Kanye West has been accused of showing explicit pictures of his former wife Kim Kardashian to employees at Adidas, as part of behavior many saw as “intimidation 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 on Tuesday.
One employee claimed Ye showed an explicit picture of Kardashian, 41, during a job interview in 2018.
“My wife just sent me this,” Ye allegedly said after showing a “very revealing and personal” photo on his phone.
Another former employee, according to the report, alleged Ye showed “personal” images of Kardashian to the creative team at his Yeezy brand in the same year.
A third unidentified source told Rolling Stone West was “not afraid to show explicit images or talk about situations that should be kept private”.
Former Adidas employees told Rolling Stone Ye frequently showed explicit images, including his own sex tapes.
“I feel it was a tactic to break a person down and establish their unwavering allegiance to him, testing and destroying people’s boundaries,” one said. Another claimed 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 toward women”.
The letter continued: “He has, in years past, exploded at women in the room with offensive remarks, and would resort to sexually disturbing references when providing design feedback. This type of response from a brand partner is one that Adidas employees should never be subjected to, nor should Adidas leadership ever tolerate.”
In comments to Rolling Stone, employees at Yeezy and Adidas also voiced regret at accepting what they saw was an unwritten rule – “Kanye is just Kanye” – that 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 their employees throughout what we experienced as years of verbal abuse, vulgar tirades, and bullying attacks”.
One former employee who worked closely with Ye said: “Adidas enabled a lot of that kind of behavior.”
Former employees at Adidas also said Ye’s behavior was on public view when he released a 30-minute documentary on YouTube in which he showed Adidas executives at a company meeting.
Saying it spoke for employees who “may be fearful of speaking up”, the open letter claims the documentary showed what was “by no means a new intimidation approach”, adding that “Kanye’s problematic behavior started within the first year of his partnership with the Adidas brand”.
On Wednesday, an Adidas spokesperson told the Guardian: “Adidas does not tolerate hate speech and offensive behavior and therefore has terminated the Adidas Yeezy partnership.
“We have been and continue to be actively engaged in conversations with our employees about the events that led to our decision to end the partnership. They have our full support and as we’re working through the details of the termination, we have been clear that we want to keep our employees’ talent and skills within the organization.
“Having said this, we will not discuss private conversations, details or events that led to our decision to terminate the Adidas Yeezy partnership and decline to comment on any related speculation.”
Ye has not commented. The Guardian was not immediately able to contact him for comment.
Gap, Balenciaga and the talent agency CAA have also dropped partnerships with Ye. Twitter and Instagram have blocked his accounts.
In October, during Paris fashion week, Ye appeared at his own show wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-Shirt and in tweets said he planned to go “death con [sic] 3 ten Jewish people”. He also accused Adidas and Gap of stealing his designs.
Ye has previously said pornography “destroyed” his family. Earlier this month, he wrote on Twitter: “I’m taking a 30-day cleanse. A verbal fast. No alcohol. No adult films. No intercourse.”