicine. At 11 p.m., a car picked her up from the Paramount Miami Worldcenter, and she arrived at the Setai just after midnight. CCTV footage shows Bolno leaving the room at about 4:30 that morning. A note from the hotel’s concierge addressed to Bolno said a Cadillac Escalade had been ordered to pick him up at 4:45 a.m. and take him to the airport. Representatives for the Setai said they could not comment on the case.
Police records say a woman with “slow speech” called the Setai’s front desk to order breakfast to Room 2805 at 8:18 a.m. After knocking several times, a staff member entered the room but left upon seeing nobody in “entry sight.” When the hotel called Bolno a few hours later to ask why nobody had checked out, he said a woman was still in the room, the records say. Members of the hotel’s security staff went to conduct a welfare check. When they entered, they found Sterling unresponsive in the fetal position in the bathtub, performed CPR, and called 911. The fire department pronounced her dead at 1:22 p.m.
Sterling’s clothes were all over the hotel room, including a Juicy Couture tracksuit, Yeezy sneakers, a Cartier Juste un Clou bracelet, and a $3,000 Balenciaga purse. One open packet of Trojan Fire and Ice condoms was in the trash, and there were baggies of the pink drug in her purse and on the table. Unreal Mobile and Red Pocket Mobile were mentioned in a handwritten note left on the floor. There were bullet points labeled “brand and branding,” “creators on top,” and “not owned IP” below — possibly plans for an endorsement deal.
“I had vacated the room in the earlier part of the morning, so I wasn’t there when they found her,” Bolno explained to the Daily Mail, adding, “I really liked her.” I was assisting her in her musical endeavors.” When asked why she was staying with him in the first place, he simply stated, “I let her stay there, there’s not much more to it.”
According to a report from the Miami Beach Police Department, Bolno gave a recorded statement to police on April 4 in Miami. He was represented by Bruce Lehr, a Miami criminal defense attorney who has defended people accused of drug trafficking, Medicare fraud, and Ponzi schemes. Bolno told the cops that he and Sterling met so late because his client meeting had gone on too long. He claimed to have worked on music with Sterling for two years. Sterling was using tusi in his presence the night of her death, according to Bolno; he said he’d seen her use it before, but only socially, and that she didn’t use alcohol or narcotics. She appeared to be sober by the time he left. He stated that he texted her when he arrived at the airport but did not receive a response.
Fabio Cabrera, the case’s lead detective, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Ernesto Rodriguez, a department spokesman, told Insider on September 14 that the investigation was closed and that Bolno had been “ruled out as a subject” and had “fully cooperated” with the police. The police reports did not say who supplied Sterling with the drugs.
Sterling’s name did not appear in the press for more than two weeks. The Daily Mail broke the story on April 13; while the article initially stated that Bolno was a person of interest, archived versions show that he was not.
Bolno has appeared to distance himself from the tragedy since Sterling’s death. More than 60 stories appear in Google search results for Bolno’s name from blogs and websites such as Eighty MPH Mom and The European Business Review, which charge for publishing sponsored content that can improve a person’s SEO.
These stories portray Bolno as a model businessman, offer trite advice, and highlight his charitable contributions, including a large donation to establish a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, where his wife, a pediatric ophthalmologist, is a graduate. “David Bolno is a contemporary superhero who doesn’t need an alter ego in a world full of capes and masks,” one such article in The Jerusalem Post says, adding that it was written “in cooperation” with Bolno. It goes on to say that “David Bolno is ultimately more than simply a name; it is a symbol of transformation and optimism.”
However, within the music industry’s upper echelons, “everyone knows” what happened in Bolno’s hotel room that night, according to an industry insider. Bolno’s friendship with Braun, who is dealing with his own public-relations crisis, has only fueled the rumors and speculation. One person who did business with Braun and Bolno last spring said the pair appeared “distracted” and ghosted him after Sterling’s death. In September, Mickey Segal, the managing partner of NKSFB, told Insider that Bolno was still employed by the firm.
Sterling’s family has not spoken publicly, and her manager, Nordhia Centeno, has not responded to multiple interview requests. However, a message sent from Centeno’s email address on behalf of Sterling’s mother in September asked Insider to stop reporting on Sterling’s death. “I’m Nubia Esperanza Sterling Artunduaga.” Camila Sterling was my daughter,” said the note, which was written in both English and Spanish. The loss of Sterling’s life was “made so much worse when the tabloid media began publishing horrible stories about my daughter’s death,” and she went on to say that “these horrible stories served no purpose other than to assassinate the good character of my daughter by highlighting the tragic circumstances of her death.” Sterling was said to have always sent money home to her family in Colombia, which her mother used to buy supplies for children in her village. “Camila was like an angel to us,” the statement said.
Others close to Sterling have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of closure and what they perceive to be a culture of silence surrounding her death. When Insider knocked on Sterling’s door and asked for an interview, one of her coworkers said, “There are people who will probably crank me for life for talking about this.”
According to probate case records, Sterling’s father chose to have her cremated two days after her death. The Daily Mail report alerted some of her friends to her death. “We didn’t have a funeral or anything,” a friend who knew her through nightlife said, adding that the tabloids’ focus on Sterling’s drug use irritated him.
The news devastated Rocio Cruz Maldonado, a publicist in Puerto Rico who accompanied Sterling on two press tours there. She claimed she tried to get more information from Centeno and a publicist in the United States, Marcie Stefan, but they refused.
The producer who worked with Sterling prior to “Hookah” called the silence following her death “very odd.” Few of Sterling’s collaborators, including producers, stylists, dancers, and others, who eagerly promoted her songs when they were released, appear to have posted about her death.
“I’d go online every day, trying to type in the name, and nothing would come up,” her college friend explained. “There are things beyond our knowledge and understanding when there’s power and money involved.”