01/21/2019 17:07 EST | Updated 01/21/2019 17:07 EST

Deciem Founder Brandon Truaxe Dead At 40

He was ousted from the company he founded last fall.

Instagram/Brandon Truaxe
Brandon Truaxe is shown in this undated handout photo posted to Instagram.

Brandon Truaxe, the controversial founder of popular skincare brands Deciem and The Ordinary, has died. He was 40 years old.

The news was first confirmed to Vox by acting Deciem CEO Nicola Kilner, who also wrote an email to company staff.

"Brandon has passed away over the weekend," the email reads. "Heartbroken doesn't come close to how I, and how I know many of you will be feeling."

"I love you all incredibly much, as did he."

Toronto-based Deciem was founded in 2013 and includes several lines under its umbrella. The most well-known is The Ordinary, which includes famously affordable, no-frills products often praised by beauty insiders.

Truaxe was perhaps best known for his unvarnished social media presence. He frequently posted strange messages and videos to the company's official pages until Estee Lauder Companies Inc., a Deciem investor, took legal action against him late last year.

"Truaxe has exhibited extremely erratic, disturbing and offensive behaviour in his role as president and chief executive officer over the course of this year," the company wrote in an Ontario court application. Kilner took over as acting CEO when a judge forced Truaxe out of the company.

One of Truaxe's most recent Instagram videos followed a format that would be familiar to his followers: talking directly to the camera, Truaxe speaks in a series of non-sequiturs, including references to "Mr. President" and "suspicious" occurrences on the ground below. He says he is speaking from a condo tower in Toronto's Distillery District, which is steps away from a Deciem store.

Prior to Deciem, Truaxe studied computer programming and founded a handful of companies. But Deciem was by far his biggest success, reportedly earning $300 million last year.

In her note to Deciem staff, Kilner asked that "all offices, warehouses, factories and stores" be closed for the day.

"Take the time to cry with sadness, smile at the good times we had, reflect on what his genius built and hug your loved ones that little harder," she went on to say.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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