Billionaire financier and investor Thomas H. Lee was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his office in New York City on Thursday according to the New York Post.
78 year old Lee was confirmed dead in a brief statement released by his family who did not mention the cause of death.
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In the statement, family friend and spokesman Michael Sitrick said:
“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 chairman of private equity firm Lee Equity Partners, which he founded in 2006. He was also good friends with former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, who he supported during her presidential campaign.
According to the Mail Online: in June 2008, following Hillary’s unsuccessful presidential run, the couple reportedly stayed at his (Lee’s) East Hampton home.”
New York Post reports:
Cops 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.
EMTs pronounced the 78-year-old businessman dead at the scene.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the official cause of death.
A front desk worker at Lee’s office building was told there was an “emergency,” on the sixth floor, but was unaware of Lee’s death.
“They don’t want anyone going to that space right now, not even the building staff,” the man said.
Lee is credited with being one of the first financiers to purchase companies with money borrowed against the business being bought — what is now called a leveraged buyout.
The Harvard graduate founded Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. in 1974, serving as the chairman and CEO of the company and its predecessors.