Family of billionaire Thomas H. Lee in a ‘somber state’

The family of tragic billionaire Thomas H. Lee, who committed suicide this week in his Manhattan office, is in a “somber state,” according to a friend.

Friends, neighbors and flowers arrived in a steady stream to the family’s East 57th Street apartment building Saturday, as the financier’s widow Ann was spotted briefly leaving with several friends.

A man who knows the family said the days since Lee’s suicide have been rough.

“I don’t think it’s a good time because they’re in a somber state,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

Another resident called for privacy for the family, noting, “They’re suffering.”

Lee, 78, was found on the bathroom floor at his Fifth Avenue office by a female assistant Thursday with a gunshot wound to the head, sources said.

Ann Tenenbaum outside their East 57th residence Friday.
Thomas H. Lee’s widow Ann Tenenbaum outside their East 57th residence Friday.
Robert Miller

Ann Tenenbaum
Ann Tenenbaum and her friends declined to comment about Thomas H. Lee’s suicide
Robert Miller

A pal of the Clintons, Lee was once known as the “envy of Wall Street” and believed to be worth an estimated $2 billion when he died.

White flowers, including hydrangeas, were delivered to building for Tenenbaum, who has been married to Lee since 1997.

His body was discovered after the assistant had gone looking for her boss when he hadn’t been heard from, sources said.

Lee and his wife have five children and two grandchildren.
Getty Images for Film at Lincoln Center

First-responders found Lee, who pioneered the leveraged-buyout industry, lying on his side with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, sources said. There was a Smith & Wesson next to him.

Life-saving efforts at the scene were unsuccessful, and Lee, a father of five kids who also had two grandchildren, was pronounced dead at 11:26 a.m., sources said.

Tenenbaum, looking grief-stricken behind large tortoise shell glasses, returned to her residence at around 11:40 a.m. Saturday, shaking her head “no” as she declined comment.

A woman accompanying Ann said “no comment,” holding up her hand in a reporter’s face.

Thomas H. Lee
Thomas H. Lee was a pioneer of the leveraged buyout and a major philanthropist.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Another neighbor voiced shock at Lee’s suicide.

“I was just in contact with him two days before,” he said, adding “Nobody seems to know” why Lee killed himself.

The city Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Lee’s death a suicide Friday, listing the cause as a “gunshot wound of head.”

Lee was a Harvard grad and also an avid art collector who was on the boards of the Lincoln Center, NYU Langone and Warner Music, according to Forbes.

By the time he died, Lee’s onetime meteoric career had become a mere footnote in the leveraged-buyout industry he helped create, records show.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to

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