Bed Bath & Beyond’s chief financial officer, Gustavo Arnal, was stressed by 18-hour workdays and considered taking time off in the weeks before his suicide, according to a new report.
The late executive was also upset about the fallout from his $1.4 million stock sale in mid-August, as he had planned the sale and still owned more than $5 million worth of company stock, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Arnal was 52 when he dove to his death from his 18th-floor, $18,500-a-month rental in Tribeca on Sept. 2 while his wife was home. The medical examiner ruled her death a suicide.
The week before the Venezuelan immigrant and father of two committed suicide, he was named in a $1.2 billion ‘pump-and-dump’ lawsuit filed against BBB and GameStop chairman Ryan Cohen and charged of having artificially increased the price of the action to be cashed.
Cohen raised $68.1 million in profits by unloading his massive stake on Aug. 16, the same day Arnal’s $20 limit sale took place, according to the report. BBB’s stock price lost half its value over the next three days.
The company told the Journal it considers the lawsuit to be without merit, and an internal investigation found no evidence of fraud or collusion on Arnal’s part while revealing that the late financial executive had no one-on-one communication with Cohen, a billionaire investor activist. , according to the report.
In the months leading up to the stock sale and the lawsuit, officials and directors of the home goods chain were reportedly growing increasingly concerned about the demands Arnal faced amid the financial crisis of business, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. was valued at $17 billion a decade ago, but was worth less than $1 billion when Arnal took the job in May 2020.
Cohen revealed in March that he had a 10% stake in the company – which has been swept away by the meme stock craze – and called on it to restructure. A cascade of senior executives left BBB in the following months, but Arnal was one of the few to stay, according to the report.
On August 31, two days before his suicide, Arnal and other officials announced that the company had secured new financing and would close a fifth of its 800 stores while cutting costs by 20%.
At the time, he was logging 18-hour days on the restructuring plan while being bombarded with emails from individual investors and legal plaintiffs, friends and colleagues told the newspaper.
BBB leaders had considered replacing Arnal but were unwilling to make a change while he was in the process of fundraising, according to the report. He was expected to discuss with other executives the possibility of “taking a break” after the Labor Day holiday, according to the report.
“I could see the stress on him,” former Avon Products chief executive Jan Zijderveld told the newspaper after having dinner with Arnal and his wife that lasted until 1 a.m. six weeks ago. in Manhattan.
Arnal reportedly told Zijderveld he was under pressure at work, but sounded upbeat and lively as he burned the midnight oil.
“He’s the kind of guy who carries the world on his shoulders,” Zijderveld said.
“It was 24/7, ‘Let’s fix this thing,'” he reportedly said. “He was full of intensity. He’s not a half-measure guy.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free, confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
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