Retail icon Kate Spade, known for her eponymous fashion line, was found dead at her Manhattan apartment on Tuesday. The cause of death was an apparent suicide, an NYPD spokesperson told Forbes. She was 55 years old.
The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
Last year Spade made headlines after her label sold to Coach for $2.4 billion. But she didn’t cash in on that deal. In 1999 she and her partners sold 56% of the business to Neiman Marcus for $34 million, before offloading the remainder in 2006 for $59 million.
In 1993 Spade, a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine, launched the brand alongside her future husband, Andy, whom she met in college. They funded the business with $35,000 Andy had saved. “Even my mother said I’d gotten cocky — and what the heck was I doing giving up a job with [health] insurance?” she told Forbes in 1998.
Just before her first trade show, Spade ripped out the labels bearing her name from the interior of the handbags and affixed them to the outside. After the products appeared in the pages of Vogue, they quickly became a smash success. Annual revenue climbed from less than $100,000 in 1993 to $1.5 million in 1995. By 1998 the company was hauling in $27 million in sales.
A week after the 2006 sale, Neiman Marcus sold Kate Spade to fashion giant Liz Claiborne for a reported $124 million, including debt. Then, in 2014, Liz Claiborne rebranded as Kate Spade & Co.
In 2016 Spade and her husband launched a new line called Frances Valentine, named for their daughter.
Editor’s note: If you are suffering from depression or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for free and confidential support.