Clothing mogul Leslie Wexner’s company has in recent years faced both financial struggles and criticism for objectifying women. On top of this, the 82-year-old mogul has landed in hot water over an “unholy alliance” with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly lured young women by promising a modelling career with the famous brand.
The scandal over the connections between disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and the owner of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brands, Leslie Wexner, “had to contribute to the cancellation of the show”, John Connolly, the author of a bestseller about the high-profile paedophile, told The Sun.
“If these allegations are true, there was an unholy alliance between Epstein and Wexner. L Brands has faced financial problems for a few years, but the bad press about Wexner’s connections to Epstein had to contribute to the cancellation of the show”, the writer, whose book is titled Filthy Rich, suggested.
No More Angels?
The clothing giant, best known for its lingerie, announced last week that it would not hold its signature show featuring star models for the first time in 25 years.
“We’re figuring out how to advance the positioning of the brand and best communicate that to customers”, L Brands’ Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer explained, adding that the show was “an important aspect of the brand and a remarkable marketing achievement”.
The statement comes after L Brands recently reported a net loss of $252mln in third-quarter results. At the same time, the lingerie brand is facing several controversies, including the possible cancellation of the Angels – its most elite group of contracted models, which has included Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, and Miranda Kerr.
How Far Do Their ‘Connections’ Go?
This came against the backdrop of a controversy surrounding Wexner’s work with Jeffrey Epstein. Shortly after the convicted paedophile was arrested for the second time this summer, the mogul hurried to make a statement to members of the Wexner Foundation, alleging that the financier had misappropriated his funds. This was discovered after the L Brands CEO decided to cut ties with Epstein in 2007. However, the mogul managed to recover $46 million, as Epstein reportedly transferred equivalent investments to a Wexner charitable fund in January 2008.
Before that, reports revealed that the financier could have used his close ties to Wexner, the owner of a $4.6 billion fortune, to try to get access to younger women. Epstein posed as a Victoria’s Secret talent scout to try and “manhandle” a California model by luring her to a Santa Monica hotel room, according to a police report reviewed by The New York Times.
The model, Alicia Arden, told the NYT about the 1997 encounter, one of the earliest documented allegations against Epstein. Arden visited Epstein in his Santa Monica hotel room, expecting to discuss appearing in a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, when the attack allegedly happened. The incident came less than a year after a similar reported sexual misconduct claim, filed by Maria Farmer, who was working on an art project for Epstein in Leslie H. Wexner’s Ohio mansion.
According to sources, Wexner was informed of the situation and promised to take care of it, but didn’t cut ties with Epstein until years later, when Florida authorities charged Epstein with multiple counts of molestation and unlawful sexual activity with a minor in early 2006.
Death of the Paedophile
Epstein was arrested for the second time in early July over multiple allegations of child sex trafficking and was accused of sexually assaulting over 30 girls, some as young as 14 years old. Prosecutors alleged the financier lured underage girls to sex parties in his New York mansion and his estate in Florida. He faced up to 45 years in prison, but killed himself in jail. Although it was ruled to be a suicide, numerous suspicious circumstances as well as his alleged high-profile acquaintances have led to speculations that he was murdered.