Bjørn Gulden, chief executive of Adidas, has described the multiple antisemitic comments made by Kanye West last year as "very unfortunate," suggesting he does not believe the rapper and Yeezy CEO meant what he said.
Gulden was speaking on the Norwegian podcast In Good Company where, as reported by The Guardian, he was asked about Ye's offensive remarks and the end of the business relationship between Adidas and his Yeezy brand. Gulden, who became chief executive at Adidas in early 2023, was working at Puma when Adidas ended their seven year relationship with Yeezy last year.
"I think Kanye West is one of the most creative people in the world,” Gulden said. “Both in music and what I call street culture. So he’s extremely creative and has together with Adi created a Yeezy line that was very successful. And then, as creative people, he did some statements, which wasn’t that good. And that caused Adi to break the contract and withdraw the product. Very unfortunate, because I don’t think he meant what he said and I don’t think he’s a bad person — it just came across that way.
"That meant we lost that business. One of the most successful collabs in history — very sad. But again, when you work with third parties, that could happen. It’s part of the game. That can happen with an athlete, it can happen with an entertainer. It’s part of the business.”
Yeezy played a significant part in Adidas's revenue, accounting for an estimated 10% of their annual sales. After the two parties split, Adidas was left with stock worth $1.3 billion that eventually went on sale in May. A "significant" percentage of the profits will be donated to various charitable organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change. However, West will still earn his share of profits.
The FADER has contacted Adidas for comment on Gulden's interview.