Jeffrey Edward Epstein (January 20, 1953 – August 10, 2019) was an American financier and convicted sex offender.
Epstein began his career in finance at the investment bank Bear Stearns, before forming his own firm, J. Epstein & Co., until his conviction for sex crimes in 2008, for running an underage prostitution ring for well-connected financial, political, and cultural elites.
In 2005, the Palm Beach, Florida, police began investigating Epstein after a parent complained that he molested her 14-year-old daughter. Epstein eventually pleaded guilty and was convicted in a Florida state court in 2008 of soliciting a prostitute and of procuring an under-18 girl for prostitution. He served 13 months in custody with work release, as part of a plea deal, where federal officials had identified 36 girls as young as 14 years old who had been molested. Epstein had additionally faced allegations from numerous individuals of holding women as sex slaves, including individuals who were underage.
Epstein was arrested again on July 6, 2019, on federal charges for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. He died on August 10, 2019, reportedly after hanging himself in his Manhattan prison cell. Three weeks previously, Epstein had been found unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck and was placed on suicide watch, which lasted six days, and ended twelve days before he died. An autopsy was performed on August 11; the New York City medical examiner's office announced it needed more information before cause of death could be determined, though it is presumed to be suicide.
Epstein was born in 1953, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, to Jewish parents Pauline (née Stolofsky, 1918–2004) and Seymour G. Epstein (1916–1991). His parents were married in 1952, shortly before his birth. Pauline worked as a school aide and was a homemaker. Seymour Epstein worked for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation as a groundskeeper and gardener. Jeffrey Epstein was the older of two siblings. Epstein and his brother Mark grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Sea Gate, Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Epstein attended local public schools, first Public School 188 and then Mark Twain Junior High School nearby. In 1967, Epstein attended the National Music Camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He was a talented musician who learned to play the piano when he was five. He graduated in 1969 from Lafayette High School at age 16 having skipped two grades. Later that year, he attended classes at Cooper Union until he changed colleges in 1971. From September 1971, he attended the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, but left without receiving a degree in June 1974.
Epstein started working after the summer of 1974 as a physics and mathematics teacher at the Dalton School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where Donald Barr was the headmaster until June and may have hired him. Epstein taught at the exclusive private school from the fall of 1974 until he was dismissed in June 1976. While teaching at the school, Epstein became acquainted with Alan Greenberg, the chief executive officer of Bear Stearns, whose son and daughter were going to the school. Greenberg's daughter, Lynne Koeppel, pointed to a parent teacher conference where Epstein influenced another Dalton parent into advocating for him to Greenberg. Greenberg, impressed with Epstein's intelligence and drive for financial success, offered him a job at Bear Stearns.
Epstein joined Bear Stearns in 1976 as a low-level junior assistant to a floor trader. He swiftly moved up to become an options trader, working in the special products division, and then advised the bank's wealthiest clients, such as Seagram president Edgar Bronfman, on tax mitigation strategies. Jimmy Cayne, the bank's later chief executive officer, praised Epstein's skill with wealthy clients and complex products. In 1980, four years after joining Bear Stearns, Epstein became a limited partner. He was asked to leave Bear Stearns in 1981, for policy violations which remain unclear. Even though Epstein departed abruptly, he remained close to Cayne and Greenberg and was a client of Bear Stearns until it collapsed in 2008.
In August 1981, Epstein founded his own consulting firm, Intercontinental Assets Group Inc. (IAG), which assisted clients in recovering stolen money from fraudulent brokers and lawyers. Epstein described his work at this time as being a high-level bounty hunter. He told friends that he worked sometimes as a consultant for governments and the very wealthy to recover embezzled funds, while at other times he worked for clients who had embezzled funds. Ana Obregón was one such wealthy Spanish client, who Epstein helped in 1982 to recover her father's millions in lost investments, which had disappeared when Drysdale Government Securities collapsed because of fraud.
Epstein also stated to some people at the time that he was an intelligence agent. Whether this statement was truthful or in jest is not clear. During the 1980s, Epstein possessed an Austrian passport that had his photo but a false name. The passport showed his place of residence in Saudi Arabia. U.S. Florida District Attorney Alexander Acosta, who handled Epstein's criminal case in 2008, stated that he had been told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence", was "above his pay grade" and to "leave it alone".
During this period, one of Epstein's clients was the Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Khashoggi, who was the middleman in transferring American weapons from Israel to Iran, as part of the Iran–Contra affair in the 1980s. Khashoggi was one of several defense contractors that he knew. In the mid-1980s, Epstein traveled multiple times between the United States, Europe and the Middle East. While in London, Epstein met Steven Hoffenberg. They had been introduced through Douglas Leese, a defense contractor, and John Mitchell, the former U.S. Attorney General.
Tower Financial Corporation
Steven Hoffenberg hired Epstein in 1987, as a consultant for Tower Financial Corporation (unaffiliated with the company of the same name founded in 1998, and acquired by Old National Bancorp in 2014), a collection agency that bought debts people owed to hospitals, banks, and phone companies. Hoffenberg set Epstein up in offices in the Villard House and paid him US$25,000 per month for his consulting work.
