The Release of Epstein’s Contact List Sparks Questions About Wexner Ties

New Albany, Ohio – The recent release of Jeffrey Epstein’s contact list from a 2015 lawsuit has brought renewed scrutiny to the ties between the disgraced financier and Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of retail brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.

While Wexner himself has not been charged with any crime, his appearances in the newly unsealed court documents raise questions about his past business dealings and relationship with Epstein.

Wexner and Epstein were business partners for decades, with Epstein serving as Wexner’s financial adviser and holding power of attorney over his affairs. This close relationship gave Epstein broad authority to act on Wexner’s behalf in both business and personal matters.

In the mid-1990s, Epstein was listed as a co-president of The New Albany Company, Wexner’s real estate development firm responsible for the New Albany community in suburban Columbus where Wexner resides. Epstein also owned property in New Albany, including a $3.5 million home that he later signed over to the Wexners for no charge in 2007 after allegations emerged against him in Florida.

The most prominent joint real estate venture between Wexner and Epstein was the 1989 purchase of a Manhattan townhouse for $13.2 million, which was the highest price ever paid for a residence in the city at the time. While this property was jointly owned on paper by entities controlled by the two men, Wexner never actually lived there. Nine years later, Wexner transferred his stake in the townhouse entirely to Epstein for $20 million. By this time, Epstein had already been residing there for several years.

In addition to their real estate dealings, Epstein was also involved with Wexner’s charitable endeavors. He previously served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, Wexner’s philanthropic organization, despite having no direct executive role.

Epstein’s role managing Wexner’s finances and affairs reportedly ended in 2007 once allegations began surfacing in Florida about Epstein’s involvement with underage girls. This marked the beginning of the severing of ties between the two men.

However, later that same year, Epstein made a $47 million donation to YLK Charitable Fund, a new nonprofit set up by Wexner’s wife Abigail. This turned out to be the only donation ever made to YLK Charitable Fund, which dissolved just three years later. Wexner would later claim that the $47 million actually came from funds Epstein had embezzled from him over the years.

The recently unsealed court documents provide even further details about the Wexner-Epstein relationship. In a deposition, Epstein’s one-time partner Ghislaine Maxwell was asked whether she had ever provided a sexually-charged outfit to a woman to wear for Wexner. Maxwell responded with a firm denial.

When asked if she had communicated with Wexner about the ongoing lawsuit, she also responded in the negative. Another witness in the case said she had never met Wexner when asked about her interactions with him and other high-profile figures.

While no concrete allegations of criminal misconduct have been made against Wexner himself, his long, close business relationship with Epstein has subjected him to increased scrutiny in recent years. The unsealing of previously sealed court documents has only added to the speculation around how much Wexner potentially knew about Epstein’s activities during the years of their partnership.

For his part, Wexner has maintained that he had no knowledge of Epstein’s illegal behaviors and was blindsided when allegations first came to light in 2007. In a 2019 letter, Wexner accused Epstein of misappropriating tens of millions of dollars from the Wexner family over the years. He has also described cutting ties with Epstein once his credibility was “destroyed.”

Still, many observers continue to find it hard to believe that Wexner could have been so closely involved with Epstein for so long without having some knowledge of or suspicions about his partner’s misconduct. While concrete evidence implicating Wexner in any crime is lacking, the court of public opinion has been less forgiving in its assessment of the seemingly implausible claims that Wexner was completely unaware.

The unsealing of Epstein’s address book, flight logs, and other documents will continue to keep the nature and extent of Wexner’s involvement with Epstein in focus. Though Wexner has gone to great lengths to distance himself and his businesses from Epstein, the tangled financial web between the two has proven hard to untangle. Questions will likely continue to surface, even if direct legal culpability remains elusive. For Wexner, the Epstein association continues to cast a long shadow from which he has been unable to fully emerge.

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