Home Technology Les Wexner’s Career Has Gone From Shopkeeper to Billionaire

Les Wexner’s Career Has Gone From Shopkeeper to Billionaire

by Atlanta Business Journal
  • 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.

Les Wexner is the founder L Brands, the company that owned Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works before it was split into separate entities in 2021.

With an estimated

net worth

of $5.6 billion, he was one of America’s longest-serving CEOs, according to Forbes

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.

Read more: The CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company was one of Jeffrey Epstein’s only known clients, and the 2 were ‘close personal friends’

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:

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