Hoffenberg and Epstein then refashioned themselves as corporate raiders using Tower Financial as their raiding vessel. One of Epstein's first assignments for Hoffenberg was to implement what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid to take over Pan American World Airways in 1987. A similar unsuccessful bid in 1988 was made to take over Emery Air Freight Corp. During this period, Hoffenberg and Epstein worked closely together and traveled everywhere on Hoffenberg's private jet.
In 1993, Tower Financial Corporation imploded as one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in American history which lost its investors over US$450 million. In court documents, Hoffenberg claimed that Epstein was intimately involved in the scheme. Epstein left the company by 1989 before it collapsed and was never charged for being involved with the massive investor fraud committed. It is unknown if Epstein acquired any stolen funds from the Tower Ponzi scheme.
Financial management firm While Epstein was still consulting for Hoffenberg, he founded in 1988 his own financial management firm, J. Epstein & Company. The company was formed to manage the assets of clients with more than US$1 billion in net worth.
The only publicly known billionaire client of Epstein was Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of L Brands (formerly The Limited, Inc) and Victoria's Secret. In 1986, Epstein met Wexner through their mutual acquaintances, insurance executive Robert Meister and his wife, in Palm Beach, Florida. A year later, Epstein became Wexner's financial adviser and served as his right hand man. Within the year, Epstein had sorted out Wexner's entangled finances. In July 1991, Wexner granted Epstein full power of attorney over his affairs. The power of attorney allowed Epstein to hire people, sign checks, buy and sell properties, borrow money, and do anything else of legally binding nature on Wexner's behalf.
By 1995, Epstein was a director of the Wexner Foundation and Wexner Heritage Foundation. He was also the president of Wexner's Property, which developed the town of New Albany outside Columbus, Ohio where Wexner lived. Epstein made millions in fees by managing Wexner's financial affairs. Although never employed by L Brands, he corresponded frequently with the company executives. Epstein often attended Victoria's Secret fashion shows, and hosted the models at his New York City home, as well as helping aspiring models get work with the company.
In 1996, Epstein changed the name of his firm to the Financial Trust Company and, for tax advantages, based it on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. By relocating to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Epstein was able to reduce federal income taxes by 90 percent. The U.S. Virgin Islands acted as an offshore tax haven, while at the same time offering the advantages of being part of the United States banking system.
In 2003, Epstein bid to acquire New York magazine. Other bidders included advertising executive Donny Deutsch, investor Nelson Peltz, media mogul and New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, and film producer Harvey Weinstein. The ultimate buyer was Bruce Wasserstein, a longtime Wall Street investment banker, who paid US$55 million.
In 2004, Epstein and Zuckerman committed up to US$25 million to finance Radar, a celebrity and pop culture magazine founded by Maer Roshan. Epstein and Zuckerman were equal partners in the venture. Roshan, as its editor-in-chief, retained a small ownership stake. It folded after three issues.
Liquid Funding Ltd.
Epstein was the president of the company Liquid Funding Ltd. between 2000 and 2007. The company was an early pioneer in expanding the kind of debt that could be accepted on repurchase, or the repo market, which involves a lender giving money to a borrower in exchange for securities that the borrower then agrees to buy back at an agreed-upon later time and price. The innovation of Liquid Funding, and other early companies, was that instead of having stocks and bonds as the underlying securities, it had commercial mortgages and investment-grade residential mortgages bundled into complex securities as the underlying security.
Liquid Funding was initially 40 percent owned by Bear Stearns. Through the help of the credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service – the new bundled securities were able to be created for companies so that they got a gold-plated AAA rating. The implosion of such complex securities, because of their inaccurate ratings, led to the collapse of Bear Stearns in March 2008 and set in motion the Financial Crisis of 2007–2008 and the subsequent Great Recession. If Liquid Funding was left holding large amounts of such securities as collateral, it could have lost large amounts of money.
Investments Hedge funds
Epstein invested $80 million between 2002 and 2005, in the D.B. Zwirn Special Opportunities hedge fund. In November 2006, Epstein, while under federal investigation for sex crimes, attempted to redeem his investment after he was informed of accounting irregularities in the fund. By this time, his investment had grown to $140 million. Zwirn refused to redeem the investment. Zwirn worried that Epstein's redemption could cause a "run on the bank" at the hedge fund. It is unknown how much Epstein personally lost, when the fund was wound down in 2008.
In August 2006, Epstein, a month after the federal investigation of him began, invested $57 million in the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage hedge fund. This fund was highly leveraged in mortgage-backed collateralized debt obligations that is CDOs. On April 18, 2007, an investor in the fund, who had $57 million invested, discussed redeeming his investment. At this time, the fund had a leverage ratio of 17:1, which meant for every dollar invested there were seventeen dollars of borrowed funds; therefore, the redemption of this investment would have been equivalent to removing $1 billion from the thinly traded CDO market. The selling of CDO assets to meet the redemptions that month began a repricing process and general freeze in the CDO market. The repricing of the CDO assets caused the collapse of the fund three months later in July, and the eventual collapse of Bear Stearns in March 2008. It is likely Epstein lost most of this investment, but it is not known how much was his.
