The World According to Leslie Wexner, by Kirby Sommers

Leslie Wexner in 1985 in front The Limited in New York City and a friend. Photo: New York Magazine.

Leslie Wexner in 1985 in front The Limited in New York City and a friend. Photo: New York Magazine.

The story I was going to write and the story I am writing are very different. While the media has focused on the superficial aspects of Wexner’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein I’d remembered Wexner through my association with Ira Riklis.

Ira Riklis is the son of Meshulam Riklis - owner of Rapid-American Corporation and from whom Wexner purchased the Lerner Shops in 1984. Riklis (the son) was my abuser and Riklis (the elder) hired a former State Department attorney named Max to keep tabs on me in 1993 (when I was strong enough emotionally to leave Ira). Max and I communicated from 1993 through 2015 when he retired, moved from upstate New York to California, whereupon he informed me he was “handing my file to Ira.”

Based on the fact that I have been severely harassed (both online and in person) from the time I left Ira in 1993 to present day; and that I have had trouble finding anyone to help me on any level: police, attorney, media – I became my own sleuth. In order to know how to protect myself I learned early on to keep tabs on the people Ira talked about. The people that were part of his world.

One of those people was Leslie Wexner.

In 1985 I read an interview where Wexner discussed his dealings with the elder Riklis.

I’d already known that the two men appeared to have a lot in common. They both attended Ohio State University (although some years apart), both began their business careers with “nothing” and both amassed fortunes into the billions of dollars.

In that 1985 piece, Wexner said of Riklis that based on the fact he arrived two hours late to the meeting and talked about superficial things other than the sale of the Lerner Shops – these were clues to Wexner that he held the upper hand. He compared Riklis’s mindset to his and although Wexner concluded there were similarities – both having an “Oriental” mind – he described himself as having a “Chinese mind” while Riklis had one from a different part of the Orient and therefore, he concluded Riklis had a “Turkish mind”. Wexner explained this is how he knew he would buy Lerner Shops. (There would be a lawsuit in the aftermath of the Lerner Shops sale, but I will go into that in a separate article).

The similarities end there because Riklis was a known ladies’ man – having abruptly divorced his wife (whom he’d met in a kibbutz in a young Israel) for 17-year-old Pia Zadora who was known for her childlike plump round face. Coincidentally (or not) Riklis met Zadora in Ohio.

Leslie Wexner, on the other hand, was at the age of 47, a confirmed bachelor. He was already known to be a private person hating to discuss that part of his life and known for keeping it very tucked away. Describing the perfect woman, he described Ali MacGraw as she was in the movie ‘Love Story’ in 1970. “Very pretty but not aggressive.”

Wexner even debunked rumors that had begun to circulate about him being asexual or homosexual insisting he enjoyed a “relationship with a woman.”

While there are many people that both Wexner and Riklis know in business dealings and in their private lives – there is one man the two men met at Ohio State. A professor named Arthur Cullman.


Arthur Cullman was both Meshulam Riklis’s and Leslie Wexner’s marketing professor at Ohio State. Wexner made Cullman a board member of The Limited and in 1969 after Wexner opened the first six stores he went public against the advice of Cullman who had been and remained for many years like a father figure to him.

The following is Arthur Cullman’s New York Time’s obituary from 1992 (am re-posting it here because so much information has been scrubbed off the internet).

W. Arthur Cullman, a retired educator and executive who was a marketing expert, died on Sunday during a visit to Manhattan. He was 77 years old and lived in Columbus, Ohio.

He died of a heart attack, his family reported yesterday.

Dr. Cullman was president of the American Marketing Association in 1977-78. He taught for 35 years at Ohio State University and headed its graduate business programs and marketing faculty.

He served as a consultant and board member for several companies, including The Limited, whose head, Leslie H. Wexner, had been his student.

Dr. Cullman was a benefactor of several organizations, including the Buckeye Boys Ranch for disturbed boys, which he headed. He served on many boards, including the Northwest Council for Human Relations and the Columbus Symphony.

His family owned a cigar tobacco leaf company in Connecticut, and Mr. Cullman initially went into that industry. He worked for four years in sales at the Philip Morris Companies, and four years at Benson & Hedges, where he became executive vice president. One brother, Joseph F. 3d, is chairman emeritus of Philip Morris, and another, Edgar M., headed Culbro, a cigar company.

Mr. Cullman was born in Manhattan. He earned a bachelor's degree from Yale in 1927, a master's in business administration at Harvard in 1939 and a doctorate at Ohio State in 1951.

In addition to his brothers, both of Manhattan, he is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Cecilia Stein; a daughter, Beatrice C. Egger of Madison, Wis.; three sons, W. Arthur Jr., of Columbus, Peter A., of Birmingham, Mich., and Richard L., of Bowling Green, Ohio; another brother, Lewis B., and a sister, Frances Boas, both of Manhattan; 11 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Nathan Fassnacht was employed by the Permanent Family Solutions Network, a division of the Buckeye Ranch, accused of raping two young children between 2000 and 2005.

Nathan Fassnacht was employed by the Permanent Family Solutions Network, a division of the Buckeye Ranch, accused of raping two young children between 2000 and 2005.

Nathan Fassnacht was one of the many men and people I discovered who had committed sexual crimes against the children. A little bit about his particular case can be read here.

Buckeye Boys Ranch for disturbed boys

I read the passage about Arthur Cullman being both a “benafactor” and that he “headed” the Buckeye Boys Ranch and I teared up. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Men who abuse children as we have learned from Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes seem to know each other. They feel safe among each other. In recent days Wexner has done all he can to distance himself from his strange relationship with Epstein and so I pressed on.

I discovered with some basic google searches many cases of sexual child abuse in Buckeye Boys Ranch in Franklin County, Ohio. Repeated abuse of children going back decades so much so that in 2010 they changed their name to just ‘The Ranch.’

In 1961 Buckeye Boys Ranch opened its doors to “troubled boys suffering from emotional or behavioral problems”. In the early 1990s they began to include girls.

2019 Copyright Kirby Sommers

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