Thomas Lee, a US billionaire banker, died at 78, his family reports

In New York: Thomas H. Lee, an American financier who is regarded as a pioneer of leveraged buyouts and private equity investment, passed away on Thursday at the age of 78, according to a statement from his family. The cause of death was not specified.

Lee was found dead on Thursday morning at his Fifth Avenue Manhattan office, headquarters of his investment firm, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the New York Post, citing unidentified police sources.

The Post reports that around 11:10 a.m. (1610 GMT), police responded to an emergency 911 call and discovered him.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the death’s cause. A “male who was pronounced dead at the scene” was discovered by emergency medical services responding to a 911 call on Fifth Avenue around that time, according to the New York Police Department.

The police did not provide any additional information and stated that the city medical examiner’s office would determine the manner and cause of death.

It was not immediately possible to obtain a response from the coroner’s office.

In a statement, Lee’s family said, “The family is extremely saddened by Tom’s death.” We are brokenhearted. We ask that you respect our privacy and allow us to grieve.”

According to a biographical statement released by his family, Lee was the founder and chairman of Lee Equity, which he established in 2006. He also held the position of chairman and CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, which he established in 1974.

During the course of the previous 46 years, Lee was in charge of spending more than $15 billion in many deals, including the purchase and subsequent sale of the Warner Music and Snapple Beverage businesses.

He was also well-known as a trustee and philanthropist who served on the boards of numerous institutions, including the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Brandeis University, Harvard University, and the Lincoln Center.

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