By the time that the Bear Stearns fund began to fail in May 2007, Epstein had begun to negotiate a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office concerning imminent charges for sex with minors. In August 2007, a month after the fund collapsed, the U.S. attorney in Miami, Alexander Acosta, entered into direct discussions about the plea agreement. Acosta brokered a lenient deal, according to him, because he had been ordered by higher government officials, who told him that Epstein was an individual of importance to the government. As part of the negotiations, according to the Miami Herald, Epstein provided "unspecified information" to the Florida federal prosecutors for a more lenient sentence and was supposedly an unnamed key witness for the New York federal prosecutors in their unsuccessful June 2008, criminal case against the two managers of the failed Bear Stearns hedge fund. Alan Dershowitz, one of Epstein's Florida attorneys on the case, told FOX Business "We would have been touting that if he had [cooperated]. The idea that Epstein helped in any prosecution is news to me."
In 2015, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Epstein invested in the startup Reporty Homeland Security (rebranded as Carbyne in 2018). The startup is connected with Israel's defense industry. It is headed by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who was also at one time the defense minister, and chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The CEO of the company is Amir Elihai who was a special forces officer, and Pinchas Bukhris, who is a director of the company, was at one time the defense ministry director general and commander of the IDF cyber unit 8200. Epstein and Barak, the head of Carbyne, were close, and Epstein often offered him lodging at one of his apartment units at 301 East 66th Street in Manhattan.
First criminal case Initial developments (2005–2006) At the time of his death, Epstein was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting trial for sex-trafficking.
In March 2005, a woman contacted Florida's Palm Beach Police Department and alleged that her 14-year-old stepdaughter had been taken to Epstein's mansion by an older girl. There she was allegedly paid $300 to strip and massage Epstein. She had allegedly undressed, but left the encounter wearing her underwear.
Police began a 13-month undercover investigation of Epstein, that included a search of his home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also became involved in the investigation. Subsequently, the police alleged that Epstein had paid several girls to perform sexual acts with him. Interviews with five alleged victims and 17 witnesses under oath, a high school transcript and other items found in Epstein's trash and home allegedly showed that some of the girls involved were under 18. The police search of Epstein's home found two hidden cameras and large numbers of photos of girls throughout the house, some of whom the police had interviewed in the course of their investigation.
The International Business Times reported that papers filed in a 2006 lawsuit alleged that Epstein installed concealed cameras in numerous places on his property to record sexual activity with underage girls by prominent people for criminal purposes, such as blackmail. Epstein allegedly "lent" girls to powerful people to ingratiate himself with them and also to gain possible blackmail information.
In 2015, evidence came to light that one of the powerful men at Epstein's mansion may have been Prince Andrew, Duke of York. A former employee told the police that Epstein would receive massages three times a day. Eventually the FBI compiled reports on "34 confirmed minors" eligible for restitution (increased to 40 in the NPA) whose allegations of molestation by Epstein included corroborating details. Julie Brown's 2018 expose in the Miami Herald identified about 80 and located about 60 victims. She quotes the then police chief, Michael Reiter, "This was 50-something 'shes' and one 'he'—and the 'shes' all basically told the same story."
In May 2006, Palm Beach police filed a probable cause affidavit saying that Epstein should be charged with four counts of unlawful sex with minors and one molestation count.
Epstein's high-powered team of defense lawyers included Roy Black, Gerald Lefcourt, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, and former Clinton special prosecutor Ken Starr.
After press reports that Epstein would be charged with one count of aggravated assault with no intent to commit a felony, Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter accused the Palm Beach County state prosecutor, Barry Krischer, of being too lenient and was instrumental in bringing in the FBI. Instead Krischer convened a Palm Beach County grand jury usually only done in capital cases. Presented evidence from only two victims, the grand jury returned a single charge of felony solicitation of prostitution, to which Epstein pleaded not guilty in August 2006.
Non-prosecution agreement (NPA) (2006–2008)
In July 2006, the FBI began its own investigation of Epstein, nicknamed "Operation Leap Year". It resulted in a 53-page indictment in June 2007 that was never presented to a grand jury. Alexander Acosta, then the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, agreed to a plea deal to grant immunity from all federal criminal charges to Epstein, along with four named co-conspirators and any unnamed "potential co-conspirators". According to the Miami Herald, the non-prosecution agreement "essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein's sex crimes". At the time, this halted the investigation and sealed the indictment. The Miami Herald said: "Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims."
Acosta later said he offered a lenient plea deal, because he was told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence", was "above his pay grade" and to "leave it alone". Epstein agreed to plead guilty to two felony prostitution charges, register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to three dozen victims identified by the FBI. The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported (somewhat inaccurately), "Despite this, the U.S. government eventually agreed to allow Epstein to plead guilty to just one count of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl under Florida state law. Epstein agreed not to contest civil claims brought by the 40 women identified by the FBI, but escaped a prosecution that could have seen him jailed for the rest of his life."
A Federal Judge later found that the prosecutors had violated the victims' rights in that they had concealed the agreement from the victims and instead urged them to have "patience".
Conviction and sentencing (2008–2011)
On June 30, 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge (one of two) of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. While most convicted sex offenders in Florida are sent to state prison, Epstein was instead housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Stockade and, according to the sheriff's Office, was after 3 1⁄2 months allowed to leave the jail on "work release" for up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. This contravened the sheriff's own policies requiring a maximum remaining sentence of 10 months and making sex offenders ineligible for the privilege. He was allowed to come and go outside of specified release hours.
