As of Tuesday, Peter Nygard will no longer be the head of Nygard International. As part of their sex trafficking investigation of the multimillionaire fashion mogul, the NYPD and FBI raided his Times Square offices earlier in the day, and Ken Frydman, a spokesman for Nygard, said in a statement that the chairman would step down and divest his ownership interest. On February 13, 10 women filed a federal lawsuit against Nygard and accused him of sexual assault, among other charges, with most being lured to “pamper parties” at his Bahamas compound.
Outside the New York headquarters, Nygard’s name remains splattered in blazing blue at least seven times over, practically engulfing a Joe’s Pizza outpost. A poster protrudes over the sidewalk, flag-like, capturing Nygard in his typical state, or what he imagines it to be: deeply tanned, shirt half-buttoned, bulging biceps, flowing hair.
While the suit swiftly led to Nygard’s departure from the company that made him so wealthy, there has long been scrutiny of his cartoonishly extravagant behavior. He is reportedly worth over $800 million, and has been the longtime subject of tabloid interest due to, among other things, dating Anna Nicole Smith. His Bahamas estate, which he referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and was dotted with topless statues modeled after former girlfriends, was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. And in 2015, he and the hedge fund manager Louis Bacon began a vigorous legal dispute over their abutting vacation properties that continues to this day. The lawsuits have centered around a shared driveway and other neighborly clashes, but on Wednesday, Nygard’s lawyers added to their long list of claims that Tuesday’s raid emerged from a Bacon-planned conspiracy. (On Saturday the New York Times published an extensive investigation into how the feud led to the federal lawsuit, including a report that Bacon had been paying Nygard associates monetarily or in gifts such as Cartier jewelry in exchange for helping to build the investigators’ case. In a statement, Bacon said, “I was not looking for this fight, but once I heard repeated credible reports from disgusted whistleblowers that Mr. Nygard was abusing young, vulnerable women, I could not ignore the disturbing information. I sought to help and empower them with appropriate law enforcement authorities.”)
The lawsuit has invited natural comparisons to the Jeffrey Epstein case, given Nygard’s outlandish lifestyle, private-island parties, avowed pursuit of models, alleged relationships with underage women, and connections. The first President Bush was a friend of his; Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro have reportedly visited Nygard’s residence in the Bahamas; and in 2000, noted Epstein friend Prince Andrew paid a visit too.
But as with Epstein, who had previously pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution, Nygard’s actions had already come under legal investigation—and he walked away from it every time. The Times reported on Saturday that over the past four decades, nine women in Canada and California have sued him or reported him to the authorities for sexual misconduct. (He has yet to ever be convicted.) The paper also said that lawyers and investigators partly funded by Bacon have claimed Nygard raped teenage girls in the Bahamas. In the February suit, he is also accused of forcing women whom he called “girlfriends” to have sex with other men, and of maintaining a database featuring underage women on his company’s corporate server since 1987. His spokesman denied the allegations to the Times.
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