A top executive at retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond jumped to his death from a Manhattan high-rise two days after the struggling company announced plans to slash its workforce and close 150 stores.
Gustavo Arnal, 52, who was the company’s chief financial officer, leapt from the 18th floor of the iconic 57-story Tribeca building known as the Jenga tower, where apartments sell for as much as $50 million. The company’s reorganization plans comes amid a nearly 70% slide in its stock price over the last year driven by slumping sales and a “meme” trading trend.
“We are embracing a straight-forward, back-to-basics philosophy that focuses on better serving our customers, driving growth, and delivering business returns,” Interim CEO Sue Gove said in a call with investors two days before Arnal’s suicide.
Gove took the troubled company’s reins in June after CEO Mark Tritton was fired by the board of directors.
The company, which has 900 stores, intends to lay off 20% of its 32,000 employees. Arnal sold over 42,000 shares of the company, whose stock symbol is BBBY, for $1 million just over two weeks ago, according to MarketBeat.com. He retained 267,896 shares, valued at the time at over $6 million.
Arnal joined the company in 2020 after stints at Avon and Proctor & Gamble. He came on board during the early stages of the COVID pandemic, when the company’s struggles were just beginning.
“Gustavo exemplifies this and his experience delivering business transformation at other leading companies, his deep knowledge of the retail and consumer goods space, as well as his energy and drive will help accelerate our transformation plans,” the company said at the time.
The company’s stock has been whipsawed by so-called “meme” traders who buy up shares of a stock hedge funds are shorting, or betting on to fall. Meme traders strategize on Reddit to drive up the price of the outstanding shares short sellers will need to cover their bets. It leaves the big investors with no choice but to buy the stocks at higher prices and incur big losses. But when the meme investors pull out, the stock once again craters.
Arnal sold his stock on the same day a 20-year-old college student made headlines – and a $110 million profit — by selling his Bed Bath and Beyond shares just before the price fell nearly 25%.
The Jenga building from which Arnal jumped was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Neuron and takes its name from its “houses stacked in the sky” appearance, which features misaligned apartments that resemble the popular game.