Epstein's cell door was left unlocked, and he had access to the attorney room where a TV was installed for him, before he was moved to the stockade's previously unstaffed infirmary. He worked at the office of a foundation he had created shortly before reporting to jail; he dissolved it after he had served his time. The Sheriff's Office received $128,000 from Epstein's non-profit to pay for the costs of extra services being provided during his work release. His office was monitored by "permit deputies" whose overtime was paid by Epstein. They were required to wear suits, checked in "welcomed guests" at the "front desk". Later the Sheriff's Office said these guest logs were destroyed per the department's "records retention" rules (although inexplicably the Stockade visitor logs were not). He was allowed to use his own driver to drive him between jail and his office and other appointments.
Epstein served almost 13 months before being released for a year of probation on house arrest until August 2010. While on probation he was allowed numerous trips on his corporate jet to his residences in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was allowed long shopping trips and to walk around Palm Beach "for exercise".
After a contested hearing in January 2011, and an appeal, he stayed registered in New York State as a "level three" (high risk of repeat offense) sex offender, a lifelong designation. At that hearing the Manhattan District Attorney inexplicably argued unsuccessfully that the level should be reduced to a low risk "level one" and was chided by the judge. Despite opposition from Epstein's lawyer that he had a "main" home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the judge confirmed he personally must check in with the New York Police Department every 90 days. Though Epstein had been a level three registered sex offender in New York since 2010, the New York Police Department never enforced the 90-day regulation, though non-compliance is a felony.
The immunity agreement and his lenient treatment were the subject of ongoing public dispute. The Palm Beach police chief accused the state of giving him preferential treatment, and the Miami Herald said U.S. Attorney Acosta gave Epstein "the deal of a lifetime". Following Epstein's arrest in July 2019, on sex trafficking charges, Acosta resigned as Secretary of Labor effective July 19, 2019.
After the accusations became public, several persons and institutions returned donations that they had received from Epstein, including Eliot Spitzer, Bill Richardson, and the Palm Beach Police Department. Harvard University announced it would not return any money. Various charitable donations that Epstein had made to finance children's education were also questioned.
On June 18, 2010, Epstein's former house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, was sentenced to 18 months' incarceration after being convicted on an obstruction charge for failing to turn over to police, and subsequently trying to sell, a journal in which he had recorded Epstein's activities. FBI Special Agent, Christina Pryor, reviewed the material and agreed it was information "that would have been extremely useful in investigating and prosecuting the case, including names and contact information of material witnesses and additional victims."
Civil cases Jane Does v. Epstein (2008)
On February 6, 2008, an anonymous Virginia woman filed a $50 million civil lawsuit in federal court against Epstein, alleging that when she was a 16-year-old minor in 2004–2005, she was "recruited to give Epstein a massage". She claims she was taken to his mansion, where he exposed himself and had sexual intercourse with her, and paid her $200 immediately afterward. A similar $50 million suit was filed in March 2008, by a different woman, who was represented by the same lawyer. These and several similar lawsuits were dismissed. All other lawsuits have been settled by Epstein out of court. Epstein made many out-of-court settlements with alleged victims.
Victims' rights: Jane Does v. United States (2014)
A December 30, 2014 federal civil suit was filed in Florida by Jane Doe 1 (Courtney Wild) and Jane Doe 2 against the United States for violations of the Crime Victims' Rights Act by the U.S. Department of Justice's NPA with Epstein and his limited 2008 state plea. There was a later unsuccessful effort to add Virginia Roberts (Jane Doe 3) and another woman (Jane Doe 4) as plaintiffs to that case. The addition accused Alan Dershowitz of sexually abusing a minor, Jane Doe 3, provided by Epstein. (See Two Jane Does v. United States.) The allegations against Dershowitz were stricken by the judge and eliminated from the case because he said they were outside the intent of the suit to re-open the plea agreement. A document filed in court alleges that Epstein ran a "sexual abuse ring", and lent underage girls to "prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders".
This long-running lawsuit is pending in federal court, aimed at vacating the federal plea agreement on the grounds that it violated victims' rights. On April 7, 2015, Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the allegations made by alleged victim Virginia Roberts against Prince Andrew had no bearing on the lawsuit by alleged victims seeking to reopen Epstein's non-prosecution plea agreement with the federal government; the judge ordered that allegation to be struck from the record. Judge Marra made no ruling as to whether claims by Roberts are true or false. Though he did not allow Jane Does 3 and 4 to join the suit, Marra specifically said that Roberts may later give evidence when the case comes to court.
