As manager of the cosmetics company’s worldwide operations, she was meticulous in cultivating relationships and helped open new markets for the brand, particularly in the Soviet Union. Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner, a merchant and a diplomat for Estée Lauder, died on Feb. 26 in Manhattan. She pushed the brand’s high-end lipsticks and perfumes among women in the Soviet Union and China during the rise of globalization and free trade in the 1980s and 1990s. She was 92 years old at the time.
According to nytimes.com, Nicole Vartanian, her niece, verified her death. Mrs. Wagner served as president of Estée Lauder’s worldwide operations from 1986 to 1998, during which time the division grew from a small and largely unprofitable section of the New York-based corporation to one that accounted for almost half of its multibillion-dollar revenue.
In a phone interview, Leonard Lauder, the company’s chief executive at the time, claimed, “We were partners in the founding of Estée Lauder International.” “We worked for hand in hand and had a complete understanding of each other.”
With the Soviet Union’s economy partially opening under its leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Estée Lauder opened its first Russian location a week after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, two months ahead of McDonald’s. The Moscow branch was conveniently located near the Kremlin and Red Square.