- Les Wexner founded L Brands, the former parent company of Victoria’s Secret, in 1963.
- The billionaire stepped down as chairman and CEO of L Brands in 2020, after facing scrutiny for his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
- Here’s the story of Wexner’s rise from a small business owner to a billionaire CEO — and his complicated relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
- Though Wexner expressed regret for having worked with Epstein, the two reportedly had a close relationship in the early 2000s. The former financier once tried to gift the CEO with a $339,000 portrait, which sparked a 2002 lawsuit that described the two as “close personal friends.”
- Former L Brands executives told The Wall Street Journal that Epstein also tried to meddle in the selection of Victoria’s Secret models.
- In a letter to the Wexner Foundation on Wednesday, Wexner said that Epstein had misappropriated vast amounts of money from him and his family when Epstein was his financial advisor.
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In 2019, Wexner came under scrutiny for his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, his former financial advisor. The two were described as “close personal friends” in a 2002 lawsuit.
Wexner’s relationship with Epstein was deep-rooted and problematic, a Wall Street Journal report said. Throughout the two-decades-long relationship, Wexner reportedly paid Epstein millions of dollars in fees and involved the financier in his family matters.
Epstein also reportedly meddled in the model selection process for Victoria’s Secret, The New York Times reported. Though Wexner has said he regrets any association with Epstein, the two have an entangled past. The question of Wexner’s relationship with Epstein was heightened in the wake of Epstein’s sex-trafficking charges.
Epstein died by suicide in his cell on August 10, 2019 while awaiting his trial. Wexner has since severed his ties with L Brands, stepping down as chairman and CEO in 2020 and selling his majority stake in the company.
Wexner wasn’t always a billionaire, however. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, to Russian immigrants, attended The Ohio State University, and served in the Air National Guard. He then went to work in his parents’ business, a small store called Leslie’s, starting him on the path to retail.
This is the story of how Wexner went from his first serious go at retail with The Limited to his leap to billionaire CEO of L Brands — and ultimately to his entanglement with Epstein: