Peter Nygard, the flamboyant Canadian fashion mogul, built a nearly billion-dollar fortune hawking slacks and blouses at Sears, Walmart and his own store in Times Square. Known as a hard-partying Peter Pan, the man Forbes dubbed “The Polyester Phenom” was often surrounded by young women and threw legendary parties at his homes in the Bahamas and Los Angeles.
But it all came to a halt in February when the FBI raided Nygard’s Manhattan office. The bust came just a week after 10 unidentified women filed a federal lawsuit accusing the 78-year-old of a “decades-long sex-trafficking scheme” in which he “recruited, lured, and enticed young, impressionable and often impoverished children and women, with cash payments and false promises of lucrative modeling opportunities” — only to, allegedly, sexually assault and rape them. On April 22, 36 more women joined a class-action complaint against Nygard.
The new book “Predator King: Peter Nygard’s Dark Life of Rape, Drugs and Blackmail” (Hot Books) by Melissa Cronin tells this dark story. (Nygard’s lawyer, who has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the book’s publisher, told The Post: “‘Predator King’ recklessly presents a one-sided, unreliable, and wholly misleading portrayal of the allegations against Mr. Nygard.”) Here, an adapted excerpt chronicles how Nygard allegedly used his power and privilege to take advantage of people.
Much of the alleged illegal activity is said to have taken place in and around Nygard’s 150,000-square-foot estate in Lyford Cay, Bahamas, which featured fake volcanos spouting dry ice, a gym on the beach, statues of nudes supposedly modeled on Nygard’s exes, a “disco hut” with cameras under the floors, an underground Mayan-themed cave housing 30 cars and an indoor swimming pool with glass through the middle, which allegedly had dolphins on one side and sharks on the other.
Massive cauldrons come to life, blazing with flames. The eyes of concrete Mayan-style gargoyles and snakes glow like embers. Angry organ chords in a minor key shoot out across the ocean, the beach and the surrounding properties: the foreboding first notes of the theme to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
When Peter Nygard was in residence at Nygard Cay, neighbors say, that was the nightly soundtrack. In the booming early 2000s, Nygard Cay was a playground for lingerie and bikini models flown in from Las Vegas and other major US cities.
According to Nygard’s [house manager], Richette Ross, his staffers used Facebook posts and messages to promote upcoming parties, which offered “free dinners, massages, pedicures, and boat rides” to guests—“mainly females,” said Ross. “Mr. Nygard didn’t like the competition.”
Once the party began, though, Nygard would kick off a twisted competition of his own, she claimed. As guests arrived, they would be photographed and entered into Nygard’s personal database. He even rated them upon entry, Ross claimed: A, B, C or D, with A being the most beautiful. Ross claimed [those] women had to have what Nygard called “a nice toilet … a nice ass. It had to be big and round.”
Ross claimed, “Throughout the day, he’d ask a particular girl if she’d like to stay the night.” If she said no? Ross alleged, “Then there’s always drugging.”
Ross said that she personally witnessed one of Nygard’s bartenders drop a pill into a girl’s drink.
“Around 10:00, we were almost ready to shut down,” Ross claimed, when she spotted the girl again. “She was crying … naked … in the office. Disorientated.”
Tragically, according to Ross, this wasn’t an unusual occurrence. She claimed, “It happened often.” She even said that at least once, she saw a girl “escape” from the property, only to be brought back by Bahamian police, apparently against her will.
When the New York Times covered the sexual assault accusations against Nygard earlier this year, it revealed that two accusers interviewed had then recanted and said they had been paid to lie by Ross. (Nygard has also claimed that his billionaire neighbor, Louis Bacon, with whom he’s feuded for years, has paid people to make false statements about him.) However, Ross denied having paid anyone to lie and passed a polygraph test supporting her denial. In the book, Ross alleges that she herself even fell prey to her boss’ wicked scheme…
Nygard’s girlfriend offered [Ross] a glass of wine. It seemed unusual, and she declined the offer to focus on her work. Still, Ross said, “She stopped me and insisted I have that glass of wine.” “As I was going up the stairs … I felt a warmness coming over my body. I turned to tell [Nygard] I wasn’t feeling good. I remember going down.
“When I came to,” Ross alleged, “he was penetrating me. I could see from the mirror (on the ceiling). I knew he was on top of me. I remember trying to ease my way to the edge of the bed … He raped me.”
Ross finally quit working for Nygard in 2014. She found support in a local nonprofit organization founded to help sexual violence victims. Ross even became a sort of leader in the community, introducing other alleged victims to the organization in the hopes of getting them therapy and the community support they’d never had.
