The sudden and tragic death of Gustavo Arnal, Chief Financial Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., sent shockwaves through the business world. Arnal, 52, lost his life in a fatal fall from New York’s renowned Tribeca skyscraper, often referred to as the «Jenga» tower. This heartbreaking incident occurred just days after the struggling retail giant made headlines with the announcement of store closures and workforce reductions.
Gustavo Arnal, a seasoned finance executive, joined Bed Bath & Beyond in 2020. His impressive career included serving as the CFO of the cosmetics brand Avon in London and a remarkable 20-year tenure at Procter & Gamble, as detailed on his LinkedIn profile.
The tragic event unfolded on a Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. ET (1630 GMT) when local authorities responded to a 911 call. They discovered the lifeless body of a 52-year-old man who had sustained fatal injuries from a fall near the distinctive skyscraper. The victim was later identified as Gustavo Arnal. The police statement did not provide additional information regarding the circumstances leading to his untimely death, deferring to the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office for an official cause of death determination.
Bed Bath & Beyond acknowledged the passing of Gustavo Arnal in a press release issued on Sunday, although specific details were not disclosed.
Bed Bath & Beyond, once a dominant force in the home and bath goods sector, has faced formidable challenges recently. An ill-fated shift towards promoting private-label products contributed to the retailer’s struggles. Last week, the company unveiled a comprehensive strategic overhaul, which included the closure of 150 stores, staff reductions, and a complete reimagining of its merchandising strategy. Additionally, the company projected a larger-than-anticipated 26% decline in same-store sales for the second quarter. However, it opted to retain its buybuy Baby business, which had initially been slated for sale.
Amid these transformative developments, it was revealed that Gustavo Arnal had engaged in the sale of 55,013 shares in Bed Bath & Beyond through multiple transactions on Aug. 16-17, totaling approximately $1.4 million in proceeds. Notably, he retained nearly 255,400 shares despite these sales.
On Aug. 23, Bed Bath & Beyond, Arnal, and major shareholder Ryan Cohen faced a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged their involvement in artificially inflating the company’s stock price, a practice often referred to as a «pump and dump» scheme. Arnal was accused of divesting his shares at an elevated price following the alleged scheme, leading to substantial losses of roughly $1.2 billion for the shareholders involved.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claimed that Arnal had agreed to regulate insider sales by BBBY’s officers and directors to prevent an excessive influx of BBBY shares in the market. Additionally, it alleged that he disseminated misleading statements to investors. Bed Bath & Beyond responded by stating that it was in the early stages of evaluating the complaint but expressed its belief that the claims were devoid of merit.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock has been characterized by considerable volatility in recent months, often falling into the category of «meme» stocks, which are influenced more by social media sentiment than traditional economic fundamentals. Notably, billionaire investor Ryan Cohen disclosed a stake of nearly 10% in the company in early March, and his firm, RC Ventures, disclosed plans to divest its stake on Aug. 17.