A billionaire New York financier who committed suicide at work was discovered dead in the bathroom of his Manhattan office by his assistant, with his revolver by his side.
Thomas H. Lee, 78-year-old, died of an apparent suicide in his office at his Fifth Avenue headquarters in New York shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday.
According to Forbes, the Harvard graduate had a net worth of about $2 billion at the time of his death.
According to the New York Post, Lee’s assistant made the shocking discovery after she went looking for him after his associates were unable to contact him.
First responders discovered Lee lying on his side with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and he was pronounced dead at 11:26 a.m. after paramedics failed to save his life. It is currently unknown why Lee committed suicide.
The financier rose to prominence by acquiring midsized companies, restoring their value, and then selling them for massive profits – his success earned him the moniker “Wall Street’s Envy.”
He began his career as a securities analyst for L.F Rothschild & Company’s research department after graduating from Harvard in 1965.
He later worked in banking, rising to the position of vice president and leading the bank’s high-tech lending group at First National Bank of Boston.
In 1974, he founded Lee Equity, almost a decade into his financial career. During this time, he was recognized as an early pioneer in private equity, specifically leveraged buyouts.
Speaking to DailyMail.com, a resident on the board of directors of Lee’s building, who knew the financier for 23 years, said Lee was known among those he met for having a ‘great sense of humor’.
‘He was a fantastic guy,’ he said. ‘I’m as surprised as anyone. He was a remarkable individual, a successful businessman with a lovely family.
‘He was very upbeat, friendly, and just a really nice guy… He was a great entertainer who always laughed and saw the humor in everything.’
Following Lee’s suicide, the family’s spokesperson, Michael Sitrick, issued a statement saying, ‘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.
‘Our hearts are broken. We ask that our privacy be respected and that we be allowed to grieve.’
Lee was married twice – first to Barbara Fish Lee, in 1968. They had two children, Zach and Robbie, before divorcing in 1995.
He married his second wife Ann Tenenbaum of Savannah, Georgia in 1997 and they had three children: Jesse, Nathan, and Rosalie. He was also survived by two grandchildren.