NEW YORK - The founder of an investment fund that lost $1.4 billion with Bernard Madoff was discovered dead yesterday after committing suicide at his Manhattan office, marking a grim turn in a scandal that has left investors around the world in financial ruin.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet was found sitting at his desk at about 8 a.m. with both wrists slashed, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. A box cutter was found on the floor along with a bottle of sleeping pills on his desk. No suicide note was found.

De la Villehuchet was one of several fund managers to be hit hard in Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Investment funds that lost big to Madoff are also facing backlash and investor lawsuits for not protecting their clients from the alleged fraud.

It is not immediately known what kind of scrutiny de la Villehuchet was facing over his Madoff losses through his Access International Advisors, situated on Madison Avenue a couple of blocks from Rockefeller Center.

But on Monday night, he told cleaning crews in his building that he wanted them out of his office by 7 p.m.

Workers returned yesterday morning and found the door locked. He was later discovered dead at his desk, with a garbage can placed near his body to apparently catch the blood, Browne said.

De la Villehuchet was a prominent investor who came from a long line of aristocratic Frenchmen, with the Magon part of his name referring to one of France's most powerful families.

His fund enlisted intermediaries with links to the cream of Europe's high society to garner clients. Among them was Philippe Junot, a French businessman and friend who is the former husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. *