In the aftermath of Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest, one of the more confounding mysteries surrounded how the man made his money. Some suggested he engaged in an elaborate blackmail scheme, others thought he was a money launder. But it always seemed as if one man was in a particularly good place to know the truth.
For years, Leslie Wexner was the only publicly known client of Epstein’s money management firm. The CEO of L Brands, which controls stores such as Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, Wexner’s relationship with Epstein raised suspicion from its beginning in the mid ’80s.
Now, for the first time since Epstein’s arrest, Wexner has spoken out in some detail about the relationship and suggested a new theory for how Epstein got rich: He stole millions. In a letter to the Wexner Foundation, the 81-year-old Ohio billionaire wrote that Esptein “misappropriated vast sums of money from me,” stealing more than $46 million in their decade and a half working together.
Wexner explained in the letter that giving Epstein power of attorney, a move that allowed Epstein to sign checks and borrow money in Wexner’s name, was not out of the ordinary in the context of their relationship. He also wrote that he trusted Epstein based on “various well-known and respected individuals” who were his clients and his friends.
But around 2007, Wexner cut ties following charges against Epstein for unlawful sex acts with a minor. That’s when Wexner discovered he’d been ripped off. “It was agreed that he should step back from the management of our personal finances,” Wexner wrote. “In that process, we discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family. This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now.”
Wexner didn’t put an exact dollar figure on Epstein’s misappropriation, but he did write that $46 million was recovered after the theft was discovered. That, Wexner wrote, represented only “some of the funds.”
“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.”
If Wexner’s goal with the letter was to clear up questions about his relationship with Epstein, it’s not clear that it will have the desired effect. Largely because it seems to have raised a new question: If Epstein stole millions of dollars from Wexner, why didn’t he call the cops?