On February 21, 2019, in the case of the two Jane Does v. USA, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida Kenneth Marra said federal prosecutors violated the law by failing to notify victims before they allowed him to plead guilty to only the two Florida offenses. The judge left open what the possible remedy could be.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre v. Epstein (2015)
In January 2015, a 31-year-old American woman, Virginia Roberts (now Virginia Giuffre), alleged in a sworn affidavit that at the age of 17, she had been held as a sex slave by Epstein. She further alleged that he and the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell had trafficked her to several people, including Prince Andrew and retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz. Roberts also claimed that Epstein, Maxwell and others had physically and sexually abused her. Roberts alleged that the FBI may have been involved in a cover-up. She said she had served as Epstein's sex slave from 1999 to 2002, and had recruited other under-age girls. Prince Andrew, Epstein, and Dershowitz all denied having had sex with Roberts. Dershowitz took legal action over the allegations. A diary purported to belong to Roberts was published online. Epstein entered an out-of-court settlement with Roberts, as he had done in several other lawsuits. The BBCtelevision series Panorama planned an investigation of these claims. As of 2016, these accusations had not been tested in any court of law.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre v. Ghislaine Maxwell (2015)
As a result of Giuffre's allegations and Maxwell's comments about them, Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation in September 2015. After much legal confrontation, the case was settled under seal in May 2017. The Miami Herald, other media, and Alan Dershowitz filed to have the documents about the settlement unsealed. After the judge dismissed their request, the matter was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On March 11, 2019, in the appeal of the district judge's refusal to unseal the documents relating to the 2017 defamation settlement of Giuffre v. Maxwell, the 2nd Circuit Court gave parties one week to provide good cause as to why they should remain under seal, without which they would be unsealed on March 19, 2019. Later the Court ordered these documents to be unsealed (after having them redacted to protect innocent parties). In Giuffre's testimony, she claims that she was directed by Maxwell to give erotic massages and engage in sexual activities with Prince Andrew, Jean-Luc Brunel, Glenn Dubin, Marvin Minsky, Governor Bill Richardson, another unnamed prince, an unnamed foreign president, "a well known Prime Minister", and an unnamed hotel chain owner from France, among others that she could not name. As Giuffre testified, "my whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy. Their whole entire lives revolved around sex."
Jane Doe v. Epstein and Trump (2016)
A federal lawsuit filed in California in April 2016, against Epstein and Donald Trump by a California woman alleged that the two men sexually assaulted her at a series of parties at Epstein's Manhattan residence in 1994, when she was 13 years old. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge in May 2016 because it did not raise valid claims under federal law. The woman filed another federal suit in New York in June 2016, but it was withdrawn three months later, apparently without being served on the defendants. A third federal suit was filed in New York in September 2016. The two latter suits included affidavits by an anonymous witness who attested to the accusations in the suits, asserting Epstein employed her to procure underage girls for him, and an anonymous person who declared the plaintiff had told him/her about the assaults at the time they occurred. The plaintiff, who had filed anonymously as Jane Doe, was scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles press conference six days before the 2016 election, but abruptly canceled the event; her lawyer Lisa Bloom asserted that the woman had received threats. The suit was dropped on November 4, 2016. Trump attorney Alan Garten flatly denied the allegations, while Epstein declined to comment.
Sarah Ransome v. Epstein and Maxwell (2017)
In 2017, Sarah Ransome filed a suit against Epstein and Maxwell, alleging that Maxwell had hired her to give massages to Epstein and later threatened to physically harm her or destroy her career prospects if she did not comply with their sexual demands at his mansion in New York City and on his private Caribbean island, Little Saint James. The suit was settled in 2018 under undisclosed terms.
Bradley Edwards' defamation v. Epstein (2018)
A state civil lawsuit in Florida filed by attorney Bradley Edwards against Epstein was scheduled for trial in December 2018. The trial was expected to provide victims with their first opportunity to make their accusations in public. However, the case was settled on the first day of the trial, with Epstein apologizing to Edwards; other terms of the settlement were confidential.
Maria Farmer v. Epstein and Maxwell (2019)
On April 16, 2019, a new accuser, Maria Farmer, went public and filed a sworn affidavit in federal court in New York, alleging that she and her 15-year-old sister, Anne, had been sexually assaulted by Epstein and Maxwell in separate locations in 1996. According to the affidavit, Farmer had met Epstein and Maxwell at a New York art gallery reception in 1995. The following year, in the summer of 1996, they hired her to work on an art project in Leslie Wexner's Ohio mansion, where she was then sexually assaulted. Farmer reported the incident to the New York Police Department and the FBI.
Farmer's affidavit also stated that during the same summer, Epstein flew her then-15-year-old sister to his New Mexico property where he and Maxwell molested her on a massage table.
Jennifer Araoz v. Epstein (2019)
On July 22, 2019, while in jail awaiting trial, Jeffrey Epstein was served with a petition regarding a pending state civil lawsuit filed by a Jennifer Araoz who says Epstein raped her in his New York mansion when she was 15. Starting August 14, 2019, adult survivors of child sexual abuse will have one year to sue for offenses in New York State, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.
Second criminal case Trafficking charges
On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on sex trafficking charges.
According to witnesses and sources on the day of his arrest, about a dozen FBI agents forced open the door to his Manhattan townhouse, the Herbert N. Straus House, with search warrants. The search of his townhouse turned up evidence of sex trafficking and also found "hundreds – and perhaps thousands – of sexually suggestive photographs of fully – or partially – nude females". Some of the photos were confirmed as those of underage females. In a locked safe, compact discs were found with handwritten labels including the descriptions: "Young [Name] + [Name]", "Misc nudes 1", and "Girl pics nude". There were also found in the safe $70,000 in cash, 48 diamonds, and a fraudulent Austrian passport, which expired in 1987, and had Epstein's photo but another name. The passport had numerous entrance and exit stamps, including entrance stamps that showed the use of the passport to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. The passport showed his place of residence as Saudi Arabia. According to his attorneys, Epstein had been advised to acquire the passport because "as an affluent member of the Jewish faith", he was prone to kidnappings whilst traveling abroad.
