Bed Bath & Beyond’s Gustavo Arnal was overwhelmed before committing suicide

Bed Bath & Beyond CFO Gustavo Arnal was stressed out by the 18-hour days and was considering taking vacation time in the weeks leading up to his suicide, a new report says.

The late manager was also upset about the fallout from his $1.4 million stock sale in mid-August, which he caused because he planned the sale in advance and still held more than $5 million in company shares , the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Arnal was 52 when he fell to his death from his 18th floor in Tribeca on September 2 while his wife was home and paying $18,500 a month in rent. The coroner ruled his death a suicide.

In the week before the Venezuelan immigrant and father of two took his own life, he was in a $1.2 billion pump-and-dump lawsuit against BBB and GameStop chairman Ryan Cohen, named and accused of artificially inflating the stock’s price.

Cohen netted $68.1 million in profits by selling his massive stake on Aug. 16, the same day that Arnal’s $20 limit order sale occurred, according to the article. The BBB stock price lost half of its value over the next three days.

Authorities at the scene after Gustavo Arnal jumped out of the building.
Authorities at the scene after Gustavo Arnal jumped out of the building.
Robert Mueller

The company told The Journal it believes the lawsuit is unfounded and an internal investigation found no evidence of fraud or collusion on Arnal’s part, while revealing the late finance executive had no personal communications with Cohen, a billionaire investor activist, according to the message.

In the months leading up to the stock sale and lawsuit, officials and directors at the home goods chain were reportedly increasingly concerned about the demands Arnal was facing amid the company’s financial crisis, which was being 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.

Bed Bath & Beyond store
Bed Bath & Beyond’s value began to plummet in 2019 as online shopping became king.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cohen announced in March that he had a 10% stake in the company – which was being swept up in the meme stock wave – and called for a restructuring. A number of executives left BBB in the months that followed, 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 had announced that the company would secure new financing and close a fifth of its 800 stores while cutting costs by 20 percent.

At the time, he was working 18-hour days on the restructuring plan while being bombarded with emails from individual investors and plaintiffs, friends and colleagues told the newspaper.

According to the article, BBB executives had considered replacing Arnal but didn’t want to make a change while he was in the process of raising money. He should speak with other executives about potentially taking a “break” from work after the Labor Day holiday, the report said.

Authorities at the scene after Gustavo Arnal jumped out of the building.
The coroner ruled that Arnal’s death was a suicide.
Robert Mueller

“I could see the stress on him,” former Avon Products CEO Jan Zijderveld told the newspaper after having dinner with Arnal and his wife until 1 a.m. in Manhattan six weeks ago.

Arnal reportedly told Zijderveld he was under pressure at work but appeared upbeat and vivacious as he burned the midnight oil.

“He’s the guy who carries the world on his shoulders,” said Zijderveld.

“It was like 24/7, ‘Let’s fix this thing,'” he reportedly said. “He was full of intensity. This is not a half-assed guy.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five counties, you can call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or go to Bed Bath & Beyond’s Gustavo Arnal was overwhelmed before committing suicide


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