Billionaire financier Thomas H. Lee found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound in NYC office: sources


February 23, 2023 | 6:42 pm

Billionaire financier and investor Thomas H. Lee was found dead Thursday morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Manhattan office, police sources said.

Police responded to an 911 call at 767 Fifth Avenue — where Thomas H. Lee Capital, LLC is located on the sixth floor — around 11:10 a.m., according to the sources.

EMTs pronounced the 78-year-old businessman dead at the scene.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s office determines the official cause of death.

“The family is deeply saddened by Tom’s passing. While the world knew him as one of the pioneers of the private equity business and a successful businessman, we knew him as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, sibling, friend and philanthropist who always put the needs of others before his own. place,” said the Lee family. friend and spokesperson Michael Sitrick said in a statement.

“Our hearts are broken. We ask that our privacy be respected and that we may grieve.”

Thomas H. Lee, 78, was found dead in his Manhattan office from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Lee is credited with developing the leveraged buyout.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lee is credited with being one of the first financiers to buy companies with borrowed money against the company being bought – what is now called a leveraged buyout.

He founded Thomas H. Lee Partners, LP in 1974 and served 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 him 32 times his money.

But things didn’t always go according to plan.

In 1999, Lee led a deal for what was renamed Vertis Communications, the fifth largest North American printer. In 2006, when many peers had expanded to offer other services such as marketing, it dropped to ninth because it didn’t have the money to do the same. Vertis filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Lee and his longtime partners parted ways in 2005, with Thomas H. Lee Partners led by Scott Sperling, and Lee left in 2006 to found Lee Equity Partners, where he served as chairman until his death Thursday.

An oceanfront mansion in the Hamptons owned by Lee in 2008.
Doug Kuntz
Lee once owned Snapple and earned 32 times his investment.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lee also sat as a trustee for several Big Apple arts organizations, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

A woman who answered the phone at Lee Equity Partners declined to comment Thursday afternoon.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or to

Additional reporting by Josh Kosman

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