What is Les Wexner’s Net Worth?
Leslie Wexner is an American businessman who has a net worth of $6 billion. For much of his adult life, Leslie Wexner has been the richest person in Ohio. Les Wexner earned his first fortune as the founder of the specialty clothing retail company The Limited in 1963. He expanded his empire considerably over the ensuing years, acquiring or establishing such retailers as Victoria’s Secret, Express, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Bath & Body Works. Wexner experienced an extreme level of reputational damage due to his longtime and inexplicable relationship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Over the years they were friends, Epstein reportedly used his connection to Wexner to lure young women. For reasons no one quite understands, Leslie gave Epstein power of attorney over his affairs. Epstein oversaw Wexner’s money, the construction of a yacht and even signed his tax returns on the billionaires behalf. During their years working together, Wexner reportedly paid Epstein $200 million in fees. Wexner would later claim that Epstein “misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family.” The damage to his reputation was so severe that Wexner went from being a lauded billionaire and philanthropist to a somewhat disgraced former mogul who stepped down from his company in February 2020.
Early Life and Education
Leslie Wexner was born on September 8, 1937 in Dayton, Ohio to Harry and Bella. His father was a Russian-born Jew, while his mother, also of Russian-Jewish descent, was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Wexner has a younger sister named Susan. He was educated at Bexley High School, and then at the Ohio State University, from which he graduated in 1959 with a degree in business administration. Wexner subsequently attended the Moritz College of Law at OSU for a brief time.
Wexner got his start in retail working in his parents’ clothing store, Leslie’s. His parents eventually put him in charge of the store when they went away on vacation. Running the store, Wexner developed his business acumen by analyzing profit and loss margins on the women’s apparel that was being sold.
The Limited / L Brands
In 1963, Wexner received a loan from his aunt Ida of $5,000. He had the money matched by a bank, and then used it to found the clothing retail company the Limited. The name of the company referred to its limited focus on moderately price merchandise, including shirts, skirts, and sweaters. On August 10, 1963, Wexner opened the first Limited store in the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington, Ohio. He opened a second store the next year, and took Limited public by the end of the decade. Wexner expanded substantially throughout the 70s, with his 100th Limited store opening in 1976. He also acquired the manufacturer and importer Mast Industries, giving him a leg up over his competitors. In the 80s, Wexner doubled his retail holdings by acquiring numerous other companies, notably the lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret. Having purchased the company for only $1 million, he took it to an estimated worth of $1 billion by the 90s.
Wexner continued to significantly build out his business empire throughout the 90s. Early in the decade, he founded the retail chain Bath & Body Works, which sells soaps, lotions, candles, and fragrances. Eventually, L Brands was rebranded under the name Bath & Body Works. Through his conglomerate, Wexner has operated such other notable brands as Henri Bendel, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, and La Senza.
Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein
In the 80s, Wexner hired financier and infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as his financial manager. During their association, which lasted until 2007, Wexner was Epstein’s main billionaire client. In the early 90s, at which time Wexner’s net worth was $1.8 billion, he granted Epstein power of attorney and appointed him as a trustee to the Wexner Foundation.
Wexner has frequently been accused of failing to take action when employees of his companies complained about Epstein’s lewd, abusive behavior. Many of Epstein’s crimes reportedly took place at Wexner’s property, where Wexner allowed him to run his business. The relationship between the two is discussed in the 2022 documentary “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons.”
In 1989, Wexner and his mother became the first people to make a $1 million personal donation to the United Way. Wexner has made numerous other donations over the years, including to his alma mater the Ohio State University. In 2011 he donated $100 million to Ohio State to establish the Wexner Center for the Arts. That still stands as the largest gift in Ohio State University’s history. His other major philanthropic endeavors have included his Wexner Foundation, which seeks to nurture Jewish professionals and community leaders, and the Mega Group, a loosely organized club of wealthy businessmen devoted to Jewish issues.
1954 Ferrari Legal Battle
In 2013 Les Wexner paid $16.5 million for a 1954 Ferrari 375 Plus at auction. Unfortunately, he quickly found out that this particular Ferrari also had a disputed ownership history. It took three years and $12 million in ADDITIONAL legal fees before the situation was resolved and Leslie was allowed to keep the Ferrari with a clean title.
Personal Life and Properties
At the age of 55 in early 1993, Wexner married 31-year-old attorney Abigail S. Koppel. The pair has four children, and resides in a 30-room, $47 million Georgian-inspired estate spanning around 336 acres in New Albany, Ohio. For 20 years, the estate was the site of the Annual New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day, which attracted professional show-jumping riders to benefit charity. However, Wexner’s wife announced the end of the event in early 2018.
Wexner also owns the 18th-century Foxcote House in Warwickshire, England. Among his other properties, he owns the 315-foot superyacht Limitless, one of the largest privately owned yachts in the world.