September 8, 1937 |
|Residence||New Albany, Ohio USA|
|Alma mater||Ohio State University|
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO of L Brands|
|Net worth||US$7.7 billion (March 2015)|
Leslie "Les" H. Wexner (born September 8, 1937) is an American businessman and philanthropist from New Albany, Ohio, and currently chairman and CEO of the L Brands (formerly Limited Brands) corporation.
Wexner was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in Dayton, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University, majoring in business administration. He became a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He briefly attended law school, but left to help his parents run their store in a suburban Columbus, Ohio, shopping center. In 1963, Wexner borrowed $5,000 from his aunt to start The Limited (so named because the store focused on clothing for younger women, unlike his parents' general merchandise store). The Limited opened its first store in the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Upper Arlington. Wexner's parents closed their store one year later and joined their son at The Limited. Wexner took Limited Brands public in 1969, listed as LTD on the NYSE. Wexner is the longest serving CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Over the years he built a large retailing and marketing conglomerate, which currently includes: Victoria's Secret, Pink (Victoria's Secret), Bath & Body Works, Henri Bendel, C. O. Bigelow, The White Barn Candle Company, and La Senza. Previous brands that have spun off include: Lane Bryant, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lerner New York, The Limited Too (now Tween Brands, Inc.), Structure 9, Aura Science, The Limited (separation from Limited Brands by sale of 75% to Sun Capital Investments, made official as of August 3, 2007), Express (separation from Limited Brands by sale of 75% to Golden Gate Capital, made official as of July 6, 2007). Allegations have been made that Wexner's The Limited Inc. has used slave labor both in the United States and abroad. These charges have been made particularly against Victoria's Secret which is part of The Limited Inc. and owned by Leslie Wexner.
Philanthropy and service
In 1989, Wexner and his mother Bella were the first to make a $1 million personal donation to the United Way. Both their names were inscribed in marble, and are on display in the lobby of the United Way Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Wexner was recently recognized as the wealthiest man in the state of Ohio. He is well known for his philanthropy, often to Jewish and Catholic projects. He serves as Honorary Vice Chairman of the Board of Congregation Agudas Achim, in Bexley. He was a major funder of the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University, the name of which is actually intended to honor his father.
In 1984, he established the Wexner Foundation whose goal is to strengthen the field of Jewish leadership. The foundation runs three major programs: the Wexner Heritage Program for North American Jewish volunteers; the Graduate Fellowship for students pursuing a master's degree in the rabbinate, cantorate, or Jewish studies; and an Israel Fellowship which funds Israeli public officials for a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In 1999, Wexner paid $42.1 million for the Picasso Nude in a Black Armchair, and donated it to the Wexner Center for the Arts. Wexner is reported to own other Picasso paintings, and is considered to have one of the 50 largest art collections in the world.
Wexner was appointed to the board of trustees of Ohio State University and served from 1988 to 1997. In December 2005, Wexner was appointed to his second term and was elected chairman of the board in 2009. Spring 2012 marked the end of Wexner's chairmanship and the announcement that he was stepping down later in the year, eight years before his appointment would end.
On May 11, 2004, Wexner received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship at a dinner in Columbus, Ohio. The award was presented by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Wexner was honored because of his commitment to the public good.
On February 16, 2011, Wexner pledged a donation of $100 million to Ohio State, which will be allocated to the University's academic Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, with additional gifts to the Wexner Center for the Arts and other areas. This latest gift is the largest in the University's history.
Through the L Brands Foundation, Wexner and L Brands contributed $163.4 million to the Columbus Foundation.
On February 10, 2012, The Ohio State University Medical Center officially changed its name to the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University commemorating "Mr. Wexner's indelible, lifelong legacy of leadership at Ohio State" according to university president E. Gordon Gee. "For more than three decades, Mr. Wexner has been one of the University's most committed leaders and ardent supporters. His generous contributions, both in time and resources, have been wholly transformational, but his most valuable gift has been his remarkable leadership."
Formerly of the Bexley area of Columbus, Ohio, Wexner now lives in a community just north east of that city. He owns a 30 room, $47 million, Georgian inspired estate, on nearly 336 acres (4 km²) in Ohio built in 1990. The guest quarters of the property take the form of a spectacularly appointed separate structure decorated by the international designer John Stefanidis. The guest house was featured in the July 2004 issue of Architectural Digest. The estate is the location of the Annual New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day benefiting the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, of which Abigail Wexner is Founder and Board Chair. The Classic consistently draws the top professional show jumping riders because of its well maintained and elaborate jumping course.
Also nearby is the major shopping village of Easton Town Center, which Wexner and partners, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, developed. As a pun on his name and his former residence in Bexley, the village of New Albany was known (unofficially) for some time as Wexley. Today, this Georgian-themed village inspires comparison to 18th century developments by wealthy aristocrats in England.
At the time of its construction in 1997, Wexner's Limitless was the largest American-owned private yacht at 315 feet and 7 inches long. Few images exist, as Wexner will not permit any interior photography, nor does he release official exterior photos to the media. The Limitless held the title of largest yacht for six years, but is now over 200 feet shorter than the world's longest yacht.
Wexner had a close relationship with Jeffrey Epstein who managed Wexner's money. Wexner and Epstein parted when Epstein went to prison for felony solicitation of prostitution and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution.
Wexner also was heavily involved in supporting the war against Iraq in 2003.
Wexner was inducted as an honorary member into the 104th Class of SPHINX Senior Class Honorary at The Ohio State University on May 7, 2010.
On February 10, 2012, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees voted to name The Ohio State University Medical Center in honor of Wexner, in recognition of his leadership and service to the university and the medical center. The medical center is now known as Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
- Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Leslie Wexner September 2013
- Our annual ranking of America's largest corporations, CNN Money, May 21, 2012
- Tasini, Jonathan (March 28, 2008). "Victoria's Secret, Slave Labor And So-Called 'Free Trade'". The Huffington Post.
- Price, Rita. "Columbus Foundation nets record $326.4 million in donations". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- Prior, Molly (December 13, 2013). "Leslie H. Wexner Reflects on His Legacy". WWD. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- "WEDDINGS; Abigail Koppel, Leslie Wexner". The New York Times. January 24, 1993.
- "Paid Notice: Deaths KOPPEL, YEHUDA". The New York Times. September 27, 2006.
- Landon Thomas Jr. (2002-10-28). "Jeffrey Epstein: International Money Man of Mystery". New York Magazine.
- "Banker Epstein pleads in prostitution case". Palm Beach Post. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 3/7/2011. Check date values in:
- Hallett, Joe (19 June 2012). "Wexner to host fundraiser for Romney". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Silva, Mark (29 June 2012). "Romney’s Victoria’s Secret: It’s Out". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- The Wexner Foundation
- Wexner Israel Fellowship Program at Harvard University
- The Limitless, Wexner's Yacht at Yachtspotter.com
- Aspen Times article to Wexner Land Swap
- Wildsnow.com article on Sopris Wexner Sutey Land Exchange