Angels and Demons reveals Les Wexner, the mysterious billionaire behind Jeffrey Epstein

HHow did Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious child kidnapper and sex trafficker, amassed his vast wealth? Yes, the late wealth manager has rubbed shoulders with everyone from Bill Gates and Bill Clinton to Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, but as the new Hulu docuseries Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons (July 14) claims one of the certified creep’s biggest moneymakers was none other than billionaire Les Wexner, the so-called “Merlin of the Mall.”

A slender man with elfin features (pictured by Ben Gazzara), Wexner was hardly a paragon of refinement. Despite being the man behind retail giant L Brands — whose portfolio once included The Limited, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, Lane Bryant, Henri Bendel, Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret — Wexner kept a relatively low profile in his native Ohio, far away from the prying lenses of the paparazzi. That all seemed to change when Epstein came into his life in the mid-1980s. In his forties, Wexner dyed his hair and upgraded his wardrobe. His soirees have now been attended by Epstein’s list of famous acquaintances. In 1985, Wexner graced the cover of new York Magazine entitled “The Bachelor Billionaire”. And in 1989, according to an article in The Washington Posta diary entry by Wexner dated September 1, 1989, read: “I finally like myself.”

A few weeks before Epstein died in his prison cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, The New York Times published a revealing exposé detailing Wexner’s connections to Epstein. Among other things, the story revealed that Wexner was Epstein’s only publicly known billionaire client; that Epstein had acquired his Manhattan townhouse, private jet (later called the “Lolita Express”) and other properties from Wexner at a deep discount; that Wexner allegedly waited 18 months to sever ties with Epstein after he was arrested for child prostitution in 2006; and that an Oregon Attorney General’s investigation found that Victoria’s Secret had directly assisted Epstein’s legal defense in 2006 by voluntarily providing information against one of Epstein’s accusers who had worked for Victoria’s Secret. (A statement by Wexner in the film alleges that Wexner severed ties with Epstein in 2008 and was unaware of his abuses.)

“After the second arrest, it became increasingly clear that Wexner was one of his biggest clients, and so much of Epstein’s fortune came from his work for Wexner,” says Matt Tyrnauer, director of Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons. “Then other disturbing details surfaced – including the fact that he had power of attorney giving him access to vast amounts of Wexner’s fortune.”

Donald Trump and then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago Club, Palm Beach, Florida February 12, 2000.

Davidoff Studios/Getty

In fact, in a most unusual move, Wexner, now 84, gave Epstein a power of attorney in 1991 that the Times reported, “Mr. enabling Epstein to hire people, sign checks, buy and sell real estate, and borrow money” on Wexner’s behalf, and that Epstein was given “full power and authority to take any action necessary for him do and carry out”. Wexner also told vanity fair in 2003 that Epstein was “very bright with a combination of excellent judgment and unusually high standards. Besides, he is always a loyal friend.”

As Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons revealed Epstein was deeply involved in Wexner’s life, serving as trustee of his charitable foundation (going so far as to push his mother out) and even being tasked with finding a nanny for him after his marriage to Abigail Koppel. At one point, Epstein lived in a guest house next door to Wexner in New Albany, Ohio, a small town of Georgian-style homes that Wexner designed to his specifications (Epstein reportedly bought the home from Wexner for $3.5 million). And in this house, Maria Farmer, a young artist from New York, claims that she was assaulted by both Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, the latter recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for smuggling girls into Epstein through sex.

Victoria’s Secret: angels and demons alleges that Farmer was locked in a room in Epstein’s New Albany home and was so frightened that she piled furniture against the door to prevent Epstein and Maxwell from entering the room. The film says she tried at the time to report it to the local police – who had a relationship with the Wexner family, as they basically ran the town – and to the FBI, but to no avail.

Epstein lives next door to Wexner, and one of his darkest crimes appears to be taking place behind the very dignified Georgian facade of this vast guest house…

“Epstein lives next door to Wexner, and one of his darkest crimes seems to be taking place behind the very dignified Georgian facade of this huge guest house,” explains Tyrnauer. “That scene was very revealing. It’s almost like a David Lynch movie where everything strives to be too perfect and if you look closer you see the grass isn’t greener and in this case bad things happened to Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell has been introduced to it in this house Architecture Digest like that super-luxe mansion on the Ohio Planes.”

Epstein is also said to have exploited his connections to Wexner by posing as a Victoria’s Secret model recruiter. In the film, Cindy Fedus-Fields, former CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, says: “In the spring or summer of ’93, Les was informed [Wexner] that a man was walking around New York City posing as a recruiter for models from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. It was Jeffrey Epstein. And Les said he would stop doing it. I don’t think the behavior has stopped. I think it went further.” (Wexner’s attorney claimed Wexner had forbidden Epstein to do so.)

Alicia Arden, an actress who had appeared on Baywatch and in playboyShe claims the behavior hasn’t stopped. She says in an interview in the film that she met Epstein in 1997 at the Hotel Shutters in Santa Monica for what she believed to be a Victoria’s Secret audition, only to have him ask that she pose in a bra and panties before showing her butt touched and it tries to give her $100. She claims she “felt like a prostitute” and then filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

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When Epstein died in 2019, he left an estimated fortune of $600 million, of which only $125 million was distributed to his victims. And after the Times In an article about his ties to Epstein, Wexner came forward and broke his relative silence about his ties to Epstein in a letter to the Wexner Foundation, saying that the late sex criminal had received “huge sums of money” from him totaling around $46 million misappropriated US dollars.

Meanwhile, Sarah Ellison, a Washington Post Reporter interviewed in Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demonsestimates that Wexner paid Epstein around $400 million over the course of their business relationship.

“Wexner is known to be argumentative, and yet he won’t go after Epstein for stealing millions and millions of dollars?” Ellison asks in the film. “To allow this level of treason and dishonesty to go unpunished is completely inexplicable.”

Tyrnauer is still puzzled as to how Epstein, a former high school math teacher who was fired from Bear Stearns for financial violations and then linked to the Towers Financial Corporation pyramid scheme, was able to learn the truth about Wexner to the point of to whom he had authority and control over large sums of his estate.

“I think there are three big con artists of the last hundred years: Roy Cohn, the subject of an earlier film of mine; his mentee, Donald Trump; and Epstein,” Tyrnauer offers. “The con was so epic and went right under everyone’s noses.”

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