Before long, though, Ross had made herself a target. “At one point, I was basically in hiding,” she alleged, describing threats that were issued “all the time.”
She even has alleged that Nygard went so far as to kill her family dog. The New York Times found that Nygard actually wired her $10,000 at one point, emailing Ross: “I sent you money to buy a new dog.” (He blamed the dog’s death on a political rival.)
According to the book, Nygard had almost unlimited power to do what he wanted in the Bahamas after bribing officials from the government’s Progressive Liberal Party.
Former Nygard employee Richette Ross said … she was personally tasked with putting together payoffs for high-ranking [Progressive Liberal Party] members.
[She claimed to have seen] “stacks of $10,000 bundles from the bank” stuffed into bags for delivery. For some, Ross said even that method of handoff was too risky. She claimed that Nygard got creative in his efforts to pay off politicos.
“Mr. Nygard had required that I order some very large fish,” she said. “He had about $100,000 in $10,000 bundles. He told me he wanted me to break them up, roll them, and put them in this fish.”
According to records obtained by the Bahamas Tribune, Shane Gibson [a member of the PLP] received $94,131.10 deposited into his Miami bank account from the Nygard Companies in 2012 and 2013. The donations were usually $5,000 or more, and were deposited on a semi-regular basis, marked “services” or “travel.”
When confronted with the records, Gibson, the Minister of Immigration and Labor at the time, told the Tribune that they were campaign donations, as well as financial contributions to community programs he was spearheading, like scholarships for local students. Gibson would later be photographed at one of Nygard’s “pamper parties” in 2014. (Gibson did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.) With Nygard’s support, the PLP rolled to victory in 2012 and the designer was quick to claim credit.
According to court documents obtained by the Tribune newspaper … shortly [after the election] the government “determined that appropriate acreage should be leased to Mr. Peter Nygard” so he could … develop a stem cell facility as a part of what was termed a “touristic development.”
Nygard admitted to having [met with government officials], but his attorneys later claimed that the minutes of that meeting had been fabricated, and that he had no desire to “curry preferential treatment by the Bahamian government.” The campaign to get his stem cell mecca built, though, would consume him for the next several years.
Nygard, obsessed with staying young, ended up establishing his stem cell research company in nearby St. Kitts. The alleged purpose: to use aborted fetuses from his pregnant girlfriends to provide him with fresh stem cells.
Nygard seemed to suggest that something like that could be afoot when he talked about the technology behind his treatments publicly. “I may be the only person in the world,” he bragged, “who has my own embryos growing in a petri dish.”
When I came to … he was on top of me. I remember trying to ease my way to the edge of the bed.
– Peter Nygard’s former house manager Richette Ross, claiming in ‘Predator King’ that he drugged and raped her
One of his girlfriends, Suelyn Medeiros, wrote in her 2014 memoir about a trip she took with Nygard to Ukraine, where he was having stem cell research done.
“He asked, ‘Suelyn, do you know what the best stem cells are?’” she writes.
She did: Embryos.
“Correct!” she says Nygard responded. “If you got pregnant and had an abortion, we could use those embryonic cells and have a life’s supply for all of us: you, your mother and me. A lot of people are doing it.”
Medeiros says she “was beyond stunned.”
“This was the sickest thing I’d ever heard Peter say,” she writes. “I couldn’t speak for a moment … Finally, catching my breath, I said, ‘Peter, I do not believe in abortion.’”
On Feb. 13, 2020, a class-action complaint on behalf of several Jane Does was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and revealed Nygard’s depravation.
On so many nights, it was alleged, the same story would unfold: Nygard lures the victims to his bedroom or has them ushered there by groomers, under the false pretense of discussing a potential modeling contract in private, where he uses physical force or coercion or knowing the victim has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in commercial sex acts and coerce and force them to engage in unwanted sexual acts …
The amounts of money provided to the victims is more than most of [them] have seen at one time in their entire lifetimes … He promises many victims that he will contact them about future modeling contracts. However, in the vast majority of cases, Nygard never intends to follow through with the modeling contracts and tells his victims this for the sole purpose of maintaining control over them.
[He] also threatens the victims with implied or express threats of retribution if they tell anyone about what happened, often implying or expressly threatening to have his victims killed if they do not cooperate.
Today, Nygard’s Lyford Cay estate is quiet — no more “Phantom of the Opera” melodies — after it was seized by local authorities in 2018 because of illegal dredging, according to Canada’s National Post. The mogul’s company filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in New York last week, and Nygard is reportedly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, awaiting the outcome of the FBI investigation.