- An investigation sheds new light on Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to ex-Victoria’s Secret head Les Wexner.
- Epstein managed Wexner’s money and the two men were considered to be close personal friends.
- According to Vanity Fair, Wexner was warned about Epstein in the past.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Les Wexner was warned not to trust Jeffrey Epstein on at least two separate occasions but ignored the advice, according to a new investigation by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman.
Wexner, the Ohio-based billionaire businessman behind L Brands and Victoria’s Secret, has become a key part of the Epstein story in the past few years. Epstein had managed Wexner’s finances, reportedly beginning in the 1980s, and the two men were considered to be “close personal friends” for several years.
When Epstein was arrested in July 2019, facing sex-trafficking charges, representatives for Wexner said the retail executive had severed ties with Epstein more than 12 years ago.
Wexner later said in a statement that “being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past.”
But Vanity Fair’s report reveals that Wexner was warned about Epstein previously. Insider contacted an L Brands spokesperson for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Jerry Merritt, who worked for Wexner for 25 years as security chief for The Limited (which later became L Brands), told Vanity Fair: “I told Les, ‘I wouldn’t trust Epstein to cross the street – why are you trusting him with your money?’ ”
Wexner gave Epstein power of attorney over all his legal and financial matters, which meant the financier could hire people, sign checks, buy and sell properties, and borrow money on Wexner’s behalf. He also became Epstein’s early ticket to the billionaire lifestyle. Epstein flew around in Wexner’s private jet and attended his exclusive parties, according to The New York Times.
Robert Meister, former vice chairman of Aon insurance brokerage, who introduced Wexner to Epstein, told Vanity Fair that shortly after making the introduction he heard concerning stories about Epstein.
“Think of whatever the worst thing anyone could do is, and Epstein did them all,” he told Vanity Fair.
Meister said he later told Wexner not to get involved with Epstein but it was too late. “He thought Epstein was brilliant,” he said.
L Brands hired outside legal counsel in 2019 to investigate the company’s own ties to Epstein following reports that Epstein had used his connection to Wexner as a way to coerce women and girls into performing sexual acts by promising them modeling jobs.
According to the Vanity Fair report, Wexner was warned about Epstein presenting himself as a Victoria’s Secret scout in New York in the early 1990s.
Longtime Victoria’s Secret catalog CEO Cynthia Fedus-Fields was reportedly alerted to this by an executive at the company in 1993. A source familiar with the matter told Vanity Fair that Wexner was told about this and said: “he would stop it.”
A spokesperson for L Brands did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the progress of the investigation into Epstein’s connection to the company.
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