Burt Shavitz, Legendary Cofounder Of Burt's Bees, Passed Away At 80

The cofounder and widely recognized face of cosmetics giant Burt's Bees passed away.

NBC News reports Burt Shavitz is dead at 80.

The company wrote the news on its Facebook page:

It is with broken hearts that we must convey the saddest news: Burt Shavitz, our co-founder and namesake, has left for greener fields and wilder woods... Posted by Burt's Bees on Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shavitz, who didn't see much of his company's multi-million dollar fortune, was working as a news photographer when he was captivated by a swarm of bees flying around a fence.

He believed the insects to be a message from the Lord, according to The Washington Post.

Shavitz said,

The year before, a guy that I'd been buying honey from, who was a beekeeper, had given me everything I needed to be a beekeeper except the bees -- a hive, a mask, gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, everything. So, there was this fencepost, and I said, 'My lord, this is an act of God! I can't turn this down.'

He soon inherited some money and moved to Maine, where he sold honey at a roadside stand, and in 1984, he met an artist named Roxanne Quimby.

She was hitchhiking home over the summer and Shavitz picked her up.

After a friendship was formed, Quimby thought of using excess wax from Shavitz's beehives to make candles.

They earned $200 at their first craft fair and made $20,000 by the end of the year.

Burt's Bees debuted its signature lip balm seven years later and Quimby relocated the business to North Carolina just a few years after.

Shavitz was ousted from the company in the late 1990s, however, after he had a romantic relationship with an employee.

Quimby bought Shavitz's stake in Burt's Bees for $130,000 in 1999 and sold 80 percent of the company to an investment firm for $170 million in 2003.

Had Shavitz held onto his stake, The New York Times reported, it would have been valued at around $59 million when the company was sold to Clorox for over $900 million in 2007.

In 2008, Quimby said she gave Shavitz $4 million after the sale.

She told the Associated Press,

Burt was an enigma; my mentor and my muse. I am deeply saddened.

The cause of his death is yet to be disclosed.

Citations: Burt Shavitz cantankerous hippie cofounder of Burts Bees dead at 80 (The Washington Post), Burt Shavitz Iconic CoFounder of Burts Bees Dies at 80 (NBC News)