The CEO of Adidas and other senior leaders at the company reportedly discussed concerns as far back as four years ago about continuing the relationship with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, which they feared could implode at any moment.
During a 2018 presentation to members of the company’s board of directors, a group of employees, including CEO Kasper Rorsted, outlined the risks employees face from interacting with Ye, according to The Wall Street Journal. The presentation included mitigation strategies for Adidas’ relationship with Ye, including cutting ties with Yeezy’s creator.
But instead of cutting ties with Ye, the senior executives had business unit leaders share several proposals with the rapper so that Adidas could keep the Yeezy partnership, which accounts for an estimated 8% of annual sales .
Ye and Adidas executives had a meeting in September where he asked for more money and control over the Yeezy brand. Ye also allegedly showed the executives an excerpt from an adult video and accused them of stealing his designs.
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The company agreed to some of Ye’s demands after that meeting, including the ability to sell Yeezy shoes directly to consumers, ownership of future designs, and assurances that he would receive a share of sales of Yeezy look-alike products . The offer would extend the partnership between the two parties until at least 2026. Ye was not pleased, however, as he demanded a whopping $3 billion.
And in October, Adidas ended its relationship with Ye in response to several of the rapper’s anti-Semitic comments.
Adidas said in a statement that it does not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of hate speech.
“Ye’s recent comments and actions are unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness,” the statement said.
Earlier this month, Adidas announced the launch of an investigation into Ye’s conduct after the company received an anonymous letter alleging years of misconduct towards Adidas staff and that the company’s management ignored his conduct.
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The company’s alleged behavior and attempts to detain Yeezy despite that were not new, according to former and current employees of Adidas and Yeezy. Some employees said they raised concerns about Ye’s behavior with senior Adidas leaders and human resources managers as early as 2018.
“It is not clear at this time whether the allegations in an anonymous letter are true,” Adidas said in a statement on Thursday. “However, we take these allegations very seriously and have made the decision to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter to address the allegations.”
The Wall Street Journal contributed to this report.