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Gustavo Arnal fell from a New York skyscraper known as the ‘Jenga’ tower in downtown Manhattan. Photo: Shutterstock

Bed Bath & Beyond CFO Gustavo Arnal dies in fall from New York skyscraper

  • Gustavo Arnal fell to his death from a skyscraper in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood
  • Arnal was among several parties named in a civil class action securities fraud suit

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc’s chief financial officer fell to his death from New York’s Tribeca skyscraper known as the “Jenga” tower on Friday afternoon, police said on Sunday, days after the struggling retailer announced it was closing stores and laying off workers.

Gustavo Arnal, 52, joined Bed Bath & Beyond in 2020. He previously worked as CFO for cosmetics brand Avon in London and had a 20-year stint with Procter & Gamble, according to his LinkedIn profile.

On Friday at 12.30pm, police responded to an emergency call and found a 52-year-old man dead near the building who suffered injuries from a fall. Police identified the man as Gustavo Arnal.

The police statement did not provide further details on the circumstances leading to Arnal’s death and said the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office would determine the cause of death.

Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed his death in a press statement on Sunday but gave no details.

The big-box chain – once considered a so-called “category killer” in home and bath goods – has seen its fortunes falter after an attempt to sell more of its own brand, or private-label goods.

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Last week, Bed Bath & Beyond said it would close 150 stores, cut jobs and overhaul its merchandising strategy in an attempt to turn around its money-losing business.

It forecast a bigger-than-expected 26 per cent slump in same-store sales for the second quarter and said it would retain its buybuy Baby business, which it had put up for sale.

Arnal sold 55,013 shares in Bed Bath & Beyond in multiple transactions on August 16-17, Reuters’ calculations showed based on SEC filings. The sales amounted to about US$1.4 million, and Arnal still had almost 255,400 shares remaining.

On August 23, the company, Arnal and major shareholder Ryan Cohen were sued over accusations of artificially inflating the firm’s stock price in a “pump and dump” scheme, with the lawsuit alleging Arnal sold off his shares at a higher price after the scheme.

The home goods retailer said it will close about 150 of its namesake stores. Photo: EPA-EFE

The class action lawsuit listed Arnal as one of the defendants and was brought by a group of shareholders who claimed they lost around US$1.2 billion.

The filing in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleged that Arnal “agreed to regulate all insider sales by BBBY’s officers and directors to ensure that the market would not be inundated with a large number of BBBY shares at a given time.”

The lawsuit also alleged that he issued materially misleading statements to investors.

The company said it was “in the early stages of evaluating the complaint, but based on current knowledge the company believes the claims are without merit.”

Shares in Bed Bath & Beyond have been highly volatile in recent months, being viewed as a so-called “meme” stock, which trade more on social media sentiment than economic fundamentals.

Cohen, a billionaire investor, disclosed a stake of nearly 10 per cent in early March. Cohen’s RC Ventures disclosed plans to sell its stake on August 17.

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