On July 8, prosecutors with the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York charged him with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex. The grand jury indictment alleges that "dozens" of underage girls were brought into Epstein's mansions for sexual encounters. Judge Kenneth Marra was to decide whether the non-prosecution agreement that protected Epstein from the more serious charges should still stand.
Epstein's lawyers urged the court to allow Epstein to post bail, offering to post up to a $600 million bond (including $100 million from his brother, Mark) so he could leave jail and submit to house arrest in his New York mansion. Judge Richard M. Berman denied the request on July 18, saying that Epstein posed a danger to the public and a serious flight risk to avoid prosecution. On July 23, Epstein was found injured and semiconscious at 1:30 a.m. on the floor of his cell, with marks around his neck that were suspected to be from a suicide attempt or an assault. His cellmate, former New York City police officer Nicholas Tartaglione, who is charged with four counts of murder, was questioned about Epstein's condition. He denied knowledge of what happened. Epstein said he recollected nothing. According to NBC News, two sources said that Epstein might have tried to hang himself, a third said the injuries were not serious and could have been staged, while a fourth source said that an assault by his cellmate had not been ruled out.
Previous long-term girlfriends associated with Epstein include Eva Andersson-Dubin and publishing heiress Ghislaine Maxwell. Epstein was romantically linked with Andersson-Dubin in the 1980s and the two later remained friendly well after her marriage to Glenn Dubin. Epstein had met Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced media baron Robert Maxwell, by 1991. Maxwell was implicated by several of Epstein's accusers as procuring or recruiting underage girls in addition to once being Epstein's girlfriend.
In a 2009 deposition, several of Epstein's household employees testified that Maxwell had a central role in both his public and private life, referring to her as his "main girlfriend" who also handled the hiring, supervising, and firing of staff starting around 1992. In 1995, Epstein renamed one of his companies the Ghislaine Corporation in Palm Beach, Florida; the company was later dissolved in 1998. In the year 2000, Maxwell moved into a 7,000-square-foot townhouse, less than 10 blocks from Epstein's New York mansion. This townhome was purchased for $4.95 million by an anonymous limited liability company, with an address that matches the office of J. Epstein & Co. Representing the buyer was Darren Indyke, Epstein's longtime lawyer.
In a 2003 Vanity Fair exposé, Epstein simply refers to Maxwell as "my best friend".
Epstein was a longtime acquaintance of Prince Andrew and Tom Barrack, and has attended parties with many prominent people, including Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Donald Trump, Katie Couric, and Woody Allen. His contacts also included Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and British prime minister Tony Blair. Both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump claimed that they never visited Epstein's island. Epstein owned a private Boeing 727 jet, nicknamed "Lolita Express" by the tabloid press, and traveled in it frequently, logging "600 flying hours a year (...) usually with guests on board". Epstein's brother told The Washington Post that Trump flew "numerous times" on Epstein's airplane, although he was only present on one of the flights. Trump also flew Epstein on his own airplane at least once, according to Michael Corcoran.
In September 2002, Epstein flew Clinton, Kevin Spacey, and Chris Tucker to Africa in his private jet. Flight records obtained in 2016 show Clinton flew on Epstein's plane 26 times to at least a dozen international locations. Flight logs did not list any Secret Service detail for at least five flights, all in Asia, and Secret Service stated that there is no evidence of the former President making a trip to his private island.
In 2019, a Clinton spokesperson stated that, in 2002 and 2003, Clinton took four trips on Epstein's airplane, making stops on three continents, all with his staff and Secret Service detail. At the time of Epstein's 2019 arrest, Clinton's spokeswoman Angel Ureña stated that Clinton had "not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein's ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida. In documents unsealed the day before Epstein's death, the deposition of alleged sex slave Virginia Giuffre includes her allegations that when she was 17, Clinton visited Little Saint James island, that underage girls were present, and that Epstein threw a dinner party for the former President. She stated Secret Service was present, but not at all times; the Secret Service told Fox News it had no record of agents being on the island. Giuffre claims Maxwell told her she flew Clinton to the island on her helicopter, although she conceded, "I heard a lot of things from Ghislaine that sounded too true – too outrageous to be true, but you never knew what to believe."
In a profile of Epstein in New York magazine in 2002, former Democratic Senate leader George J. Mitchell said of Epstein, "I would certainly call him a friend and a supporter." In the same article, Donald Trump remarked, "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
In July 2019, Trump said "I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him," stating four times he had not been "a fan" of Epstein and that he had not spoken to him in about fifteen years. Video surfaced that month showing the two men partying together at Mar-a-Lago in 1992. By 2007 Epstein was reported to have been banned from Trump's club. The ban allegation was included in court documents filed by attorney Bradley Edwards, although Edwards later said it was a rumor he tried but failed to confirm. Bill Clinton lauded Epstein as "a committed philanthropist" with "insights and generosity". At the time Epstein was on the board of Rockefeller University, a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a major donor to Harvard University.
