NEW YORK — The chief financial officer at Bed Bath & Beyond jumped to his death from his luxury apartment in Tribeca — days after the troubled retail chain announced it would shutter 150 stores, police said Sunday.
Gustavo Arnal, 52, died after leaping from a window of the Leonard Street building about 12:30 p.m. Friday, police said.
He landed on the roof of a building next door, according to emergency radio transmissions.
Arnal sold 55,013 shares in the company on Aug. 16, according to a Reuters report.
That sale came as the retail chain’s stock was in the throes of a weeklong surge, fueled by the same sort of “meme stock” speculation on forums like Reddit that pushed GameStop’s stock to wild highs last year. The stock, which had slumped below $5 in June, reached a peak of more than $29 on Aug. 17 before the price sharply plummeted.
That steep dive led a Virginia-based investor to file a class-action suit against the company, Arnal and GameStop chairman Ryan Cohen, accusing the two men of running a monthslong pump-and-dump scheme.
Cohen, whom the lawsuit dubbed a “meme-stock champion” and his company, RC Ventures, bought a 9.8% stake in the company in March, gaining three seats on its board, then sold it for a tidy profit starting Aug. 17, leaving investors who followed the internet buzz holding the bag.
On Wednesday, the retail giant announced a plan to close 150 “lower producing” stores and lay off workers, cutting its workforce by 20%. Sales at the store chain dropped 26% last quarter.
The company confirmed Arnal’s death in a statement Sunday.
“I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Gustavo’s family. Gustavo will be remembered by all he worked with for his leadership, talent and stewardship of our company. I am proud to have been his colleague and he will be truly missed by all of us,” said Harriet Edelman, the independent chair of the company’s board of directors. “Our focus is on supporting his family and his team.”
It’s not clear if the company’s troubles, or the lawsuit, played any role in Arnal’s suicide. His family could not be reached for comment Sunday.