Leslie Wexner receives the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in 2004
September 8, 1937 |
Dayton, Ohio, US
|Residence||New Albany, Ohio, US|
|Alma mater||Ohio State University|
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO of L Brands|
|Net worth||US$6.1 billion (March 2017)|
|Parent(s)||Bella Cabakoff Wexner
Wexner was born to a Jewish family in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Bella (née Cabakoff) and Harry Wexner. He has one sister, Susan. He attended Ohio State University, majoring in business administration. He became a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity. He briefly attended the Moritz College of Law.
Wexner started working in his parents' clothing store. While they were away on vacation he analyzed the profit and loss margins on the women's clothing they sold. He found that although higher priced clothing (e.g. jackets) cost more money, they sold less often than blouses which sold at a faster rate. When he told his father this, his father was not interested in changing his inventory.
In 1963, Wexner was loaned $5,000 from his aunt to start The Limited (so named because the store focused on a limited amount of merchandise that turned over quickly and had a higher profit margin, unlike his parent's 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. Wexner was ranked #11 on Harvard Business Review’s Top 100 Best Performing CEOs of 2015, and #34 in 2016.
Over the years he built a retailing and marketing conglomerate, which currently includes: Victoria's Secret, Pink (Victoria's Secret), Bath & Body Works, Henri Bendel, 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 (which has closed all of its bricks and mortar stores, but retaining its online presence), and Express (which has closed all of its Canadian stores, and hundreds of its US based stores).
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 is the wealthiest man in Ohio. He is known for his philanthropy, often to Jewish and Catholic projects. He serves as honorary vice chairman 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.
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 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 have ended.
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, 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."
On January 23, 1993, Wexner, then 55 years of age, married Abigail S. Koppel, 31, a lawyer, in a Jewish ceremony at their home in New Albany, Ohio. They have four children: Harry, Hannah, David, and Sarah.
Formerly of the Bexley area of Columbus, Ohio, Wexner now lives in New Albany, 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 estate, was, for twenty years, the location of the Annual New Albany classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day benefiting The Center for Family Safety and Healing. Abigail Wexner announced the end of the event, citing the growing number of elite equestrian competitions, in February 2018. The Classic consistently draws the top professional show jumping riders because of its well maintained and elaborate jumping course.
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, measuring 315 feet and 8 inches (96.25 meters) long and 41 feet (12.50 meters) wide. Few authorized images exist, but photographs of the yacht's interior appear in an October 2016 retrospective of the career of the yacht's interior designer, François Catroux, written by David Netto and published by Rizzoli. The Limitless is one of the largest privately owned yachts in use.
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.
Wexner hosted a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in 2012. Wexner donated $250,000 to Restore Our Future, Romney's Super PAC. In 2015, Wexner donated $500,000 to the Right to Rise USA Super-Pac which supported the 2016 presidential campaign of Jeb Bush.
- Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Leslie Wexner March 18, 2017
- The New York Jewish Week: "Victoria’s Other Secret: She Pays For Rabbinical SchoolCompany CEO Leslie Wexner, also the brains behind tonight’s V.S. fashion show, has paid for 450 Jewish leaders’ graduate educations" by HELEN CHERNIKOFF and ELANA KOOK December 9, 2014
- "Leslie Wexner makes a $100 million donation to Ohio State University". Jewish Business News. 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
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- Six-Month Total for Pro-Jeb Bush PAC: $103,167,845.83 Bloomberg. July 31, 2015