The days leading up to Harvey Weinstein’s downfall were filled with panic and last-ditch attempts to save his reputation, according to a Vanity Fair article published Wednesday.
Knowing that The New York Times and New Yorker were planning to publish stories about accusations of sexual harassment and assault, Weinstein assembled a legal dream team — including David Boies, Lisa Bloom and Charles Harder.
But along with the professionals, Weinstein also took matters into his own hands, Vanity Fair reported, spending his last days at The Weinstein Company searching for and trying to delete documents and surveilling ex-employees’ online communications.
Read the biggest takeaways about the “tawdry battle that was waged from inside the Weinstein bunker” from the Vanity Fair article below.
According to a statement the company provided to Vanity Fair, on Oct. 1, Weinstein’s vice president of human resources, Frank Gil, entered the offices of TWC employees without their knowledge and “may have been responsible for the disappearance of personnel files.” Those offices, sources said, belonged to TWC president and chief operating officer David Glasser and Irwin Reiter, the company’s comptroller, who had worked for the Weinsteins for 28 years. Reiter had apparently grown disdainful of, and increasingly vocal about, Weinstein’s philandering as well as his abusive behavior toward subordinates. Contemporaneous e-mails reviewed by Vanity Fair also suggest that Reiter’s computer may have been accessed without his consent. (He declined to comment to the magazine).
On Oct. 3, Weinstein and a handful of TWC staffers stood around a computer, Vanity Fair reported. An I.T. specialist was summoned and a sensitive document was called up on the screen, and then Weinstein, according to sources present at the time, turned to an assistant seated before him and said, “This is where you get out of the chair.” Another member of the group then stepped in and — at Weinstein’s direction — tried to delete a document called “HW friends” from both the local workstation and the corporate servers.
But the file did not disappear entirely. A copy was later recovered and obtained by Vanity Fair. It is a list of 63 women broken down by location: New York, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom and Cannes, France. An investigator who had canvassed TWC employees about Weinstein’s actions commented, “The maintenance of a list of women’s names per city — the optics of that were not good.” (Vanity Fair is not aware of any evidence to suggest that Weinstein behaved improperly toward those named on the list.)
Company officials and investigators contend that Gil may have made off with portions of Weinstein’s personnel file. The dossier, which included documents going back many years, according to these sources, was found to be missing all material from 2016 and 2017. Also unaccounted for, two executives said, was a personnel file belonging to Sandeep Rehal, a former assistant of Weinstein’s who quit in February 2015 and recently sued TWC, and Weinstein personally, for sexual discrimination and harassment. A spokesman for Gil told the magazine that he “has a binding non-disclosure obligation that prevents him from responding, but he denies engaging in any wrongdoing whatsoever at any time.”
In the lawsuit, Rehal’s attorney claimed that his client was forced to “play maid to [Weinstein’s] sexual encounters” and was required to purchase erectile-dysfunction medication on her boss’s behalf.
According to two senior officials, a pair of Oscar statuettes were missing from the company’s back-to-back best-picture wins, for “The King’s Speech” (2010) and “The Artist” (2011).
“Immoral” but not “Illegal”
Nicole Quenqua, TWC’s head of publicity, said she had been kept in the dark. Seven days before the Times piece would become public, Weinstein invited her to join him at the Tribeca Gril. And even though Quenqua was in charge of publicity and marketing, it was the first time, she said, that her boss had opened up to her, if cryptically, about the forthcoming news stories about him. “Everything’s going to be fine,” she recalled him assuring her. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I mean, I might have done some things that are immoral. But I didn’t do anything that was illegal.
Obsessed With Seeking Revenge
As one TWC executive said, “Harvey’s concern was who did him in, not what he had done.” Quenqua added that Weinstein was determined to find out who was providing reporters with a road map to his personal life, angrily confiding in her, she said, even as he fished for information.
“I thought the Times article [published on Oct. 5] was going to be bad but I didn’t have a clue about the extent and severity of the accusations,” Nicole Quenqua told Vanity Fair. “When I got the ‘push’ notification and I read that story at my desk, my mouth dropped open and there were tears. I was shocked and shaking. Then Harvey called. I couldn’t believe he was calling me.” Weinstein, she contended, was requesting that she bring her PR squad to help manage the crisis. She responded, “My team? No, my team’s not coming over.”
On Oct. 6, Gil and Weinstein spoke by phone and Gil supposedly made a proposition, as recounted by sources familiar with the call [to Vanity Fair] and the events that followed. Gil, they said, offered to provide proof — in exchange for a seven-figure payment — that TWC president and C.O.O. David Glasser and Weinstein’s brother, Bob, had been the ones who had leaked damaging details to the press. These same sources said that Weinstein countered Gil’s request, purportedly promising to double Gil’s company salary if the H.R. chief would share his information, in person, with one of Weinstein’s attorneys. (Glasser and Bob Weinstein have both denied any involvement).
When reached for comment, a representative for Harvey Weinstein directed TheWrap to the statement made to Vanity Fair: “Mr. Weinstein has dedicated his life to building The Weinstein Company and before that Miramax, and he continues to want only what is in the best interests of The Weinstein Company moving forward. Because of ongoing litigation, however, Mr. Weinstein is prevented from responding to the many provably false assertions made in this article, but looks forward to doing so at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum … Frank Gil was/is an invaluable employee and friend of the Company.”
Read the full Vanity Fair article here.