Billionaire financier dies by self-inflicted gunshot wound in NYC offices

A licensed revolver was found next to the body of a billionaire financier and investor found dead in the bathroom of his Fifth Avenue office, police sources said Friday.

Officers found Thomas H. Lee, 78, dead with the Smith & Wesson revolver in the bathroom of his office on Fifth Ave. near E. 59th St. in Midtown Manhattan at about 11:09 a.m. Thursday, a police source said.

The revolver was licensed in Lee’s name, the source said.

Lee, a Harvard graduate, founded Thomas H. Lee Partners in Boston in 1974. He left the company bearing his name and formed Lee Equity Partners in 2006, where he was chairman of the firm.

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

Lee was known as a pioneer in the use of leveraged buyouts, where buyers borrow money to make purchases, normally using the future earnings of the acquired company to pay off the loan.

The purchase and subsequent sale of Snapple Beverages and Warner Music were among his many successful transactions, according to an obituary provided by the family’s spokesperson.

Over the past 46 years, Lee has been responsible for investing over $15 billion of capital in hundreds of transactions, according to his firm’s site.

Lee also served as a trustee for many organizations including Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.

He leaves behind his wife Ann, their three children, two children from his first marriage, and two granddaughters.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the cause of Lee’s death.