Billionaire financier and investor Thomas H. Lee, who sold Snapple in the 1990s, has died in an apparent suicide at his New York City office, according to officials and his family. He was 78.
Police were called to the sixth floor at 767 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday. When they arrived, they found Lee suffering from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Other details about the circumstances of his death were not immediately released, but Lee’s family confirmed his death in a brief 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,” the family said. “Our hearts are broken. We ask that our privacy be respected and that we be allowed to grieve.”
Lee was perhaps best known for orchestrating the sale of Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994, just two years after he bought it, at a return of 32 times equity. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated at $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Lee was the chairman of private equity firm Lee Equity Partners, which he founded in 2006. He was also friends with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he supported during her presidential campaign.
Over the past 46 years, Lee was responsible for investing over $15 billion of capital in hundreds of transactions, according to a biography on the firm’s website. He also served as a director of numerous public and private companies.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis related to suicide, mental health or substance use, call or text the U.S. Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 to speak with a counselor in your area. If you’re in the UK, call the Samaritans at 116123.