‘Iconic’ Billionaire Found Shot Dead in Manhattan Office Building: Report

Billionaire Thomas Lee has died, with one report claiming the 78-year-old financier died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

The report in the New York Post said Lee was found shot in his sixth-floor office at 767 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The Post reported that access to the office was kept to a minimum.

“They don’t want anyone going to that space right now, not even the building staff,” a worker at the building said.

New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will release an official cause of death.

Lee was among the first to profit from what are known as leveraged buyouts, in which a company is purchased and then sold for a profit.

Lee founded Thomas H Lee Partners in 1974, now known as THL, left it in 2005 and went on to found Lee Equity Partners in 2006. He worked as chairman there until his death.

“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,” Michael Sitrick, representing the family, said in a statement.

“Our hearts are broken. We ask that our privacy be respected and that we be allowed to grieve,” he said.

Lee’s former firm called him a pioneer.

“We are profoundly saddened by the unexpected passing of our good friend and former partner, Thomas H Lee,” THL said in a press release late on Thursday, according to the Financial Times.

“Tom was an iconic figure in private equity. He helped pioneer an industry and mentored generations of young professionals who followed in his footsteps,” the statement said.

One of Lee’s greatest successes was the purchase of Snapple for $135 million in 1992. Quaker Oats bought it in 1994 for $1.7 billion, according to CNN.

Lee’s net worth was about  $2 billion, according to Forbes.

Lee donated extensively to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

“I’ve been lucky to make some money. I’m more than happy to give some of it back,” Lee said in 1996 after donating $22 million to Harvard University.

CNN noted that in 1997, a Forbes profile summed up Lee as “that rare thing on Wall Street — a genuinely nice guy.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.