Billionaire financier Thomas H. Lee has been found dead in his New York City office with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to reports.
78-year-old Lee was confirmed dead in a statement released by his family.
Police responded to Lee’s office at 767 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan around 11:10 am on Thursday.
His firm, Thomas H. Lee Capital, LLC is located on the sixth floor of the building.
EMTs pronounced the wealthy businessman dead at the scene.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the official cause of death.
Lee, a Harvard graduate, had a net worth of roughly $2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes.
According to the Daily Mail, Lee was a good friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In June 2008, following Hillary’s unsuccessful presidential run, the couple reportedly stayed at his East Hampton home.
“The family is extremely saddened by Tom’s death,” Lee family friend and spokesperson Michael Sitrick said in a statement.
“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.”
“Our hearts are broken,” the statement adds.
“We ask that our privacy be respected and that we be allowed to grieve.”
A front desk worker at Lee’s office building was told there was an “emergency,” on the sixth floor, but was unaware of Lee’s death, according to the New York Post.
“They don’t want anyone going to that space right now, not even the building staff,” the man said.
Lee is credited with being one of the first financiers to purchase companies with money borrowed against the business being bought — what is now called a leveraged buyout.
The Harvard graduate founded Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. in 1974, serving as the chairman and CEO of the company and its predecessors.
In 1992, the private equity pioneer bought Snapple and sold it two years later for $1.7 billion, making 32 times his money.
But not everything always went according to plan.
In 1999, Lee led a deal for what was renamed Vertis Communications, the fifth-largest North American printer.
By 2006, when many peers had expanded to offer other services, such as marketing, it dropped to ninth since it did not have the money to do the same.
Vertis filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
Lee and his longtime partners split in 2005 with Thomas H. Lee Partners being run by Scott Sperling, and Lee left to form Lee Equity Partners in 2006, where he served as chairman until his death Thursday.
Lee was a known philanthropist, particularly for the arts and education.
He sat as a trustee for several Big Apple art organizations, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“I’ve been lucky to make some money. I’m more than happy to give some of it back,” Lee said in 1996 after donating $22 million to his alma mater Harvard University, one of the school’s largest gifts ever from a living alumnus.
For his lifetime of philanthropy, he received the UJA-Federation’s award — named after Jack Nash, a financier who helped create the modern hedge fund business — in 2014.
Lee leaves behind his wife of 27 years, Ann Tennenbaum.
He is survived by his children Jesse, Zach, Nathan, Robbie, and Rosalie, as well as two grandchildren.
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