Leslie Herbert Wexner, born on September 8, 1937, is a Jewish-American philanthropist and businessman, as well as the founder of The Wexner Foundation.
Wexner was born in Dayton, Ohio, to Harry Louis and Bella, both of Russian-Jewish descent. He completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University but dropped out of law school to assist his family in their small shop.
Later, he received a $5,000 loan from his aunt and founded a competing store named "The Limited" in 1963, initially opening one store at the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington, Ohio. He later established L Brands. Subsequently, his parents closed their store and joined his business.
During the 1970s, Wexner opened numerous stores.
In 1982, he acquired the brand Victoria's Secret for one million dollars, which was founded by American businessman Roy Raymond on June 12, 1977. Today, Victoria's Secret is the flagship brand of L Brands, with approximately 3,000 stores worldwide and an estimated value of nearly $11 billion.
Forbes magazine ranks Wexner at number 80 on the list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion. In 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that Wexner was interested in selling the Victoria's Secret brand.
In 1984, Wexner and his wife, Abigail, founded The Wexner Foundation, a Jewish-American philanthropic organization. The foundation operates programs for professional development and leadership training. Its goal is to strengthen leadership and managerial excellence in the public sector in Israel and Jewish communities worldwide.
Wexner received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University.
Wexner's Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein
Wexner was the primary client of Jewish-American financier and businessman Jeffrey Epstein, who began managing his finances in 1987. In 1991, Wexner granted Epstein unlimited power of attorney to act on his behalf in all matters, including within The Wexner Foundation, which Epstein used for his personal business ventures.
Among other activities, Epstein acquired various assets from companies controlled by Wexner and sold them back to him at double the price. In a 2003 Vanity Fair profile, it was noted that the two had an extremely close relationship, which allowed Epstein to acquire a stake in Manhattan from Wexner. Early business partners of Wexner claimed to The New York Times that Epstein severed their ties with Wexner.
Epstein also removed Wexner's mother from the board of trustees of The Wexner Foundation and transferred $21 million from The Wexner Foundation to his private foundation.
Starting in the summer of 1996, Epstein began sexually assaulting employees of Wexner and models aspiring to work for Victoria's Secret. According to The New York Times, Wexner promised to address a subsequent sexual assault that occurred in 1997, in which Epstein posed as a Victoria's Secret executive. In reality, their business relationship only publicly ended with Epstein's criminal convictions in 2008.
Wexner is married to Abigail S. Koppel, an attorney, and they have four children.
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