Maurice Marciano Steps Down as a Guess Board Member as Clothing Company Settles Lawsuit
The Guess founder left the board the same day the company agreed to pay millions following a shareholder lawsuit claiming the clothing brand turned a blind eye to sexual harassment.
After being involved with Guess for more than 40 years, Maurice Marciano, one of the four brothers who founded Guess in 1981, has retired from the company’s board of directors, according to a recent company statement.
With Maurice’s departure, that leaves only one Marciano brother still working at the company. Paul Marciano, 71, remains the chief creative director and a board member of the Los Angeles venture that started out making blue jeans and expanded into a global lifestyle brand.
“My brothers and I founded Guess based on a vision to create an iconic lifestyle brand that consumers around the globe would love,” said Maurice Marciano in a statement. “Today, I’m proud to say that we have turned that vision into a reality, in what has been an incredibly fulfilling journey for me personally. As the second largest shareholder of Guess, I’m grateful to the board, to Paul, and to Carlos [Alberini, the CEO] and the entire Guess family for their partnership and commitment to our brand.”
Maurice, 74, was the chief executive officer of the fashion-forward brand for more than a decade. With his three brothers, he grew the company into a powerhouse clothing company with annual revenues in fiscal 2023 totaling $2.7 billion. It operates more than 1,000 stores around the world.
In 2020, Maurice was injured in a serious bicycle accident near his Napa Valley, Calif., home that left him unable to speak. Because of extensive rehabilitation and therapy, he at the time stepped down as the board’s non-executive chairman but remained on the board. He was the company’s CEO from 1993 to 2007, retiring from the company in late 2011.
The story of Guess is a traditional rags to riches tale. The Marciano brothers left the south of France decades ago, arriving in Los Angeles where they started the blue jeans brand.
Georges, 76, who headed the company at the time, left the company in the early 1990s, selling his 40 percent share for around $220 million to invest in commercial real estate and collect art, cars and jewelry he stored at his Beverly Hills mansion. He amassed a fortune once calculated at $500 million. Georges was renowned for buying an 84-carat diamond — the size of a quail’s egg — in 2007 for $16 million as an investment.
But soon after, things went south when Georges sued several employees he believed had stolen from him. They countersued and in 2009 he lost his lawsuit with a judgment against him to pay the employees hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Georges was forced into involuntary bankruptcy. His Beverly Hills mansion, two other homes, his Boeing 747 and his 11 Ferraris were sold by a bankruptcy trustee. He also lost the diamond. Later, he moved to Montreal.
Armand, 78, sold his 15 percent stake in Guess in 2002 and joined forces with Los Angeles clothing guru Allen Schwartz to buy back ABS by Allen Schwartz from the Warnaco Group. Armand left ABS nearly a decade ago.
Paul has been a more controversial figure. Several years ago, as the chief creative director, he was accused of sexually harassing some of the models he worked with while creating company advertising campaigns. Almost a week ago, Guess’ directors agreed to a settlement worth $30 million to resolve claims brought in a pension fund lawsuit that the company turned a blind eye to Paul’s harassment of the company’s models. The settlement comes years after sexual misconduct allegations were made in 2018 by supermodel Kate Upton and others. At the time, Guess paid $500,000 to settle those sexual harassment claims.
Also, last year, Guess agreed to pay $1 million to settle lawsuits filed by two unnamed models who accused Paul of abusing them.
The board’s decision to pay up to $30 million, according to a court filing in Delaware Chancery Court, comes from a shareholder lawsuit filed by the Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island, which claimed Guess failed to monitor the creative director’s conduct.