The Sutton Place Home of the billionaire trustees of museums Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee was previously seen and remembered as a place where a group of billionaire friends gathered to celebrate business success and banter in between electrifying portraits and works of living artists from the 20th century hanging on the walls, giving the place an aesthetic feel, away from the hustle and bustle of the ever busy Manhattan City.
Same as ever, the elites of New York City gathered in the Sutton Place Home this week for the mourning ritual of the Jewish community; Shiva, followed by a more tragic event later in the week, Thomas H. Lee’s tragic suicide attempt on 23rd February. Thomas, who was mainly known as a pioneer of private equity buyouts in New York, kicked the bucket of life at the age of 78, leaving behind a 27-year-old wife, 5 kids, two grandkids, and a list of unanswered questions in the minds of his friends, family, and acquaintances.
Amidst the family mournings and reflections by Wall Street acquaintances on Lee’s death and his legacy, the art museum art market has already begun implying his death scene and causes. Known as a pioneer museum trustee, Lee left behind a fortune of a noteworthy and valued collection of paintings from artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon, and Jackson Pollock. On top of that, the highlight was caught by a blue and red monumental painting of Ellsworth Kelly from 1964 hanging in the salon of Sutton Place Home has already been promised to the Whitney Museum of American Art as a gift, whose board was filled by Lee for as long as 29 years. At the same time, some other photographs found in the place are also promised to the Metropolis Museum of Art as a gift which paid a tribute to the Lee couple back in 2020 featuring the couple’s eyes, named the Last Century of Photography: The Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Collection.
The first ever buyout made by Lee was back in the 1990s, during the post-war era, as a contemporary piece, and marked the beginning of his career in the art world, also known as an essential era in his personal and professional life. Fast forward to the year 2022, his firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, based in Boston, was known for acquiring Snapple for a deal approximately close to $135 million, which he resold to Quarter Oaks after 3 years for a total of $1.7 billion after privatizing it. Lee famously amounted to a total of $927 million from that sale to Quarter Oaks and used that month to launch himself in the world of art as a philanthropist and collector.
But above all, Thomas H. Lee was always known as the icon of Wall Street and his sudden suicide is now making echoes in the art world, resonating with many like him in the market.