Well-known businessperson and financier Thomas Lee died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 23, 2023, at the age of 78. The investor was one of the first pioneers in private equity and specialized in leveraged buyouts.
Lee started his career way back in 1965 and founded Thomas H. Lee Partners in 1974, which is counted among the largest private equity firms in the world today. It is no secret that the financier had a huge wealth to his name. But how much was his exact net worth? Read on to find out.
Thomas Lee Net Worth
Thomas Lee was a billionaire and had a net worth of $2 billion at the time of his death in February 2023, as per the website Celebrity Net Worth. His wealth peaked in the years 2017 and 2018, when his worth was estimated to be $2.2 billion.
Lee made his first investment from the $150,000 he inherited from his family. He was born to a Jewish father, Herbert C. Lee, who worked for the Shoe Corporation of America. Herbert later became the president of the corporation along with Clark International Corp. Lee went to the Belmont Hill School in Boston and attended Harvard College.
He graduated in 1965 and began his career as an analyst in L.F. Rothschild’s institutional research department in New York City. He then joined First National Bank of Boston and worked there for eight years, eventually becoming the vice president.
Career with Thomas H. Lee Partners
In 1974, Lee founded his own investment firm, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL), aimed at acquiring companies through leveraged buyout transactions. In just 10 years, the firm became the top choice for the new class of private equity investors. In 1985, the company acquired Ohio-based Sterling Jewelers for $28 million.
At the time, Lee invested only $3 million in the jewel company but made $180 million in profit by selling it two years later. In 1992, THL took over Snapple Beverages and, in a way, resurrected the leveraged buyout after the stagnant years of the 1980s and early 90s.
The company was made public in 1994 and sold in 1996 for a staggering amount of $1.7 billion to Quaker Oats. Lee reportedly made $900 million from the deal. Quaker Oats eventually had to sell the company for only $300 million due to poor management.
THL, meanwhile, continued its glorious run and raised over $22 billion of capital in six institutional private equity funds till 2006, completing over 100 investments. The firm’s aggregate purchase price is reported to be more than $125 billion.
Resignation from THL
Lee resigned from THL in March 2006 and went on to form a private equity firm named Lee Equity Partners. The new company aimed more at growth capital transactions instead of leveraged buyouts. Lee was also a philanthropist and donated generously to several causes.
He gave $22 million to Harvard University and was also a major contributor to James Turrell’s Roden Crater project. He served as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University, NYU Medical Center, and Brandeis University.
For more news and updates, keep watching this space.