Billionaire Investor Thomas H. Lee Dead at 78, Family Says

  • A family spokesperson announced Thursday that Thomas H. Lee died. He was 78.
  • NYPD told Insider a man was found dead in the office but did not confirm the identity.
  • “The investigation remains ongoing at this time,” an NYPD spokesperson wrote in an email.

Billionaire investor and financier Thomas H. Lee has died, according to a statement published Thursday from family spokesperson Michael Sitrick. He was 78.

Sitrick declined to comment on the cause of death.

The New York Post reported that Lee was found inside his Manhattan office on Fifth Avenue with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, citing police sources. Police responded to an emergency call from 767 Fifth Ave. around 11:10 a.m., according to the report. Insider could not confirm the Post’s reporting.

A spokesperson from the New York Police Department said in a statement to Insider that police responded to a call from Fifth Avenue, “within the confines of the Midtown North Precinct,” and emergency medical services pronounced a male dead at the scene. The spokesperson did not confirm the identity of the individual.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will determine the cause of death. The investigation remains ongoing at this time,” an NYPD spokesperson wrote in an email.

Lee founded his namesake private equity firm, Thomas H. Lee Partners, in 1974, which focused on leveraged buyouts and purchasing midsize companies.

According to The New York Times, Lee started the firm with $150,000 from an inheritance and a loan from his brother.

In one of its most notable acquisitions, Thomas H. Lee Partners purchased Snapple for $135 million before selling it two years later to Quaker Oats for $1.7 billion, The Times reported.

He “was a pioneer and lion of the private equity and leveraged buyout industries, with the purchase and subsequent sale of Snapple Beverages and Warner Music among his many successful transactions,” his family wrote in a statement.

“Over the past 46 years, Mr. Lee has been responsible for investing over $15 billion of capital in hundreds of transactions,” according to the family.

Lee stepped down from Thomas H. Lee Partners, a $12-billion-firm at the time, in 2006 and formed Lee Equity that year.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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