Leslie Wexner receives the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship in 2004
September 8, 1937|
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
|Residence||New Albany, Ohio, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Ohio State University|
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO of L Brands|
|Net worth||US$6.1 billion (March 2017)|
Republican (before 2018)|
Independent (since 2018)
Bella Cabakoff Wexner|
Leslie H. Wexner (born September 8, 1937) is an American businessman. He is chairman and CEO of the L Brands (formerly Limited Brands) corporation. He is a billionaire and has been a philanthropist to diverse charities and a significant donor to political campaigns.
Early life and education
Wexner was born in Dayton, Ohio, to 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 frequently than blouses, which sold at a faster rate. When he told his father this, however, 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 parents' 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 Wexner 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 brick-and-mortar stores, but retaining its online presence), and Express (which has closed all of its Canadian stores and hundreds of its U.S.-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 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 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, an attorney, in a 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 northeast of that city. He owns a 30-room, $47 million, Georgian-inspired estate, on nearly 336 acres (4 km²), that was 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. The Classic consistently drew the top professional show jumping riders because of its elaborate and well-maintained jumping course. In February 2018, Abigail Wexner announced the end of the event, citing the growing number of elite equestrian competitions.
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 eighteenth 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 rename The Ohio State University Medical Center in honor of Wexner, in recognition of his leadership and service to the university and the medical center. Now the medical center is known as Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
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 that supported the 2016 presidential campaign of Jeb Bush.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on September 14, 2018 that Wexner had renounced his affiliation with the Republican Party due to changes in its nature. Wexner made his comment shortly after former President Barack Obama gave a speech on the same Columbus Partnership panel Wexner would address.
- Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Leslie Wexner March 18, 2017
- "Wealthiest Republican supporter in Ohio quits party". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
- 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.
- New York Times: "Bella C. Wexner, 93, Matriarch of a Retail Chain" by Wolfgang Saxon November 10, 2001
- Alexander, Dan. "Victoria's Other Secret: The Low-Key Billionaire Behind The Lingerie Giant". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
- Our annual ranking of America's largest corporations, CNN Money, May 21, 2012
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- "History". wexarts.org. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
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- "Philanthropy, High Points - The Ohio State University". www.osu.edu. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
- 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.
- Wilhelm, Jim (February 14, 2018). "Growth in elite equestrian competitions ends New Albany Classic after 20 years". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Adam Luck and Robert Mendick (24 October 2015). "Billionaire tycoon behind Victoria's Secret 'keeps his multi-million Cotswolds estate away from prying eyes'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
- "Francois Catroux Written by David Netto, Foreword by Diane von Furstenberg - Rizzoli New York - Rizzoli New York". www.rizzoliusa.com. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- "World's 100 Largest Yachts 2008 #14: Limitless". www.powerandmotoryacht.com. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
- Landon Thomas Jr. (2002-10-28). "Jeffrey Epstein: International Money Man of Mystery". New York Magazine.
- "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert - The New York Sun". www.nysun.com. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Statement by the Press Secretary". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "SPHINX Senior Honorary - Ohio State". sphinx.org.ohio-state.edu. Archived from the original on 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
- Dispatch, Encarnacion Pyle, The Columbus. "Ohio State adds Wexner's name to medical center". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
- Hallett, Joe (19 June 2012). "Wexner to host fundraiser for Romney". Columbus Dispatch. Archived from the original on 1 December 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Silva, Mark (29 June 2012). "Romney's Victoria's Secret: It's Out". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- Six-Month Total for Pro-Jeb Bush PAC: $103,167,845.83 Bloomberg. July 31, 2015
- Goldsmith, Suzanne. "Les Wexner renounces Republican Party affiliation after Obama stops in Columbus". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
- Porter, Tom, Republican billionaire, wealthiest donor in Ohio, quits 'nonsense' party of Trump, praises Obama, Newsweek, September 15, 2018
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