A US billionaire financier who helped come up with the idea of using debt to buy a company, called a leveraged buyout, has been found dead, his family says.
Thomas H Lee’s family said in a statement that they were “extremely saddened” by his death at age 78. The New York Post says that he killed himself by shooting himself in the head at his office in Manhattan.
The NYPD told the BBC that a 78-year-old man was found dead at 767 Fifth Avenue on Thursday morning. The man’s name was not given.
The office of Thomas H Lee Capital LLC is listed at the address. Forbes says that Mr. Lee was worth $2bn (£1.6bn) at the time of his death.
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The police spokesman didn’t say for sure that the man killed himself with a gun, saying that the cause of death would be found by a medical examiner.
In a statement to BBC News, the police said they had responded to a 911 call from an office on Fifth Avenue shortly after 11:00 (16:00 GMT) on Thursday morning. They said –
“Upon arrival EMS [Emergency Medical Services] responded and pronounced the male deceased at the scene.”
A statement by family friend and spokesman Michael Sitrick said –
“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.”
In addition to being the first person to do a leveraged buyout, Mr. Lee was known for buying the beverage company Snapple in 1992 and selling it to Quaker Oats two years later for $1.7 billion, which was 32 times what he paid for it.
Mr. Lee was also known for giving back to the community. He was a trustee for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Modern Art, both of which are well-known art institutions in New York City.
In 1996, he gave $22 million to Harvard University, where he went to school. Some of this money has been used to help students pay for school. He said at the time –
“I’ve been lucky to make some money. I’m more than happy to give some of it back.”
His wife, Ann Tenenbaum, and his five children will remember him.