American billionaire Thomas Lee, who was considered a pioneer of private equity investment and leveraged buyouts, died by suicide at the age of 78 at his Manhattan office on Thursday, according to a report in the New York Post.
The businessman was declared dead at his Fifth Avenue Manhattan office, the headquarters of his investment firm, on Thursday morning around 11:10 am local time when police responded to an emergency 911 call. The outlet added that Mr Lee died by “a self-inflicted gunshot wound” and life-saving efforts were unsuccessful. He was spotted on the bathroom’s floor in his office by a female assistant. She had gone to look for him since she had not heard from him since morning.
Furthermore, the first-responders found Mr Lee “lying on his side with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head”.
According to a report in Fox News, Thomas Lee’s family friend and spokesperson Michael Sitrick said in a statement, “The family is extremely saddened by Tom’s death. While the world knew him as one of the pioneers in the private equity business and a successful businessman, we knew him as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, sibling, friend and philanthropist who always put others’ needs before his own.”
Thomas Lee was the Founder and Chairman of Lee Equity, which he founded in 2006 and previously served as Chairman and CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, which he founded in 1974. The Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, Brandeis University, Harvard University and the Museum of Jewish Heritage were among the institutions he served on the boards of as a trustee and philanthropist.
Over the past 46 years, the billionaire was responsible for investing more than $15 billion in hundreds of deals, including the purchase and later sales of well-known brands like Warner Music and Snapple Beverages. Reportedly, he was one of the first financiers to buy businesses using money borrowed against the business entity. It is now referred as a “leveraged buyout”.
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