Wexner, 83, has faced mounting scrutiny over his decades-long ties to Epstein but has always insisted he knew nothing about his sex trafficking crimes.
However the complaint filed Tuesday alleges for the first time that the retail tycoon and his wife Abigail, 59, not only knew about Epstein’s conduct but allowed him to ‘use their home for liaisons with victims.’
It further claims that Wexner was so close to Epstein that he ‘knew or should have known’ that the dead pedophile was posing as a modelling recruiter for Victoria’s Secret to prey on aspiring young girls.
The bombshell allegations are part of a shareholder lawsuit brought against senior leadership at L Brands, the global fashion retailer founded and led by Wexner until he stepped down last May.
He and other board members did nothing to tackle ‘an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment, as well as ties to Jeffrey Epstein and other egregious mismanagement,’ according to papers lodged in Delaware Chancery Court.
Wexner hired Epstein as his personal money manager in the 1990s but he claimed last year that he had cut ties with the pervert in 2007 after discovering he had conned him out of at least $46 million.
‘This was frankly a tremendous shock even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now,’ Wexner told investors, a month after Epstein hanged himself in August 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges.
‘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.’
However the new lawsuit challenges the idea that Wexner was in the dark about Epstein’s sex abuse, describing how the pair became inseparable as friends and business associates.
‘Over a period of many years, the convicted and now-deceased sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, had a close social and financial relationship with Mr. Wexner and his wife, defendant Abigail S. Wexner,’ the complaint says.
Around 1990 Epstein was appointed head of Wexner Investment Co – Wexner’s ‘de facto family office’, according to the suit. A year later he was granted power-of-attorney over Wexner’s assets.
‘The decision effectively demoted Harold Levin, who had then been in charge of the Wexners’ personal finances for seven years, and came as a surprise to several people who worked with Mr. Wexner at the time,’ it states.
‘Some wondered what Mr. Wexner saw in Epstein, whom they described as charismatic but also arrogant and without much formal education in money management.’
The suit recalls how Epstein was appointed director of the Wexner Foundation and Wexner Heritage Foundation and in was involved in his effort to build his own town – dubbed Wexley – in New Albany, outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Wexner – worth an estimated $7.7billion at his height – bought 10,000 acres of land and built neo-Georgian mansions, a golf course, country club and his own luxury compound which includes a $47m, 30-room family residence.
‘Upon information and belief, the Wexners let Epstein use their home for liaisons with victims,’ the suit alleges.
‘One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, has claimed that he directed her to have sex with Mr. Wexner, among others.
‘Another victim, Maria Farmer, has accused Abigail Wexner of acquiescence while Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell sexually assaulted her in the New Albany compound and, effectively imprisoned her there and kept her under security guard.’
The suit goes on to list numerous ventures and real estate deals Epstein was involved in and how he oversaw various trusts and entities involved in selling off $1.5 billion of L Brands stock from 1994 to 2002.
During that period it’s been widely alleged that Epstein boasted about his ties to the company, in particularly the Victoria’s Secret brand, to groom victims.
‘The Wexners entered into numerous other business and charitable relationships with Epstein, who was given access to the Company’s facilities, assets and personnel,’ the suit goes on.
‘Mr. Wexner knew or should have known that Epstein was using his relationship with the Wexners and to the Company to recruit aspiring models by posing as a recruiter and lying to them about his ability to get them Victoria’s Secret assignments.
‘During the period of their close friendship with him, the Wexners intentionally transferred tens of millions of dollars to Epstein’s control, some of which was directed to legitimate charitable entities.
‘The Wexners have now belatedly claimed Epstein also embezzled many millions of dollars from them (and their family foundation), some of which may have been L Brands’ funds. Epstein also was able to purchase one of the Company’s corporate jets at a favorable price.’
The suit, filed by Nancy Lambrecht on behalf of L Brands shareholders, says an internal investigation was launched in July 2019 into links between Epstein, the Wexners and other alleged misconduct.
This include allegations that Wexner and other senior figures failed to confront ‘widely-known misconduct’ and harassment allegations aimed at the firm’s former marketing chief, Edward Razek, who is a co-defendant in the case.
These and other leadership failures wasted corporate assets and caused ‘significant damage’ to L Brands for which Wexner and others should be held liable, it argues.
Wexner – Ohio’s richest man – amassed a $4.5billion fortune after building some of the world’s most recognized clothing brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Express and Lane Bryant.
He met Epstein in the mid-1980s ‘through friends who vouched for and recommended him’ according to a letter he wrote to The Wexner Foundation in 2019 shortly before the multi-millionaire sex trafficker died in jail.
By the early 1990s, Epstein ultimately took over managing Wexner’s own finances, according to the letter. He even gave the pervert power of attorney over his personal fortune in a three-page legal document.
This authorized Epstein to borrow money on his behalf, sign tax returns and even make acquisitions.
Epstein also became a key fixture at Wexner’s sprawling 336-acre estate in New Albany, where Wexner’s 45,000 sq ft mansion is located.
He was deeded his own impressive 10,600 sq ft home with a pool and bathhouse just a short walk from Wexner’s house.
One of Epstein’s most high-profile victims, artist Maria Farmer, has claimed in an affidavit that she was molested by the financier and Ghislaine Maxwell at that home.
It was guarded by Wexner’s security team and was ‘effectively the guest house’ for the main estate, according to one guard in a 2019 report in the Washington Post.