Epstein visited the White House on four known occasions in the 1990s. In 1993, during Bill Clinton's presidency he went to a donor event at the White House with his companion Ghislaine Maxwell. Around the same time, he also met with President Clinton's aide Mark Middleton on at least three occasions at the White House. In 1995, financier Lynn Forester discussed "Jeffrey Epstein and currency stabilization" with Clinton. Epstein, according to his own accounts, was heavily involved in the foreign exchange market and traded large amounts of currency in the unregulated forex market. In 1995, Epstein also attended a small political fundraiser dinner for Bill Clinton which included 14 other people such as Ron Perelman, Don Johnson, Jimmy Buffett, and dinner organizer Paul Prosperi.
From the 1990s to mid-2000s, Epstein often socialized with the future President Donald Trump. Journalist Michael Wolff wrote that Trump, Epstein, and Tom Barrack were at the time like a "set of nightlife musketeers" on the social scene. Epstein and Trump socialized both in New York City and Palm Beach, where they both had houses. A porter who worked next door to Epstein's house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2000 stated to The Mail on Sunday in reference to people coming and going from Epstein's house that "I often see Donald Trump and there are loads of models coming and going, mostly at night. It's amazing he's got so many ladies, as Mr Epstein, and always has a new one on his arm, it seems."
In April 2003, New York magazine reported Epstein hosted a dinner party in his Manhattan residence to honor Bill Clinton, who did not attend, although Trump did attend. One person according to The Washington Post, who knew Epstein and Trump during this time noted that "they were tight" and "they were each other's wingmen." In November 2004, Epstein and Trump's friendship ran into trouble when they became embroiled in a bidding war for a $40 million mansion, Maison de L'Amitie, which was being auctioned in Palm Beach. Trump won the auction for $41 million, and successfully sold the property four years later for $95 million to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. That month was the last time Epstein and Trump were recorded to have interacted.
In 2008, when Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting and procuring prostitution, his lawyers stated he was a billionaire with a net worth of over one billion dollars. A number of sources, however, have questioned the extent of Epstein's wealth and his status as a billionaire. According to an article in The New York Times, his "fortune may be more illusion than fact". Epstein lost "large sums of money" in the 2008 financial crisis, and "friends and patrons"—including retail billionaire Leslie H. Wexner, "deserted him" following his pleading guilty to prostitution charges in 2008. New York magazine claimed that "there's scant proof" of Epstein's "financial bona fides", and Forbes also ran an article entitled "Why sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is not a billionaire".
Spencer Kuvin, an attorney for three of Epstein's alleged victims in the case where Epstein pleaded guilty to sexual activity with minors, stated that "he and his team 'pursued every possible angle' to find out Epstein's net worth but found that much of his wealth is offshore." An investigation by the Miami Herald of the Swiss Leaks documents indicated that Epstein had multiple financial accounts with millions of dollars in offshore tax havens. In the Paradise Papers, records showed that Epstein in February 1997, became a client of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm which specialized in the creation of offshore companiesand investment vehicles for the ultra-wealthy. A client profile of Epstein described his job cryptically as the "Manager of Fortune".
Federal prosecutors on July 12, 2019, stated in court documents that, based on records from one financial institution, that Jeffrey Epstein was "extravagantly wealthy" and had assets worth at least $500 million and earned more than $10 million a year. The extent of his wealth, however, was not known, since he had not filled out a financial affidavit for his bail application. According to Bloomberg, "Today, so little is known about Epstein's current business or clients that the only things that can be valued with any certainty are his properties." The Miami Herald in their investigation of the Paradise Papers and Swiss Leaks documents concluded that Epstein's wealth is likely spread secretly across the globe.
Epstein owned the Herbert N. Straus House on 9 East 71st Street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. It was originally purchased for $13.2 million in 1989 by Epstein's mentor, Les Wexner, who renovated it completely. Epstein moved into the mansion in 1995 after Wexner married and moved with his wife to Columbus, Ohio, to raise their family. He took full possession of mansion in 1998, when he paid Wexner $20 million for it. The mansion is reputedly the largest private residence in Manhattan at 21,000 sq ft (2,000 m2). Hidden under a flight of stairs, there is a lead-lined bathroom fitted with its own Closed-circuit television screens and a telephone, both concealed in a cabinet under the sink. It also has its own heated sidewalk to melt away the snow. The entrance hall is lined with rows of individually framed prosthetic eyeballs which were made for injured English soldiers.
The financier's other properties include a residence in Palm Beach, Florida, purchased in 1990; an apartment near the Arc de Triomphe at 22 Avenue Foch in Paris; a 7,500-acre (30 km2) ranch named Zorro Ranch near Stanley, New Mexico, purchased in 1993; a private island near Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands called Little Saint James, which includes a mansion and guest houses, purchased in 1998; and the neighboring island of Great Saint James purchased in 2016. Epstein was building a compound on the latter including an amphitheater and "underwater office & pool" but ran into problems when a stop-work order was issued in late 2018; work continued despite the order.
Epstein, previous to his current Manhattan home, lived in a spacious townhouse, which was a former Iranian government building that had been taken over by the State Department during the Iranian revolution, at 34 East 69th Street for a rate of $15,000 a month from 1992 to 1995. He also previously owned a mansion outside Columbus, Ohio near Wexner's home from 1992 to 1998 which he purchased from his mentor. Before the Herbert Straus house was purchased, Wexner purchased in 1988 the adjacent townhouse at 11 East 71st Street. Like in the case of the 9 East 71st Street house, Epstein was on the deed of the 11 East 71st Street house as the trustee. The townhouse was sold in 1996 to the Comet trust which holds part of the assets of the de Gunzburg/Bronfman family.
