Leslie Wexner – More information about the billionaire mentioned in Netflix's Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

Laura Jane Turner
Photo credit: Nicholas Hunt - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

There are many questions that remain unanswered, or even unaddressed, from the Jeffrey Epstein case – explored in Netflix's latest true-crime offering, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.

The four-part documentary, while compassionate to the survivors whose story it told and relentless in its pursuit of Epstein, felt incomplete. But this has far more to do with the real-life story, and the pace at which it has unfolded, than a fault that can be levelled at the series itself.

Among the many threads still not adequately pulled was the one attached to Ghislaine Maxwell, whose culpability remains in question (as pointed out throughout the episodes, she has categorically denied all allegations against her despite the fact that she's been accused of both procuring girls for Epstein and of sexual assault).

Photo credit: Patrick McMullan - Getty Images

Related: Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich – the disturbing detail that was not included in the documentary

Epstein was a wealthy and powerful man – a dangerous combination in the hands of the depraved. It was astounding to see how high and far-reaching Epstein's friendships and connections went.

He had once counted Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew among his social circle, but the question of how he amassed his wealth and influence seems to have always been shrouded in mystery.

Photo credit: Davidoff Studios Photography - Getty Images

That's where, at least as far as the documentary's narrative goes, Leslie Wexner's name comes into the equation. One of America's most successful and longest-serving CEOs, he's reported to have a net worth of around $4.3 billion (via Forbes).

The founder of L Brands, Inc (formerly known as Limited Brands), Wexner's conglomerate included such powerhouses as Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch (from the late '80s until the mid-'90s) and Bath & Body Works.

According to the company's website Wexner was inspired by his hardworking parents, who had owned a small local store when he was a child. After starting L Brands in 1963, the businessman then "expanded his business portfolio through both invention and acquisition" and evolved it from a clothing based domestic retailer to a $13.2 billion international company.

But what's any of this got to do with Jeffrey Epstein?

Photo credit: Nicholas Hunt - Getty Images

A 2002 New York profile on Epstein and his finances (they referred to him as an "International Moneyman of Mystery") noted Wexner as one of his clients. The rest of his deals and business associates appeared to be held secret, which only added to the elusiveness.

"My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won't get a straight answer from him," one investor, said to be well-known, told the publication at the time. "He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I've also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It's like looking at the Wizard of Oz – there may be less there than meets the eye."

Epstein's relationship with Wexner was the source of some confusion and speculation too. "It's a weird relationship," another Wall Street person, who knew Epstein, also said back then. "It's just not typical for someone of such enormous wealth to all of a sudden give his money to some guy most people have never heard of."

The date of their business partnership doesn't seem to have been nailed down either. The New York article has it down as being 1987 when Wexner hired Epstein to be his financial advisor, whereas a Vanity Fair feature (dated a year later) has it as 1986 or 1989, depending on who you asked.

Photo credit: Patrick McMullan - Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich said that the pair had met "somewhere around" 1986, and that Wexner eventually granted a power of attorney to Jeffrey Epstein over his finances – something said to be very out of character for Wexner. The documentary presented the situation as though Wexner "adored" Epstein, and was being manipulated by him.

The series also detailed how Epstein would use this link to Victoria's Secret, sometimes even posing as a talent scout, to get access to more young women.

The New York feature notes that Epstein bought his now-famous mansion residence in Manhattan from Wexner in 1995, after the latter had spent millions on it to increase its value from $13 million to somewhere around $20 million. Apparently, Wexner never actually moved into the property.

There were rumours that Epstein parted with just one lonely dollar to take it off of Wexner's hands, but the report also claims that many stated he had in fact paid the full market price. According to the 2003 Vanity Fair piece, public documents at that time suggested that the house was was still owned by the trust that had bought it, but Epstein said that he owned the house. A 2019 article in the New York Times reported that it wasn't transferred to Epstein until 2011, according to public records.

Photo credit: Rick Friedman - Getty Images

Epstein did not like the suggestion that Wexner had 'made him', insisting that he'd had rich clients before meeting him. Having said that, Wexner is widely described as having been his business mentor.

In Vanity Fair's aforementioned 2003 article 'The Talented Mr Epstein', by Vicky Ward – and yes, this appears to be the same article that was spotlighted in the documentary series – Epstein conceded that they had a 'special relationship', but revealed that he instead saw him as an equal partner: "People have said it's like we have one brain between two of us: each has a side."

Wexner is quoted as saying, "I think we both possess the skill of seeing patterns... But Jeffrey sees patterns in politics and financial markets, and I see patterns in lifestyle and fashion trends. My skills are not in investment strategy, and, as everyone who knows Jeffrey knows, his are not in fashion and design. We frequently discuss world trends as each of us sees them."

Photo credit: Davidoff Studios Photography - Getty Images

Business aside, it is not known how close Epstein and Wexner were in their personal lives.

Wexner was previously quoted by Vanity Fair as describing Epstein to be "a most loyal friend", but this would have been before the first criminal case against Epstein was heavily publicised.

A spokeswoman for Wexner told the Times in 2019, following Epstein's arrest for sex trafficking, that he had "severed ties" with Mr Epstein about a decade prior.

"I would not have continued to work with any individual capable of such egregious, sickening behaviour 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 (via CNN).

It is important to note that Leslie Wexner himself has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and following Epstein's 2019 arrest he told his employees that he had not known about any of Epstein's illegal activity (via CNN).

In the documentary, it was revealed that Wexner had accused Epstein of stealing around $46 million from him. In a filmed speech given in 2019, Wexner said that he had been "taken advantage of" by someone "sick", "cunning" and "depraved" and that he was "embarrassed" to have been around it.

Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich is available to stream now on Netflix.

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