Tragic Passing of Financier and Investor Thomas H. Lee
On Thursday morning, police sources reported that Thomas H. Lee, a billionaire financier and investor, had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Manhattan office. A pioneer in the private equity world and the founder and chairman of Lee Equity, Lee had served as chairman and CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, according to the Lee Equity website.
Forbes estimated Lee's net worth to be $2 billion at the time of his death. In the past 46 years, Lee has made hundreds of investments totaling over $15 billion, including notable acquisitions and divestments such as Warner Music and Snapple Beverages. He was reportedly one of the first financiers to use borrowed money to buy businesses, now referred to as a “leveraged buyout”.
The Times reported that Thomas H. Lee Partners purchased Snapple for $135 million and then sold it two years later to Quaker Oats for an astonishing $1.7 billion. This is one of their most impressive acquisitions. In 1992, his firm invested only $28 million of its own money to purchase Snapple for $135 million. Two years after Lee had increased the annual revenue from $95 million to $750 million, he sold the company to Quaker Oats Co. for $1.7 billion.
Lee is survived by his wife, Ann Tenenbaum, and his five children. He was a known philanthropist, particularly for the arts and education. He served as a trustee for multiple art organizations in New York City, such as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Forbes proclaimed in a 1997 profile that he was “that rare thing on Wall Street – a genuinely nice guy”. He is a true pioneer in the deal industry.
Officers responded to a 911 call at 767 Fifth Avenue — where Thomas H. Lee Capital, LLC is located on the sixth floor — at around 11:10 a.m., the sources said. Lee, aged 78, was declared deceased at the location. The attempts to save his life were unsuccessful, and he was discovered on the bathroom floor by a female assistant who had gone to find him after not receiving any communication from him the entire morning.
0. “Billionaire financier Thomas H. Lee found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound in NYC office: sources” msnNOW, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/billionaire-financier-thomas-h-lee-found-dead-of-self-inflicted-gunshot-wound-in-nyc-office-sources/ar-AA17RJk9
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7. “U.S. Billionaire Financier Thomas H. Lee Found Dead at 78” The Daily Beast, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/us-billionaire-financier-thomas-h-lee-found-dead-at-78
8. “Billionaire financier dies by self-inflicted gunshot wound in NYC offices” New York Daily News, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-billionare-financier-dies-suicide-nyc-office-20230224-s4y4n4hdg5hehlfppyt7mcgpu4-story.html
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