Billionaire financier Thomas H. Lee was discovered by his female assistant in his office bathroom with a gunshot wound to his head and his Smith & Wesson revolver by his side.
Lee, 78, was found in an apparent suicide in his office at his Fifth Avenue headquarters in Manhattan shortly after 11am Thursday.
The Harvard graduate had a net worth of roughly $2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes.
According to the New York Post, sources revealed his assistant went looking for her boss because his associates hadn’t heard from him.
First responders found Lee lying on his side with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and he was pronounced dead at 11:26am when paramedics’ life saving efforts were unsuccessful.
Billionaire financier and investor Thomas H. Lee, 78, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Thursday. He is pictured in his Manhattan offices with what is believed to be famed Jeff Koons artwork
Thomas H. Lee, 78, pictured here with his wife Ann Tenenbaum in 2019, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Thursday
The NYPD responded to 767 Fifth Avenue — where Thomas H. Lee Capital, LLC is located on the sixth floor — around 11:10 a.m. and found Lee’s body, it was reported
The revolver found by his side was reportedly registered and licensed to him, and the license to the firearm was in the office at the time.
The financier struck gold in his career by acquiring midsized companies, restoring their worth, and then selling them for wild profits – and his technique and success at the time was described as the ‘envy of Wall Street.’
Best known for the sale of Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1992, he was famed on Wall Street as a prominent Manhattan financier during a lucrative career.
His leveraged-buyout deals were legendary in the 1990s – pioneering financial transactions which allowed his company, in some instances, to produce more than 30-fold gains in a matter of years.
He reportedly went by the self-assigned nickname ‘Tomcat’, which he revealed at a 2014 event was because he had ‘nine different lives’.
The family’s spokesperson Michael Sitrick released a statement about Lee’s death on Thursday: ‘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 the founder and chairman of Lee Equity and had served as chairman and CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, according to the Lee Equity website.
He founded his Boston-based firm in 1974, and is credited with being one of the early pioneers in private equity and specifically leveraged buyouts.
In 2010, a fund controlled by Lee was sued by a trustee seeking to recoup money defrauded by notorious Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff.
Best known for the sale of Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1992, Lee, left, was famed on Wall Street as a prominent Manhattan financier during a lucrative career
Lee is pictured golfing with then President Bill Clinton on Martha’s Vineyard in 1999
Lee with former NBC host Matt Lauer and socialite Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo in 2005
An insider who knew Lee told The Post that he was renowned for his business savvy, and claimed that he was the inspiration for Oliver Stone’s ‘Blue Horseshoe Loves Anacott Steel’ from the hit film ‘Wall Street’.
The claim references the secret body language code used by character Gordon Gekko throughout the blockbuster hit.
Despite his ruthless reputation, the billionaire was also described by the source as ‘one of the most generous, and kindest people I ever met.’
He was particularly noted for his successful running of beverage company Snapple, which he initially acquired for $135 million.
After investing $28 million into it, he boosted the company’s revenue from $95 million to $750 million a year before selling it in 1992 for $1.7 billion.
Throughout his career, he invested more than $15 billion in hundreds of transactions.
He was also known as a respected art collector and was connected with New York’s elite powerbrokers, including the Bill and Hillary Clinton.
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.