- New York-based financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of sex trafficking minors. He pleaded not guilty on July 8.
- Epstein’s relationship with high-profile figures including L Brands CEO and founder Les Wexner has come under scrutiny over the past few days.
- Wexner was one of Epstein’s first known clients. According to a lawsuit filed in 2002 by the late artist Nelson Shanks, the two men were “close personal friends.”
- Epstein had a hand in helping Wexner create his own model town in the late ’90s in New Albany, Ohio, where houses sell for as much as $US4.5 million today.
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The relationship between Jeffrey Epstein and Les Wexner has come under close inspection this week after Epstein was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of sex trafficking minors.
While a spokesperson for Wexner told Business Insider that the CEO of L Brands, Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, cut ties with Epstein years ago, back in the late ’90s and early 2000s Wexner was one of Epstein’s only known clients. According to a lawsuit filed in 2002 by the late artist Nelson Shanks, the two men were “close personal friends.”
It turns out that Epstein also had a hand in helping Wexner build a model town in New Albany, Ohio, through his development firm The New Albany Co. Epstein invested a few million dollars of capital into the project and became a partner in the company, according to a 2002 article in New York magazine.
Wexner bought 10,000 acres of land in the area through The New Albany Co., and he set about designing his own mansion (where he still lives) and creating a perfectly manicured town with rows of neo-Georgian McMansions, a golf course, and a country club with the help of the country’s top architects and landscapers.
The town and the house together are worth more than $US45.6 million, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
“It’s a community where if you drive around, you know what you’re getting yourself into,” Jim Lenner, manager of neighbouring village Johnstown, told Bloomberg.
“Obviously, it appeals to a lot of people, but there are also people who aren’t interested in living there because they don’t want their house to look like their neighbour’s,” he said.
The New Albany Co. did not return Business Insider’s request for comment, but Epstein is no longer listed as a partner on the company’s website.
Back in 2002, New York magazine spoke to Bob Fitrakis, a Columbus-based investigative journalist who had written extensively about Wexner, about Epstein’s role in the project. Fitrakis said that before Epstein got involved, the financial preparations and groundwork for development were “a total mess.”
“Epstein cleaned everything up, as well as serving Wexner in other capacities – such as facilitating visits to Wexner’s home of the crew from ‘Cats’ and organising a Tony Randall song-and-dance show put on in Columbus,” he said.
The New Albany Co. still owns around 20% of the town, and according to a New Albany spokesperson, Wexner spends his Saturday mornings driving around to make sure everything is “remaining true to the original vision,” Bloomberg reported. Houses in the area are currently selling for as much as $US4.5 million.