THE NYGÅRD FILES: NBC’s “Dateline” aired a two-hour investigative piece Friday night about the embattled apparel executive Peter Nygård, who is awaiting extradition to the U.S. on a nine-count federal indictment on charges of sex trafficking and sexual assault.
Attorneys for Nygård in Canada and the U.S. did not respond to requests for comment regarding the allegations in the “Dateline” special. Nygård, who remains in jail in Canada, has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Nygård said he is no longer working on his behalf and there is no new contact.
In what was a nearly two-year investigation, the special “Secrets of Nygård Cay” featured accusers detailing their alleged abuse and observations of the fashion mogul’s flamboyant and hedonistic lifestyle. NBC’s Natalie Morales spoke with a few women who have accused Nygård of rape or sexual assault, including model Beverly Peele, former Nygård treasurer Mariel Carbuccia, and Jenny Gilmer, who first met Nygård as teenager through a Bahamian tennis instructor. Peele, who had a son as a result of what she said was not a consensual encounter with Nygård, said her son Trey encouraged her to speak out publicly. Peele detailed her accusations in a piece for Elle magazine in February.
Her teenage son also appeared in the segment, recounting how he told Peele, “‘Mom, we need to speak up.’”
Peele said she and her son periodically spent time with Nygård through the years because she wanted him to know his father. She also described the physical torment that she experienced.
Peele, a former model for Nygård, recalled attending “pamper parties,” the women-focused all-night parties that Nygård threw at his Mayan-inspired estate Nygård Cay that were designed for the host to meet women. The “Dateline” segment included allegations of Nygård drugging women and visitors to Nygård Cay having to hand over their passports at the entrance. NBC also reported that party guests had to provide such required information as weight, age and email upon arrival and that information was stored on Nygård company servers.
The “Dateline” segment averaged 3.19 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The show touched upon the Finnish-born Nygård’s rags-to-riches career as a manufacturer of affordable women’s sportswear and careerwear. (The founder ran an $800 million business at its prime.) “The Secrets of Nygård Cay” noted — without naming individuals — how co-conspirators within the company allegedly were tied to Nygård’s alleged sexual misconduct.
One former Nygård vice president described in the show airing concerns and the executive also claimed that he had been silenced, and faced a home invasion for being a whistleblower.
Attorney Greg Gutzler, who is a New York-based lawyer representing dozens of women in a class action suit against Nygård, said the fashion executive targeted select women at the pamper parties, and at times “happy juice,” a beverage with an alleged date-rape drug, was given to them. He spoke of interviewing a 15-year-old Bahamian girl with “no resources,” who was just excited by the prospect of getting a warm meal. Gutzler said she was given a drink, and wanting to fit in, she drank it. “She then said she felt very lightheaded and dizzy, and she couldn’t control her arms and legs,” he said, alleging that Nygård then raped her.
Gutzler claimed that Nygård would use recruiters to go into the impoverished area of the Bahamas to recruit young girls to his parties.
Gutzler did not acknowledge requests for comment.
One of Nygård’s sons Kai, who used to work for his father’s company and has since legally changed his surname to Bickle, is featured throughout the special. He described attending a dinner party where his father allegedly was touching a girl inappropriately and Bickle advised the girl’s mother to get her away from his father. Nygård later allegedly told his son, “Isn’t it interesting that there were 20 people at the dinner party and you’re the only one who saw this? How sick are you that you would even think of such a thing? What a twisted mind you must have. You must be brain damaged.”
Bickle recalled learning how Nygård had been arrested for rape in 1980. Bickle later described the whirlwind of “believing Peter Nygård, my father, was the flamboyant entrepreneur, hardworking businessman and then to find out behind-the-scenes, he’s actually a monster.”