Nascent presidential candidate Kanye “Ye” West is under investigation by sportswear giant Adidas for inappropriate behavior that created a “toxic and chaotic environment” while the rapper and entrepreneur worked with the German company.
The company said the probe was triggered by an anonymous letter that alleges years of misconduct in the workplace by Ye that Adidas management ignored. The investigation was first reported by the Financial Times and was announced on the same day Ye launched an unlikely bid for the White House.
The probe followed an investigative report by Rolling Stone that alleged Ye used “a variety of intimidation tactics with the staff of his fashion empire that were provocative, frequently sexualized, and often directed toward women.”
More than two dozen former Yeezy and Adidas staffers told the magazine about an “abusive office culture.”
“Behind the scenes, this celebrity boss did more than test the boundaries of professionalism: Former Yeezy and Adidas staffers and creative collaborators claim that he played pornography to Yeezy staff in meetings; discussed porn and showed an intimate photograph of Kim Kardashian in job interviews; and showed an explicit video and photos of Kardashian as well as his own sex tapes to Yeezy team members,” the report said.
It also referenced a “a revelatory open letter by prominent former members of the Yeezy team” that insisted that Adidas executives were aware of Ye’s “problematic behavior,” but “turned their moral compass off” rather than step in.
The letter was titled “The Truth About Yeezy: A Call to Action for Adidas Leadership,” and referenced “years of verbal abuse, vulgar tirades, and bullying attacks” from Ye.
“There was no accountability,” one staffer said. “Difficult moments happened, with executives in the room — VP level or higher — and nothing would be done. You’d still show up to work the next day.”
Last month, Ye posted a video on YouTube that showed him playing a porn video on his phone during a meeting with Adidas executives and commenting that someone in the video sounded like one of the execs, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Adidas is one of multiple brands that cut ties with Ye last month after a torrent of antisemitic comments. Yeezy-branded products, among its most lucrative product lines, represented about 8% of the company’s revenue, the Journal reported.
“It is currently not clear whether the accusations made in an anonymous letter are true,” an Adidas spokesperson told Reuters. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have taken the decision to launch an independent investigation of the matter immediately to address the allegations.”