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Wealthy investor Age 78 marks Thomas H. Lee’s passing.

A statement from his family said that billionaire investor and pioneer of private equity Thomas H. Lee passed away on Thursday at the age of 78.

According to an email sent to CBS MoneyWatch on Friday, Lee committed suicide in New York City.

During his 46 years in the financial industry, Lee, whose net worth was estimated by Forbes magazine to be $2 billion, established Lee Equity in 2006. The financier is perhaps best known for having purchased and sold the beverage manufacturer Snapple, which his company at the time did in 1992 for $135 million.

 He sold it to Quaker Oats Co. for $1.7 billion two years later, expecting an extraordinary yield on his investment.In their statement, Lee’s family asked for their privacy to be respected. 

While the rest of the world knew him as a successful businessman and one of the industry’s pioneers, they said in the statement that they knew him as a loving husband, father, grandfather, sibling, friend, and philanthropist who always placed the needs of others before his own.

Lee, a Harvard alumnus, gave $22 million to his alma school in 1996, making it one of the largest gifts ever made to the institution. According to Lee Equity, Lee had held board positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art.

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