The billionaire founder of Canadian generic drug Apotex Inc, Barry Sherman, and his wife Honey, were found dead in their Toronto home on Friday under what police described as "suspicious" circumstances.
Police said they were investigating the mysterious deaths after responding to a midday medical call at the Sherman’s home in an affluent section of northeast Toronto. Two bodies covered in blankets were removed from the home and loaded into an unmarked van on Friday evening.
“The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way,” said Constable David Hopkinson. Homicide detectives later told reporters gathered outside the home that there were no signs of forced entry, and no suspects were being sought as of this moment.
Const. David Hopkinson if Toronto Police said they are calling deaths of Honey and Barry Sherman suspicious pic.twitter.com/MJ577PeIdq— Joe Warmington (@joe_warmington) December 15, 2017
The Shermans recently listed their home for sale for nearly C$7 million ($5.4 million). A real estate agent discovered the bodies in the basement while preparing for an open house, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported, citing a relative.
Their neighbors, who according to Reuters include business associates and some of Canada’s most powerful politicians said they were saddened by the deaths.
Deeply shocked to learn of the deaths of Honey and Barry Sherman, such remarkable people. Grappling with this terrible news.— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) December 15, 2017
“Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
Sophie and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman. Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 16, 2017
Linda Frum, a member of the Canadian Senate, said she was "gutted by the loss" of the couple, two weeks after presenting a Senate medal "to one of the kindest and most beloved members of Canada's Jewish community."
Ontario's health minister, Eric Hoskins, described the couple in a tweet as "wonderful human beings, incredible philanthropists, great leaders in healthcare."
I am beyond words right now. My dear friends Barry and Honey Sherman have been found dead. Wonderful human beings, incredible philanthropists, great leaders in health care. A very, very sad day. Barry, Honey, rest in peace.— Dr. Eric Hoskins (@DrEricHoskins) December 15, 2017
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in statement he was “shocked and heartbroken” to learn of the deaths, noting that the couple had made extensive contributions to the city.
“Toronto Police are investigating, and I hope that investigation will be able to provide answers for all of us who are mourning this tremendous loss,” Tory said.
Sherman, 75, founded privately-held Apotex in 1974, growing it into the world's 7th largest drugmaker and the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical firm, with annual sales of more than C$2 billion and over 11,000 employees, by introducing large numbers of low-cost generic drugs that took market share from branded pharmaceuticals. He stepped down as chief executive in 2012 but remained executive chairman.
"All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," the company said in a statement.
Barry Sherman was ranked 363 on Forbes richest people in the world list; the publication put his net worth at $3.7 billion. He ranked just above eBay billionaire Jeffrey Skoll, and was believed to be the 5th richest person in Canada. The couple was known for their philanthropy, giving tens of millions of dollars to hospitals, universities and Jewish organizations, CBC reported. “They were extremely successful in business, but also very, very giving people,” former Ontario Premier Bob Rae told CBC. “It’s going to be a very, very big loss.”
While there is no additional information on whether the suicide was foul play , in February the Globe and Mail reported that Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd was investigating a complaint about a 2015 political fundraiser that Trudeau had attended.