You might think that Apollo Global Management founder Leon Black’s downfall had something to do with his doggedly sticking by his convicted sex offender buddy, Jeffrey Epstein. You might think, whether you believe her to be telling the truth or not, that his alleged sexual abuse of his former mistress might be at fault.
Black, as only a billionaire can, knows better. After all, as he and his ilk well know, no one ever enjoys his level of success is actually capable of wrongdoing. No: His disgrace has nothing to do with his penchant for picnicking on a private island dedicating to sex trafficking in underage girls, nor his long and fruitful (for Epstein, anyway) “limited” business relationship with the dead pedophile, nor even people and prosecutors getting unduly but predictably exercised about the same. No, the only reason he is no longer chairman and CEO of the private equity behemoth he built is because he told his longtime partner and co-founder Josh Harris that he couldn’t succeed him, and Harris decided to have his revenge.
Mr. Harris “waged a highly coordinated and orchestrated campaign to destroy Mr. Black’s professional and personal reputation,” said Mr. Black’s lawyer, Susan Estrich. Mr. Harris’s advisers “whispered to investors, placed articles and ultimately supported and encouraged an effort by Ms. Ganieva to make knowingly false claims in the courts about her relationship with Mr. Black,” she said.
All of which would be much more compelling had Black, like Prince Andrew, not waged his own campaign to destroy his reputation by remaining buddy-buddy with Epstein after his first conviction for sex crimes, a fact which Harris can’t help but point out, all too gleefully, we imagine.
Mr. Harris, his spokesman said, “was direct with Black that his connections to Epstein were damaging the company. The notion that Mr. Harris was motivated by anything other than the best interests of the company is false—Black’s relationship with Epstein was disqualifying, plain and simple.”
To all of which Apollo itself can only desperately plead, “nothing to do with us, no sir.”
“The firm has never been more aligned or better positioned to create value for all of our stakeholders,” an Apollo spokesman said. “The legal dispute playing out between two former employees is unfortunate but won’t impact our strategy, businesses, or mission.”
Sure doesn’t sound like his old firm will be putting the welcome mat out for old Leon any time soon.
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