Peter Nygård is a Finnish-Canadian clothing manufacturer and fashion executive who has just been accused of raping 10 women. On Thursday, February 13, 10 women filed a civil class-action lawsuit accusing Nygård of sexually assaulting them at his Bahamas mansion in what is referred to as a “sex trafficking ring,” as reported by CBC News.
Peter Nygård is one of Canada’s wealthiest businessmen, with his clothing company operating over 170 stores throughout North America, but less is known about his family. In August 2020, CBC News reported on a new lawsuit, filed by two of Nygård’s sons, alleging that their father hired a “known sex worker” to rape them when they were teenagers. Nygård’s lawyer has denied the claims.
Here’s what you need to know about Peter Nygård’s family:
1. He Was Born in Finland to Finnish Bakers Who Immigrated to Canada
According to Nygård’s website, his mother passed away in 2010. The obituary posted on the site indicates that his mother is Hilkka Nygård, born in 1922 in Finland on a remote island. On June 24, 1940, Hilkka married Eeli Nygård, a baker from Helsinki.
Peter was born on July 24, 1941, and his sister Liisa was born October 31, 1942. In 1952, the Nygård family immigrated from Finland to Canada, settling first in Deloraine, Manitoba in the Canadian prairies before moving permanently to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Peter’s parents opened Nygård Bakery in Winnipeg and it became a successful business.
According to this tribute, Peter’s mother Hilkka was very interested in business and was the acting director of many of Peter’s businesses, and was “highly involved” in the day-to-day running of his operations in the Bahamas.
2. He Has 7 Children From 4 Different Women
Peter Nygård has seven children from four different women. The three eldest are Bianca, Åliå and Kai, from his longtime relationship with Patricia Bickle. Bianca lives with her husband and daughter in the Bahamas as she is involved in Peter’s business. Åliå lives in Winnipeg, but also works for the company, while Kai lives in Seattle where he studies business.
Peter also has a son Mika with Kaarina Pakka, a Finnish-Canadian. A year younger than Mika is Jessar, who lives in California. His daughter Scarlet lives in Toronto with her mother, a Polish-born woman. Lastly there is his son Xar, born to Freya, a former model. Peter has said that he is constantly in contact with all his children and that all visit him frequently in the Bahamas.
In August 2020, two of his sons filed a lawsuit against their father, saying that he hired his girlfriend, a “known sex worker,” to rape them when they were teens, CBC News reported. According to the outlet’s reporting on the lawsuit, the two sons, who were not identified, were raped by the same woman 14 years apart. It states that she had been instructed by Nygård to “make a man” out of his son.
The lawsuit alleges that the first assault occurred in the Bahamas in 2004 when his son was 15 years old. The victim told CBC News, “It’s one of those things that when you look back at it I see the pattern of it — that it happened with my younger brother — that’s when it struck me. That’s pretty low. So after the fact and after more information has come out it’s affected me a little bit more.” The second assault is said to have occurred in 2018 and that victim was 14 years old.
Nygård denied the allegations through his attorney, who told the outlet, “My client is shocked by these allegations, which he says are completely false. He categorically denies them. You’ll note that the allegations are really nothing more than generalities. Details are sadly lacking. You might ask why that is. And it’s clear from my client because he says it never happened.”
3. He Was Married Once to a Model in the 1970s for a Brief Time
According to a Forbes report on Nygård, the fashion executive was “married briefly in the 1970s to a model,” but Nygård has never publicly stated who his ex-wife is and whether it is one of the women he has children with. He has said only that they were married around the year 1970, and that his wife left him after three years, “because I worked too hard,” he said in 2005.
In an interview with Hello! Canada posted to the Nygård website, Nygård was asked if he would ever marry again. He answered, “I don’t think marriage is a necessary part of my life. I’ve certainly lost confidence in what it really means. At one time, marriage meant you had found your mate for life. It doesn’t mean that anymore.” He continued, saying he had become “disillusioned about what marriage has turned out to be. People aren’t necessarily happier when they get married. I think you can be a very good partner to someone if you have to earn that partnership everyday, rather than be legally bound to do it.”
4. His Sister, Who Was Herself a Successful Businessperson, Passed Away on January 20, 2020
An obituary online announced the death of Peter’s sister Liisa earlier this year. It states that on January 20, 2020, Pirjo-Liisa “Liisa” Nygård Johnson, daughter of Eeli and Hilkka, died peacefully “after a courageous battle with breast cancer.” She was 77 years old. As a child, Liisa was very active in school sports and other activities and “was integral in setting up the first student council and yearbook at Norberry Junior High, where she served as Vice-President of the student body in 1959,” her obituary reports.
She pursued many career avenues after graduating from Glenlawn Collegiate in Winnipeg, Canada, first working for an insurance company before attending the University of North Dakota and obtaining her bachelor’s in teaching with a major in speech correction. She worked as a speech therapist for five years.
According to this obituary, Liisa also ran a successful fashion business with her then-husband Russell Nichol, starting a company called Pirjo-Liisa Fashions in 1975. The company was so successful that Liisa won the Woman of the Year in Business in Manitoba in 1981. The couple had four children together before separating in the mid-1980s. Liisa married her second husband, Dennis Johnson, in 1994 and the two were together until Johnson’s death in 2013.
5. In 2002, He Was Ordered to Pay a Record Child Support in Canada
The National Post reported in 2002 that Peter Nygård was ordered by a Toronto judge to pay record child support to Kaarina Pakka, mother of their 15-year-old son Mika. Nygård was ordered to pay $15,091 a month on an “interim basis” until they went to trial. The Post reported that Ms. Pakka’s lawyer, Harold Niman, confirmed that this was “the largest child support order for one child in Canada.”
The Globe and Mail reported in 2004 that the matter was eventually settled out of court, signing a confidentiality agreement which prevents the details of the agreement to be made public. The Globe and Mail said that Ms. Pakka was requesting a large child support payment so her son Mika could “enjoy some of what Mr. Nygård’s other six children received,” including a hot tub, a cottage, and a nice car.