NEW YORK — Marty Staff has vigorously denied a German newspaper story that implied he sexually harassed Hugo Boss employees. The Stuttgarter Zeitung story, which ran Saturday, said a former Boss employee received $250,000 to avoid potential scandals and lawsuits.
As reported, Staff, former chief executive of Hugo Boss USA, last week was named chief executive of Penthouse magazine’s licensing operation, PH Brand Management LLC.
The Stuttgarter Zeitung, a regional paper based near Boss’ headquarters in Metzingen, said Boss paid the money to an interior designer who left the company in October 2000.
According to anonymous sources quoted in the article, the woman chronicled allegedly inappropriate behavior by Staff and then had her lawyer send the report to Boss’ top executives in Germany.
The story said that, after leaving Boss, the woman moved to the West Coast and started her own business. A former Boss employee who fit the profile, according to one WWD industry source, was Meg Kalhammer, who designed Boss’ opulent U.S headquarters on West 26th Street in New York.
However, Kalhammer was not named in the Stuttgarter Zeitung story.
Staff described the allegations of sexual harassment as “without merit.” “There is no sexual harassment suit that happened,” he said. When asked specifically about Kalhammer, he described her as an excellent employee who “left to do her own thing.”
Reached by phone in Santa Monica, Calif., Kalhammer said, “I don’t want to talk to you about any of this, thank you,” and hung up.
Reached by phone in Europe, Philipp Wolff, Hugo Boss’ director of worldwide communications, said, “Hugo Boss is not able to comment under the current circumstances because of legal agreements between the company and former employees.”
Boss’ chairman and chief executive Bruno Salzer was vice chairman overseeing Boss international operations during most of Staff’s tenure. The article also quotes anonymous sources that Salzer was aware of Staff’s reputation for wild parties at Boss’ U.S. division.
Staff was at Hugo Boss USA from 1998 until May 2002. He grew the business dramatically, but then took leave as the German office investigated accounting in the U.S. business. Staff, along with chief financial officer Vincent Ottomanelli, left the company and Hugo Boss disclosed accounting errors it rectified with a $6 million charge.