US billionaire Thomas Lee committed suicide on Thursday at the age of 78 in his Manhattan office, according to a story in the New York Post. Lee was regarded as a pioneer of leveraged buyouts and private equity investing.
On Thursday morning about 11:10 a.m. local time, police responded to an emergency 911 call and found the businessman deceased at his Fifth Avenue Manhattan office, the main location of his investment firm.
The news source said that Lee passed away from "a self-inflicted gunshot wound" and that attempts to save his life were failed. He was discovered by a female assistant in his office on the restroom floor.
Since she hadn't heard from him since the morning, she had gone to look for him.
Lee's family friend spoke
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."
Prior to becoming the founder and chairman of Lee Equity, which he established in 2006, Thomas Lee was the chairman and chief executive officer of Thomas H. Lee Partners, which he established in 1974.
He worked as a trustee and philanthropist for a number of organisations, including the Museum of Jewish History, Brandeis University, the Museum of Modern Art, and Harvard University.
The millionaire was in charge of investing more than $15 billion over the past 46 years in hundreds of transactions, including the acquisition and later sales of well-known firms like Warner Music and Snapple Beverages.
He is said to have been one of the first financiers to purchase firms using debt secured by the company. Now it's known as a "leveraged buyout."