Bed Bath & Beyond CFO Gustavo Arnal died by suicide, medical examiner says

Key Points
  • Bed Bath & Beyond on Sunday confirmed that Chief Financial Officer Gustavo Arnal died, after police had said earlier that Arnal fell to his death on Friday.
  • The medical examiner's office told CNBC that Arnal died by suicide.
  • Bed Bath said in a statement on Sunday that Arnal "was instrumental in guiding the organization throughout the coronavirus pandemic."

In this article

Signage outside a Bed Bath & Beyond retail store in New York, Aug. 25, 2022.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Bed Bath & Beyond on Sunday said its chief financial officer, Gustavo Arnal, died Friday, after police had said earlier that Arnal fell to his death.

The New York City medical examiner's office said Sunday night the executive died from multiple blunt trauma and that he had taken his own life. Arnal left no note behind and did not say anything to his wife, who was home at the time, sources told WNBC.

"The entire Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. organization is profoundly saddened by this shocking loss," the company said in a statement.

Shares of Bed Bath declined Tuesday, as investors weighed the company's leadership crisis following Arnal's death. It recently eliminated some executive positions, including chief operating officer, and is operating under an interim CEO, Sue Gove.

Arnal, 52, fell Friday afternoon from a building in downtown Manhattan, according to police. The iconic skyscraper, known locally as the "Jenga Tower" or the "Jenga Building," has more than 50 floors of uniquely stacked apartments.

Emergency Medical Services declared Arnal deceased on the scene, according to a spokesperson from New York's Office of the Deputy Commissioner, the public information office for the city's police department.

Arnal joined Bed Bath in 2020 from London-based cosmetics company Avon, just after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He also spent 20 years at Procter & Gamble. In Bed Bath's statement on Sunday, the company noted that Arnal "was instrumental in guiding the organization throughout the coronavirus pandemic."

Since joining Bed Bath, Arnal made several purchases and sales of company stock. Last month, he sold more than 55,000 shares at prices ranging from $20 per share to $29.95 per share, for a total $1.23 million, according to a filing. Those sales were made as part of a trading plan he had signed in April. The document also noted he still held 255,396 shares after those latest sales.

Bed Bath's recent struggles

Bed Bath's stock is down 43% this year — and about 90% from its all-time high.

Arnal died two days after the company announced plans to close 150 stores of its "lower producing" namesake stores. The New Jersey-based retailer also said it would be cutting 20% of its staff and added that it had secured more than $500 million in new financing, including a loan.

The cost-cutting measures come as Bed Bath's core business continues to struggle. The company disclosed continuing slowing sales on Wednesday, with same-store sales dropping 26% for the three-month window ended Aug. 27 — a bigger drop than in previous quarters. 

Some analysts say that while the turnaround plan announced Wednesday will improve the company's liquidity position, it won't be sufficient to save Bed Bath's business. Raymond James downgraded the stock Thursday, saying that the cost cuts and new financing "only kicks the can down the road." 

Bed Bath is one of the public companies swept up in the so-called "meme trade," which sees stocks experience wild price swings based on social media hype among retail investors. In August, Bed Bath had multiple days with price moves of more than 20%.

In mid-August, activist investor Ryan Cohen, a major Bed Bath shareholder, exited his position. Cohen's RC Ventures sold its Bed Bath holdings at a range of prices between $18.68 per share and $29.22 per share. After the sale, the stock plummeted 40%.

Bed Bath also faces a class action lawsuit recently filed in the District of Columbia, accusing it of misrepresenting its value and profitability. Arnal is named in the suit, as is Cohen.

Bed Bath told CNBC that it would not comment on litigation. In an SEC filing from Aug. 31, the company noted that it was "evaluating the complaint" but that based on current knowledge, it believed the claims were "without merit."

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor.

Additional reporting by CNBC's Dan Mangan.