Epstein rented multiple apartment units for his employees, models, and guests since the 1990s at 301 East 66th Street. The majority of the apartment complex at this address is owned by Ossa properties, which is owned by Jeffrey Epstein's brother, Mark, who purchased the complex in the early 1990s from Wexner. Over the years Epstein has housed different friends at 11 East 71st Street including his ex-girlfriend, Eva Andersson, who is now married to his hedge-fund friend Glenn Dubin, MC2 Models founder Jean-Luc Brunel, and on occasions former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He has housed some of his workers including his pilot, housekeeper, and office work staff in the apartment complex. Epstein has also housed underage girls, who Brunel scouted from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union for the MC2 modeling agency, at the location.
From 1989 until 2003, Epstein donated more than $139,000 to Democratic federal candidates and committees and over $18,000 to Republican candidates and groups.
Epstein contributed $50,000 to Democrat Bill Richardson's successful campaign for New Mexico Governor in 2002 and again for his successful run for reelection in 2006. Also that year, he contributed $15,000 to Democrat Gary King's successful campaign for New Mexico Attorney General. He later contributed $35,000 to King's 2014 unsuccessful campaign for Governor. Other contributions in New Mexico included Epstein $10,000 toward Jim Bacca's campaign to become head of the land commission and $2,000 toward Santa Fe County Sheriff Jim Solano's bid for reelection. In 2010 Epstein received a notice from New Mexico Department of Public Safety which said, "You are not required to register [as a sex offender] with the state of New Mexico."
In 1991, Epstein was one of four donors who pledged to raise US$2 million for a Hillelstudent building Rosovsky Hall at Harvard University.
In 2000, Epstein established the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which funds science research and education. Prior to 2003, the foundation funded Martin Nowak's research at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In May 2003, Epstein pledged a series of donations totaling US$30 million to create a mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics program at Harvard which was run by Martin Nowak. According to The Boston Globe, the actual amount received from Epstein was US$6.5 million. In 2019, Forbes deleted a 2013 article that called Epstein "one of the largest backers of cutting edge science" after The New York Timesrevealed its author, Drew Hendricks, had been paid $600 to submit it falsely as his own.
According to attorney Gerald B. Lefcourt, Epstein was "part of the original group that conceived of the Clinton Global Initiative". Epstein co-organized a science event with illusionist and skeptic Al Seckel called the Mindshift Conference. The conference took place in 2010 on Epstein's private island Little Saint James. In attendance were scientists Murray Gell-Mann, Leonard Mlodinow, and Gerald Sussman.
The true extent of Epstein's donations is unknown. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation fails to disclose information which other charities routinely disclose. Concerns have been raised over this lack of transparency. In 2015, the Attorney General of the state of New York was reported to be trying to gain information but was refused since the charities were based outside of the state and did not solicit in New York State. Epstein, besides making donations through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, has also made a number of charitable donations through his three private charities: Epstein Interest, the COUQ Foundation, and Gratitude American Ltd. According to federal tax filings, Epstein donated $30 million between 1998 and 2018, through these three charities.
Interest in eugenics and transhumanism
According to various sources, Epstein, beginning in the early 2000s, showed a strong interest in improving the human race through genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, including using his own sperm. He addressed the scientific community at various events and occasions and communicated his fascination with eugenics. It was reported in August 2019 that Epstein had planned to "seed the human race with his DNA" by impregnating up to 20 women at a time using his New Mexico compound as a "baby ranch", where mothers would give birth to his offspring. He was an advocate of cryonics and his own idiosyncratic version of transhumanism, and had said that he intended to have his penis and head frozen.
Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City at 6:30 a.m. EDT on August 10, 2019. He was 66 years old. The Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Attorney General William Barr called the death an apparent suicide, although no final determination had been made. Epstein's cause of death is being investigated by the Justice Department. An autopsy was performed August 11, but no cause of death has been announced because the New York City medical examiner's office is awaiting further information.
On July 23, three weeks prior, Epstein was found unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck. After that incident, he was placed on suicide watch. Six days later, Epstein was taken off suicide watch and placed in a special housing unit with another inmate. The jail had informed the Justice Department that Epstein would have a cellmate and that a guard would look into the cell every 30 minutes. These procedures were not followed on the night of his death. The jail had allowed him for two weeks after his suicide watch to be housed alone. In violation of the jail’s normal procedure, Epstein was not being checked every 30 minutes on the night he died.
Epstein's removal from suicide watch at such a time, and in such a high-security federal facility, left some prison experts "stunned and angry"; MCC is nicknamed the "Guantanamo of New York". U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered an investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General in addition to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, saying he was "appalled" by Epstein's death in federal custody.
The circumstances surrounding the death quickly spawned conspiracy theories about Epstein's death, with President Donald Trump retweeting one suggesting that former President Bill Clinton was involved in causing Epstein's death. According to a report in The Washington Post, those close to Epstein fear and suspect he was murdered.
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