Russell Simmons has had many beautiful women on his arm throughout the years, but he only married one: Kimora Lee. Lee and Simmons met when she was a high fashion runway model and he was at the top of his game as a music executive. They married within years. But many claim Simmons began dating Lee when she was underage. There’s a nearly 30-year age difference between the two. Simmons denies such but a famed journalist disagrees.
Touré says Russell Simmons began dating Kimora Lee while she was underage
Over the years, there have been conflicting reports about whether or not Simmons began a relationship with Lee when Lee was underage. Lee has remained mum about it, with Simmons defending himself a few times. But journalist Touré says Lee was just a teenager when he met her when she was dating Simmons.
“I was at a lunch in the Hamptons with maybe about 8-9 people, it was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and Kimora was there, she barely spoke, if at all, she was 16 and she was around a group of 20 and 30-somethings,” he told Vlad TV in 2018.
Related: Why Russell Simmons Is Suing His Ex-Wife, Kimora Lee Simmons
Simmons has insisted he did not start dating Lee until she became of legal age. But Toure says that’s not true. “There’s some bickering about whether she was 16 or 17,” he adds. “I remember being introduced to her and being told that she was 16. Even if she was 17, what are we talking about here? You [Russell] were in your 30s…even if we concede 17, what’s really the difference?”
Still, Simmons says otherwise. Per a report from The Jasmine Brand, Simmons defended dating Lee, saying she was legal. “She turned 18 right after I met her February fashion week Tyra banks (our bridesmaid) Cindy Crawford Naomi were all backstage at the Mary McFadden show they said I was a modelizer and that I wasn’t gonna stick around… I think that may have inspired her,” he wrote in a now-deleted comment to a fan who said Lee was underage.
Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee were married for nearly a decade
Simmons and Lee are credited for showcasing fashion, fame, and multiculturalism during their time together. Their marriage merged hip hop and high fashion. Simmons was successful as a record label executive and had his own fashion brand before Simmons. But together, his empire expanded.
Related: Kimora Lee Simmons Calls Russell Simmons an ‘Abuser’ in Legal Battle Amid Russell’s Sexual Assault Allegations
Simmons concedes that he began dating Simmons before her 18th birthday. Simmons was 35-years-old at the time and claims that Lee was determined to tame his bachelor ways. Lee and Simmons married in a lavish ceremony with models Kim Porter and Tyra Banks as Lee’s bridesmaids. The former couple share two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.
Lee filed for divorce after eight years of marriage in 2008. She cites Simmons’ infidelity as the reason for their split. Still, the two remained close friends and co-parents, with Simmons as the godfather to Lee’s two sons from other relationships. Simmons and Lee also remained close business partners on Phat Farm and Baby Phat, urban fashion lines.
The two former close friends are now in a legal battle
The friendship between Lee and Simmons appears to be over, or at minimum estranged. In May 2021, reports surfaced that Simmons filed a lawsuit against Lee and her current husband, Tim Leissner. He accuses the couple of transferring some of his shares from the Celsius energy drink company to help pay off Leissner’s debts.
Lee denies Simmons’ claims against her and Leissner. In her response, she’s implying that Simmons is guilty of the multiple sexual harassment and assault claims against him. There have been multiple stories published by The New York Times featuring Simmons’ accusers. An HBO Max documentary, On the Record, also details the stories of several women who say Simmons raped them.
Lee says she’s also been a victim of Simmons’ abuse. “Russell’s continued aggressive behavior not only blatantly distorts the facts, but is simply a desperate PR ploy ignoring the years of mental and emotional anguish, gaslighting, and ongoing harassment he has inflicted on Kimora,” her statement reads in part.
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