German billionaire Otto Beisheim has committed suicide in his home near the Tegernsee lake in Bavaria, reports say. Beisheim was a co-founder of the Metro retail group, the fourth largest retailer in the world.India Times writes that Beisheim had been diagnosed with an unnamed incurable illness. He has been found on Monday morning, February 18.
Reports say that the 89-year-old Beisheim believed he had no hope of recovery before allegedly taking his own life.
He leaves behind a fortune estimated at $3.3 billion in March 2012, having been listed as the 22nd richest person in Germany.
Beisheim owned approximately 10 percent of shares at Metro, a “cash and carry,” wholesale oriented department store targeted at small businesses, hotels and restaurants.
Beisheim introduced the store in Germany in the 1960s and debuted the “cash and carry” concept, a business design picked up by major retailers across the world.
A spokeswoman announces that the company does not plan to sell the billionaire's shares at this point.
He also built the Beisheim Center on Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, a large office center and shopping complex used a location for the Ritz Carlton and Marriott hotels.
Beisheim was a widower with no children, leaving his estate to be divided between two non-profit foundations promoting culture and business development.
His life story has brought about some controversy. Active in the military during World War II, the billionaire was said to have served under Hitler as part of the Waffen-SS.
The Beisheim Group has attempted to shed light on the co-founder's role as a Nazi supporter, noting that he had a law rank in the SS and switched divisions in 1942.
“With his self-service cash and carry concept, he revolutionized the sector in the mid 1960s,” says Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch in a statement.