Brandon Truaxe, the founder of the disruptive Canadian cosmetics company Deciem, has died. He was 40.
The death was confirmed by a spokeswoman at Estée Lauder Companies, which has a minority stake in Deciem, and in an Instagram post by the company. Vox initially reported Mr. Truaxe’s death.
The Toronto police would not confirm the death. A spokeswoman, Katrina Arrogante, said that the police had responded on Sunday to reports of a sudden death at Parliament and Mill Streets, an intersection in the distillery district. The address that Mr. Truaxe gave as his apartment was on Mill Street between Parliament and Cherry Streets.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news of his passing,” the Estée Lauder Companies’ statement said. “As the visionary behind Deciem, he positively impacted millions of people around the world with his creativity, brilliance and innovation. This is a profound loss for us all.”
News of Mr. Truaxe’s death came after a year of unusual behavior from the Deciem founder, much of which was displayed on social media. In Instagram posts on the company’s account, Mr. Truaxe canceled the company’s marketing plans and canceled company partnerships.
Executives began to leave the company in response to Mr. Truaxe’s odd behavior, including Stephen Kaplan, the company’s chief financial officer, and Nicola Kilner, his co-chief executive, who said her employment was terminated by Mr. Truaxe. (She rejoined the company in the summer.) Mr. Kaplan later explained that he had departed “because Brandon’s demeanor had changed following a December vacation in Mongolia.”
Then, after a relatively quiet period, Mr. Truaxe announced in October that Deciem would shut down its operations, claiming, as an aside, that virtually all of the company’s employees had been involved in “major criminal activity.”
The investors interceded, asking a judge to remove Mr. Truaxe from the company to stop him from hurting the business. “He has essentially lit the company on fire,” a lawyer representing the brand said at the time. The company’s application to oust Mr. Truaxe was granted, and management of Deciem was ceded to Ms. Kilner.
After he was removed from the company, Mr. Truaxe’s odd behavior continued, up to and including the days immediately before his death. On Saturday, he posted four videos to his Instagram account, attempting to give tours of his apartment. In them, he gave out his address and apartment number.
“I’ve had a little bit of alcohol to drink tonight,” he said in the second video. “It’s the perfect Saturday night to spend on your own. I love you guys,” he said in the third. The fourth video was addressed to “Mr. President,” presumably meaning President Trump, whom Mr. Truaxe frequently and enthusiastically discussed on Instagram.
Before 2018, Mr. Truaxe was seen as an eccentric but successful visionary for his work with Deciem. One of the company’s brands, The Ordinary, was particularly beloved by customers, selling skin care ingredients à la carte at a fraction of competitors’ prices.
Valeriya Safronova contributed reporting.