Kanye West has been accused of showing explicit photos of his ex-wife Kim Kardashian to Adidas employees as part of conduct that many saw as “harassment tactics,” according to a new report.
The 43-year-old rapper and producer, also known as Ye, last month lost a design contract with the sportswear brand over anti-Semitic comments. He was accused of showing the images in a Rolling Stone article published Tuesday.
An employee alleged that Ye showed an explicit photo of 41-year-old Kardashian during a job interview in 2018.
“My wife just sent me this,” Ye reportedly said after showing a “very revealing and personal” photo on his phone.
Another former employee claimed, according to the report, that Ye showed “personal” images of Kardashian to the creative team of his brand Yeezy in the same year.
A third unidentified source told Rolling Stone that West was “not afraid to show graphic images or talk about situations that should be kept private.”
Former Adidas employees told Rolling Stone that Ye regularly showed explicit images, including his own sex tapes.
“I think it was a tactic to tear someone down and establish their unwavering allegiance to them, testing and destroying people’s boundaries,” one said. Another claimed that Ye targeted female employees.
Some of the allegations were made in an open letter entitled The Truth About Yeezy: A Call to Action for Adidas Leadership, which was obtained by Rolling Stone. In the letter, employees criticized Adidas executives for allegedly turning off their “moral compass”.
The letter urged Adidas board members and senior leaders to address “the toxic and chaotic environment that Kanye West created” and “a very sick pattern of predatory behavior towards women.”
The letter continued: “He has exploded at women in the room in recent years with offensive comments and would resort to sexually distressing references when giving draft feedback. This kind of reaction from a brand partner is one that Adidas employees should never be subjected to, and Adidas leadership should never tolerate.”
In comments to Rolling Stone, employees of Yeezy and Adidas also expressed regret about accepting what they saw as an unwritten rule — “Kanye is just Kanye” — which they said diminished the impact of his alleged behavior.
In the letter, employees accused Adidas of lacking “responsibility, accountability and protection that Adidas failed to provide to their employees during what we have experienced as years of verbal abuse, vulgar diatribes and harassment”.
A former employee who worked closely with Ye said, “Adidas enabled a lot of that kind of behavior.”
Former Adidas employees also said Ye’s behavior was public when he was a 30 minute documentary on YouTube showing Adidas executives at a company meeting.
The open letter said it spoke to employees who “may be afraid to speak out,” the open letter claims the documentary showed what was “by no means a new harassment approach,” adding that “Kanye’s problematic behavior began within the first years of his association with the Adidas brand”.
An Adidas spokesperson told The Guardian on Wednesday: “Adidas does not tolerate hate speech and offensive behavior and has therefore terminated its partnership with Adidas Yeezy.
“We are and will continue to be in active discussions with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the collaboration. They have our full support and as we work through the details of the termination, we have made it clear that we want to retain the talent and skills of our employees within the organization.
“Having said this, we will not be discussing any private conversations, details or events leading up to our decision to terminate the Adidas Yeezy partnership and we decline to comment on related speculation.”
Ye has not commented. The Guardian could not immediately contact him for comment.
Gap, Balenciaga and the talent agency CAA have also stopped working with Ye. Twitter and Instagram have blocked his accounts.
In October, during Paris Fashion Week, Ye popped up on his own show he wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt and in tweets said he was planning to go “death con” [sic] 3 about Jewish people”. He also accused Adidas and Gap of stealing his designs.
Ye has previously said that pornography “destroyed” his family. He did earlier this month wrote on Twitter: “I am taking a 30-day course. A verbal fast. No alcohol. No adult movies. No intercourse.”