The suicide of billionaire banker Thomas H. Lee got new information on Friday, including how the former “envy of Wall Street” was discovered in his bathroom at work with a sole gunshot wound to the head and his Smith & Wesson pistol beside him, according to law enforcement sources.
In his family office at the Fifth Avenue offices of his eponymous financial firm, the 78-year-old philanthropist and Clinton friend was found dead by a female staffer soon after 11 a.m. on Thursday, according to reports.
The assistant went in search of her boss, a married father of five who founded the leveraged-buyout sector, because she didn’t hear from him, as per sources.
According to sources, first responders spotted Lee, a grandfather of two himself, lying on his side with a self-inflicted head wound from a gunshot.
Inefficient attempts to save Lee’s life resulted in his passing at 11:26 a.m., according to reports.
The gun that was recovered by his side was licensed and registered to Lee in New York City, according to sources. They stated that the permit for the weapon was there at the time.
Lee’s death was declared a suicide by the municipal medical examiner’s office on Friday, with a “gunshot wound of the head” listed as the reason for his death.
Forbes believes that Lee, a Harvard graduate and passionate art collector who served on the committees of the Lincoln Center, NYU Langone, and Warner Music, was valued at $2 billion at the time of his death.
Records indicate that by the time of his death, Lee’s once-promising career had been reduced to little more than a paragraph in the leveraged-buyout sector he had helped establish.
The well-connected financier had earned a large wealth by purchasing firms and using them as security for loans which they were fully responsible for repaying. Given the amount of power, a big win may generate huge gains.
According to a 2015 Boston Magazine feature of his first spouse, philanthropist Barbara Lee, he was the “envy of Wall Street” in the 1980s and 1990s.
His approach was to purchase mid-sized companies, expand them, and then sell them for substantial gains.
For many years, Lee’s largest fund investor was the New York State Pension Fund.
The Post was contacted on Friday by a resident of Lee’s Sutton Place apartment complex in Manhattan who was a board member alongside the Wall Streeter and voiced his sorrow at the individual’s passing.
“I was in contact with him Wednesday — there was no indication [of strife], and I knew him for 20-23 years,” said the neighbor, who declined to give his name.
“I’m as shocked as anybody. He was an extraordinary person, successful, has a lovely family, and they’re all pretty damn good kids growing up, and they’re well-educated.
“You know, if you picked somebody [to commit suicide], I would have never picked him. He was very positive, very friendly, very nice guy.”
A source in private equity with ties to Lee’s business said, “It’s interesting that he [killed himself] at his firm.
“It looks like a big ‘f–k you’ to his partners,” the source claimed.
Even into the early 2000s, Lee still was making money, albeit with somewhat questionable methods.
After cutting ties with THL in 2006 with a number of his importance in various long-term partners, Scott Sperling took over the company that still carried Lee’s brand. Lee later founded Lee Equity, which raised $1.1 billion in 2008.
Lee Equity failed to raise a profitable second fund to withstand the crisis the regular way, therefore existing investors were bought out by a secondary investor who purchases shares at a bargain.
A few years later, there was a more effective fund-raising effort, even though it totalled far less than what Lee Equity raised for its initial fund.
In a statement yesterday, Scott Sperling said THL was “profoundly saddened by the unexpected passing of our good friend and former partner, Thomas H. Lee.
“Tom was an iconic figure in private equity. He helped pioneer an industry and mentored generations of young professionals who followed in his footsteps.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Lee’s family friend and spokesman Michael Sitrick said the Wall Street titan’s family was “extremely saddened” by his passing.
“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,” Sitrick said.