Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands, say it’s investigating the business relationship between its CEO, Les Wexner, and Jeffrey Epstein.
A new report in the New York Times shows the pair had a closer relationship than Epstein acting as Wexner’s personal money manager.
Epstein, a longtime associate of Wexner’s, is accused of running a sex-trafficking enterprise, in which he paid girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors say he used employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences, and then paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse. He has pleaded not guilty.
Wexner has not been implicated in Epstein’s alleged crimes in any way. When Epstein was arrested earlier this month, Wexner told L Brand employees that he denied knowledge of the illegal activity of which Epstein stands accused. Wexner didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment about the Times’ story.
Epstein’s lawyer’s didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment about the Times’ story.
The Times said Epstein had “an unusually strong hold” on Wexner, including giving Epstein “sweeping powers over his finances, philanthropy and private life.” The once-strong relationship between the two men provoked questions from Wexner’s friends and has been reignited following the arrest of Epstein.
The Times obtained this information through interviews with people who know Epstein, as well as court documents and financial records.
Wexner previously told L Brands employees that Epstein was his money manager and served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation.
“While Mr. Epstein served as Mr. Wexner’s personal money manager for a period that ended nearly 12 years ago, we do not believe he was ever employed by nor served as an authorized representative of the company,” an L Brands spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
L Brands’ spokesperson said the board of directors has “engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough review” at their direction.
Epstein and Wexner formed their friendship in the mid-to-late-1980s when they were introduced through a mutual acquaintance, according to the Times.
In addition to managing Wexner’s money, Epstein managed the design of his yacht and was even given power of attorney allowing him to “hire people, sign checks, buy and sell properties and borrow money” on Wexner’s behalf, according to the Times. That gave Epstein “unmatched authority” over Wexner’s life and shifted control of valuable assets from Wexner and his company to Epstein.
The Times said that it was not clear if there was any official agreement regarding Epstein’s role or compensation. It added that L Brands and Wexner declined to answer the Times’ questions about investments that Epstein made for Wexner or how they performed.
Epstein was entangled in Wexner’s portfolio of real estate and, the Times said, “obtained a Boeing 727 previously owned by The Limited.” There are no public records of the transaction, but a source tells the Times it cost $10 million.
Wexner’s L Brands owns Victoria’s Secret and Epstein tried to get involved in the recruitment of models for its popular catalog, the Times reported. That troubled executives at the company, which used talent agencies to scout models. Wexner was alerted by executives and reportedly said he would handle the issue, but Epstein’s involvement in trying to attract models continued.
Wexner ended his relationship with Epstein in 2007, after the time Epstein faced accusations of sexual misconduct with minors. Epstein cut a deal with Miami prosecutors that allowed him to avoid federal charges and pleaded guilty to lesser state prostitution charges.
“I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behavior as has been reported about him. As you can imagine, this past week I have searched my soul … reflected … and regretted that my path ever crossed his,” he said.
On Thursday, Esptein was found in his Manhattan jail cell with marks on his neck this week, a law enforcement source and a source familiar with the incident told CNN. He is on suicide watch.