New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft has left the board of Apollo Global Management, the private-equity giant that lately has been grappling with controversy over a co-founder’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
Kraft, who had joined Apollo’s board in 2014, quietly stepped down as a director last week, according to a Friday securities filing. The filing didn’t elaborate on the reason for Kraft’s resignation, but a source close to the situation said Kraft’s exit was his idea and that he wasn’t pressured to leave.
Sources said Kraft was a friend of billionaire Leon Black, who made a surprise announcement last month that he was stepping down immediately as chairman and chief executive of the buyout firm. According to press reports, Black attended Kraft’s surprise 75th birthday party in 2016 where rocker Jon Bon Jovi performed.
According to a source close to the situation, Kraft on Jan. 26 told Apollo’s board he was planning to step down from the company by June 1, his 80th birthday. That was a day after Black had announced he would step down as Apollo’s CEO on or by July 31, his 70th birthday.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Kraft last week decided to step down earlier then planned. In January, the board asked Kraft to stay on while Apollo completed the company’s “transition,” the source said.
Kraft declined to comment through a spokesman on Monday. An Apollo spokesperson wasn’t immediately able to comment.
“On April 6, 2021, Robert Kraft, a member of the Board of Directors of Apollo Global Management, informed the Company of his decision to resign as a member of the Board, effective immediately,” Apollo revealed in the filing.
As exclusively reported by The Post last week, Black’s unexpected exit on March 22 came just days after several directors on the private-equity giant’s board learned of accusations of sexual harassment against him by a woman he claimed was trying to shake him down over a “consensual affair.”
Black — who Apollo earlier this year revealed had paid millions to dead pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein following the latter’s 2008 convictions for procuring an underage girl for prostitution — cited his wife’s ailing health and his own health problems for the sudden change in plans.
Neither Black nor Apollo mentioned at the time that days leading up to the resignation at least four of Apollo’s 12 board members had become aware of a series of little-noticed but explosive tweets by Güzel Ganieva, a former model who claimed to have been “forced to sign an NDA in 2015” relating to allegations that Black “sexually harassed and abused ” her, according to sources close to the situation.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Kraft was among the directors who had learned of the tweets, the sources said.
In a statement to The Post, Black acknowledged that he knew Ganieva, but denied that he acted inappropriately toward her. He also denied that her allegations influenced his decision to step away from the company faster than planned. In January, Black had signaled he would stay on as chairman after stepping down as CEO on or by July 31.
The 79-year-old Kraft, meanwhile, became entangled in a sex scandal of his own in 2019 when Florida police said he had been caught on tape having sex with a prostitute at a seedy south Florida massage parlor.
Charges against Kraft were dropped in September after the recording of him entering a massage parlor was ruled inadmissible as evidence in the Florida case.
“Following Mr. Kraft’s resignation, the size of the Board shall decrease to twelve directors, two thirds of which continue to be independent directors,” Apollo said in the public filing on Friday.
When Kraft joined the Apollo board seven years ago, Black hailed him as “a seasoned executive and an exceptional leader,” saying that Apollo “will benefit greatly from his insights and expertise.”