As friends, acquaintances and former business associates — including President Trump, who was once all three, and former President Clinton — rush to distance themselves from Jeffrey Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide on Aug. 10, more and more links between the fashion and media worlds and the convicted sex offender and disgraced billionaire keep coming to light, no doubt causing numerous public figures to brace themselves for potentially embarrassing disclosures along the lines of “Epstein was once seen with [Fill in the Blank].”
According to court documents released by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, Epstein, who was arrested on July 6, was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida. If convicted, he would have faced a maximum prison sentence of 45 years.
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While information on Epstein’s business ventures and earnings are scant so far, the money manager and former Wall Street trader had many dealings within the fashion and media spaces, notably with Victoria’s Secret owner Leslie H. Wexner. Epstein managed Wexner’s finances for more than two decades, along with those of Jean-Luc Brunel, who has been accused of supplying underage girls through his modeling agency, MC2, to Epstein in a 2015 lawsuit against Epstein by a victim.
From his close ties with Wexner to a sexual assault lawsuit filed in 2016 that also named Trump, here’s a rundown of Epstein’s links to the fashion and media worlds through the years.
Leslie H. Wexner, L Brands Inc. chairman and chief executive officer
After working as a financial trader, Epstein launched his own firm, J. Epstein & Co., where Wexner was his sole client through 2003. The pair had a close friendship, with Epstein later taking ownership of Wexner’s Manhattan mansion, the same 21,000-square-foot mansion on East 71st Street that court documents demanded Epstein forfeit because many of the alleged acts of child sex trafficking and assault took place there.
According to The Daily Beast, in April an accuser named Maria Farmer came forward alleging that she was assaulted by Epstein in Wexner’s home in Ohio in the Nineties and that Wexner’s security team prohibited her from leaving the residence.
It’s been reported that Wexner cut ties with Epstein over a decade ago, as allegations and lawsuits regarding Epstein’s pedophilia increased.
On Aug. 7, Wexner finally revealed the cause of his fallout with Epstein: embezzlement. In a letter to members of his Wexner Foundation, Wexner explained that Epstein had misappropriated over $46 million from him and his family and had discovered this after severing ties with Epstein in 2007.
“I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein,” Wexner wrote. “I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path.”
Wexner then explained that he was able to recover a portion of the funds through a $46 million contribution from Epstein to Wexner’s YLK Charitable Fund.
On July 16, Wexner made his first comments on his close ties with Epstein, stating in an internal memo to L Brands employees that he was “NEVER aware” of Epstein’s illegal activity and that he “would never have guessed that a person I employed more than a decade ago could have caused such pain to so many people. My heart goes out to each and every person who has been hurt.”
Jean-Luc Brunel, cofounder MC2 Model Management
Many of Epstein’s associates have been involved in their own lawsuits for involvement in his child sex trafficking operation, including Jean-Luc Brunel, cofounder of MC2 Model Management, and Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite, close friend of Prince Andrew’s and the alleged “madame” in Epstein’s child trafficking operation.
In 2015, Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre claimed in court documents as part of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act that Brunel helped supply Epstein with underage girls from around the world by recruiting them as models through the agency. The lawsuit is ongoing.
The same year, Brunel filed his own lawsuit against Epstein, suing him for damages linked to Epstein’s bad publicity and reputation as he increasingly faced sexual assault allegations. Brunel stated that the allegations against Epstein resulted in “a tremendous loss of business” for his modeling agency, according to court documents. In April, the Third District Court of Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County ruled in favor of Epstein, stating that Brunel failed to comply with the service of process requirements in the lawsuit.
Giuffre had also filed a civil suit against Maxwell in 2015, who has also been accused of enlisting underage girls under the ruse of modeling assignments. Giuffre claims she was recruited as a sex slave for Epstein at the age of 15 — where she states she was forced into sexual activities with many of Epstein’s friends, including Prince Andrew — when she worked as a spa attendant at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. In 2017, the civil suit was settled between both parties.
After a picture circulated showing supermodel Naomi Campbell on a yacht with Maxwell and Giuffre for her 31st birthday party and a DailyMail article was published connecting her to Epstein, Campbell posted a video response distancing herself from the convicted sex offender.
“I’ve always said I’m not a saint, that I’m a work in progress, but I will not be held hostage by my past,” she said in the Aug. 20 video she uploaded to her YouTube channel. “For me, it’s a distorted piece of journalism — and I do love great journalism — but this is a direct character assassination.”
Campbell, who is being interviewed by an unidentified reporter in the video, goes on to admit that she did know Epstein, as he was “front-and-center at the Victoria’s Secret [fashion] shows,” but that she did not know him personally or was aware of his crimes.
“What he has done is indefensible,” she continued. “And when I heard of what he had done it sickened me to my stomach, just like everybody else because I have had my fair share of sexual predators and thank god that I had good people around me that protected me from this.”
President Trump and Epstein have been linked in the past, with the former once stating to New York Magazine in a 2002 interview, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
When asked about Epstein at the Oval Office on Tuesday, President Trump seemingly went back on his earlier remarks, stating: “I had a falling out a long time ago with him. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him in 15 years.” He added that he was also “not a fan” of Epstein, but didn’t specify the cause of their falling out.
The two were also involved in the same lawsuit filed in 2016, where an unnamed accuser alleged she was sexually assaulted by both Trump and Epstein in 1994 — when she was 13 years old — at Epstein’s New York home. The court documents describe the assault as “acts of rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault and battery,” among others.
Three months later, the victim dropped the case voluntarily.
New York Magazine
In addition to managing Wexner’s finances, Epstein looked to enter publishing in 2003 with a bid to purchase New York Magazine. Working with former New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, advertising executive Donny Deutsch and disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein, the group lost out to Bruce Wasserstein, who purchased the magazine for $55 million.
The following year, Epstein linked up with Zuckerman again to invest in entertainment magazine, Radar, investing up to $25 million. Radar is now owned by American Media Inc.
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