Canadian Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex-Trafficking Charges

Canadian Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex-Trafficking Charges

Canadian Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex-Trafficking Charges

Canadian Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard Indicted on Sex-Trafficking Charges

For decades, Mr. Nygard portrayed himself as a playboy, describing the young women and teenage girls he surrounded himself with as “the source of youth,” according to a video he produced about his attempts to fight aging. He dated celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith and fathered at least 10 children with eight women. Born in Finland, he grew up in Canada, launching his multinational fashion company, Nygard International, in Winnipeg more than 50 years ago.

He divided his time between Canada, the United States and the Bahamas, where he built a sprawling Mayan-themed compound, with sculptures of animal predators and naked women, that he described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

The indictment charged that Mr. Nygard used the prospect of modeling and other fashion industry jobs to lure women and teenage girls. It said that he also he used company funds to pay for so-called pamper parties where he recruited victims with free drinks, manicures and massages.

He forced dozens of victims to engage in “commercial sex,” defined in federal law as any sex act performed in exchange for something of value, and used threats and promises to grant or withhold modeling opportunities or financial support to maintain control, the indictment said.

Nygard International, a privately held company that once claimed to employ 12,000 people, is known mainly for selling leggings and tops to middle-age women through its own outlets and department stores in Canada and the United States.

Mr. Nygard, estimated to be worth roughly $750 million in 2014 by Canadian Business magazine, was known to blend his professional and personal lives. He built lavish apartments in his office buildings. A 1980 news article described an area of his Winnipeg office as a “passion pit” with a mirrored ceiling and a couch that transformed into a bed at the “push of a button.”

He stepped down from his company in February, after federal authorities raided his home in Los Angeles and corporate headquarters in New York, and major customers like the department store chain Dillard’s dropped his fashion lines. In March, the company filed for bankruptcy in Canada and in the United States.

William K. Rashbaum and Kim Wheeler contributed reporting.


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