Paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Victoria’s Secret boss Leslie Wexner may have had an ‘unholy alliance’, says an expert who claims the scandal contributed to this year’s lingerie show.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was scheduled for last Friday, but was ditched after in recent years being accused of objectifying women and lacking diversity.
But it has been suggested that another factor might have killed the show, namely that Jeffrey Epstein bought underwear from the brand.
End of an era: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, pictured in 2018, was cancelled for the first time in 23 years
The author of a book about Epstein (left, after his arrest) spoke of an ‘unholy alliance’ between the billionaire paedophile and Victoria’s Secret CEO Leslie Wexner (right)
The show was called off abruptly in the same week that Prince Andrew faced huge scrutiny over his friendship with the sex offender.
The New York Times reports that Epstein had an ‘unusually strong hold’ over Wexner, pretended to work as a talent scout and tried to abuse models. Wexner should have known about this, the article claims, but no action was taken.
Epstein and Wexner were friends for decades after the fashion CEO hired the financier as his ‘personal money manager’ back in the early 90s.
Wexner, 82, handed control of his finances and private life to Epstein, the paper claims.
As their lives became entwined, billionaire paedophile Epstein obtained a private place, vast estate in Ohio and a Manhatten townhouse, all of which Wexner or his firms used to own.
The townhouse in New York is the one at which trafficked teenager Virginia Giuffre was allegedly ordered to entertain the Duke of York.
Virginia Roberts (pictured with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) says the prince had sex with her three times
Epstein’s ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of scouring Central Park for Victoria’s Secret models.
And a witness claimed that when Epstein was asked about a stream of young girls in school uniform coming and going from the mansion, he claimed they were auditioning for Victoria’s Secret.
Maria Farmer, an alleged victim of Epstein, said in court papers that Epstein and Maxwell assaulted her on the 336-acre Ohio estate.
John Connolly, who authored the bestselling Filthy Rich about Epstein, told The Sun Online that L Brands, the Victoria’s Secret parent company, couldn’t handle the press that has surrounded Epstein since his death in prison.
‘If these allegations are true, there was an unholy alliance between Epstein and Wexner,’ he said. ‘L Brands has faced financial problems for a few years, but the bad press about Wexner’s connections to Epstein had to contribute to the cancellation of the show.’
Young artist Maria Farmer says she met Epstein at a 1995 art show, the same year as the first Victoria’s Secret show.
Wexner had known Epstein since the 80s and the financier bought one of Farmer’s paintings and offered her a job manning the door at the Manhatten townhouse.
She asked him why so many schoolgirls were coming in and out and Epstein told her they were auditioning for Victoria’s Secret.
This was at a time when the brand made billions with its cheerleader aesthetic. Farmer claims that she would get into the car with Maxwell ostensibly to pick up models for the company.
Next summer, when Farmer was 26, she became ‘artist in residence’ at Wexner’s estate.
She said in court papers that Epstein and Maxwell assaulted her while she stayed in a guest house.
Farmer says that one of Wexner’s staff told her she would never leave when she tried to escape.
Prince Andrew (pictured at the ExCeL in East London in October) stayed at the mansion Epstein took over from Wexner
And she said that Maxwell threatened her when she told police about the alleged attack.
Wexner has said he has no knowledge of Farmer and he and his wife claim never to have spoken to her or met her.
They say that the house she stayed at was handed to Epstein four years before she stayed there.
Months before Farmer was there, Epstein allegedly lured Alicia Arden, a Californian model, to a hotel room saying it was an ‘audition’ for Victoria’s Secret.
Saying ‘his weapons were his hands’, she alleges that he grabbed her when she was 27 and said he wanted to manhandle her before she cried and ran away. Arden reported him to the police.
Two senior executives at Victoria’s Secret say that Wexner was aware of the incidents but it is unknown whether he did anything in response.
Epstein had ‘full power and authority’ to hire staff for Wexner as well as borrow money and buy and sell properties in his behalf.
Epstein took sole possession of the Manhattan townhouse in 1998 and Virginia claims that she was employed there as his sex slave.
She says that in April 2001 she was ordered to entertain Prince Andrew when she was just 17. Prince Andrew denies this.
Saying she took the duke ‘upstairs to the dungeon’, she claims he undressed and lay face down on a table.
Virginia says she gave him an erotic massage that Epstein had taught her, but Andrew claims he doesn’t recall meeting her.
Victoria’s Secret model Lana Sakocela visited the mansion while Andrew stayed there in 2010.
Andrew was also seen with Victoria’s Secret model Angel Heidi Klum at a ‘Hookers and Pimps’ Halloween party in 2001.
Maxwell was seen donning a blonde wig as she draped her arm around the royal while he stared at the model’s catsuit.
It wasn’t until 2006 that the authorities brought criminal charges against Epstein. By then, Victoria’s Secret had hundreds of stores across the planet. Wexner did not sever his financial ties with Epstein until 18 months later.
Wexner claims he was not aware of Epstein’s crimes and said he handed him power of attorney because respected clients and friends recommended him.
He also said Epstein had ripped him off, misappropriating cash from him and his family.
‘I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein,’ he wrote in a letter.’
An editorial in New York Magazine demanded to know why Wexner didn’t call the police when he found out that Epstein had stolen from him.
A spokeswoman for L Brands said that Epstein stopped working for Wexner 12 years ago.
She added that the parent company does not believe he ever worked directly for L Brands or served as an authorised representative.
The spokeswoman said that L Brands has hired lawyers to undertake a thorough review.
Share price has fallen by 30 per cent this year against a backdrop of changing attitudes and Epstein’s ties to Wexner.