Gustavo Arnal, CFO of Bed Bath & Beyond (BBB), reportedly jumped to his death on Friday, September 2, from a New York City skyscraper where he lived. Arnal, a veteran finance executive who held the role of CFO at BBB since May 2020, was among a number of defendants recently named in a class-action suit, alleging a "pump-and-dump" stock fraud scheme, the Daily Mail first reported. Per WSJ.com, Arnal lived in the 57-story skyscraper, which earned its nickname the "Jenga building" due to its distinctive architecture.
BBB has faced myriad financial struggles in the past few years, most recently announcing it would close 20% of its stores, trim its workforce, and look for ways to recapitalize. Arnal had been brought in amid the pandemic in 2020 to help accelerate the company's recovery, and BBB had announced in August it had secured new financing to increase liquidity.
However, a class-action complaint was filed on August 23, alleging BBB, Arnal, Chewy.com founder Ryan Cohen, and others of artificially inflating the company's share price in order to sell off shares at a higher price before it dropped, the Daily Mail reported. BBB shareholders allege in the suit they lost about $1.2B as a result of the pump-and-dump scheme.
BBB, as the lead defendant, was accused of making a "materially false and misleading statement" in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on August 18, indicating part of the recapitalization would be with RC Ventures, a company also named as a defendant. The suit also claimed JP Morgan Securities aided and abetted the fraud by laundering "over $110 million worth of illegal insider trading proceeds."
Arnal, who police believe died in a suicide leap at 12:20 a.m. at the Jenga building, had unloaded a position of 55,013 shares of BBB stock on August 16, worth over $1M, according to Reuters' calculations. Following the disclosure of Cohen and Arnal's stock sales, BBB shares fell from a "record high $30" to $8.78, according to the suit.
BBB issued a statement via Chair Harriet Edelman, saying, “Gustavo will be remembered by all he worked with for his leadership, talent, and stewardship of our company.” JP Morgan and RC Ventures declined to comment to media outlets.
Arnal spent 20 years in finance roles at Procter & Gamble. Avon appointed him CFO in December 2018, as the beauty company embarked on a new long-term growth strategy.
Arnal had a masters in finance from the Universidad Metropolitana in Venezuela.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-8255.