- Registered sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein was known for jet-setting with the likes of Bill Gates, President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew, the third child of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth.
- Les Wexner, the CEO of L Brands and Epstein’s only confirmed client, stepped down after near six decades as the company’s chief executive.
- Barclays CEO Jes Staley is being investigated by authorities in the UK because of his relationship with convicted sex offender Epstein, the bank said in a statement while announcing its fourth-quarter earnings on February 13.
- Prosecutors in a January lawsuit against Epstein’s estate allege that the former wealth manager ran a “trafficking pyramid scheme” from his private island in the US Virgin Islands until 2018.
- Epstein was found dead of a suicide in a Manhattan jail on August 10 as he awaited trial on charges of sex trafficking minors.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Former L Brands CEO Les Wexner may have been Jeffrey Epstein’s only confirmed client, but he was far from the ultrawealthy sex offender’s only high powered friend.
Epstein ran a years-long “trafficking pyramid scheme” from the US Virgin Islands, prosecutors alleged in a lawsuit against the former wealth manager’s estate in January. Meanwhile, the convicted sex offender maintained a vast social and professional network both on and off the Islands, which even included the wife of the US Virgin Islands’ former governor. The former hedge-fund manager kept his client list under wraps, but he often bragged of his elite social circle that included presidents and Hollywood stars.
“I invest in people – be it politics or science,” Epstein was known to say, according to New York Magazine. “It’s what I do.”
Epstein, 66, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail on August 10, as he awaited trial on charges of sex trafficking of minors. He had been in police custody since he was arrested on July 6, shortly after exiting his private jet in New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport. He pleaded not guilty on July 8 and was being held without bail in New York City. On July 25, Epstein was placed on suicide watch after a reported suicide attempt that had led to his hospitalization.
In 2007, Epstein pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida.
Here’s what we know about the famous people who crossed paths with Epstein.
President Donald Trump once considered Epstein a friend.
The future president claimed in 2002 that he had a long friendship with Epstein. “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Trump said, according to New York Magazine. “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.”
According to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Trump now believes the crimes Epstein was charged with are “completely unconscionable and obviously criminal.” She also labeled them “disgusting,” according to a July report from the Associated Press.
“The president told me this morning he hasn’t talked to Epstein, he doesn’t think he’s talked to him or seen him in 10 or 15 years,” Conway added.
Former President Bill Clinton traveled with Epstein in 2002 and 2003.
A statement released in July by Clinton spokesperson Angel Ureña said the former president traveled to Europe, Asia, and twice to Africa on Epstein’s private jet. Clinton’s staff and Secret Service agents also went on these trips, which were to further the work of the Clinton Foundation, according to the statement.
At the time, Clinton told New York Magazine through a spokesperson that Epstein was “both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science.”
Ureña also said that Clinton and Epstein haven’t spoken in “well over a decade” and that Clinton “knows nothing about the terrible crimes” Epstein was charged with.
Actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Chris Tucker also took trips with Epstein.
Epstein, Clinton, Spacey, and Tucker spent a week in 2002 touring AIDS project sites in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and Mozambique for the Clinton Foundation, according to a New York Magazine report.
Spacey was also charged with sexual assault, but in December, The New York Times reported that the case had been dropped by the plaintiff’s estate. The plaintiff, a 62-year-old massage therapist, had died in September.
Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is Epstein’s ex-girlfriend — and alleged madam.
Maxwell is a British socialite and the daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
She started dating Epstein shortly after moving to New York in 1991, Business Insider previously reported. After they broke up, court documents allege that Maxwell started recruiting underage girls for him to have sex with.
The FBI is investigating Maxwell’s relationship with Epstein, Reuters reported in December, as the British heiress is reportedly hiding out with armed guards in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Prince Andrew and Epstein were close friends, the Guardian reported in 2015.
Maxwell introduced Epstein and the Duke of York in the 1990s, the Guardian reported, and the two became close friends.
The Duke is the son of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth. He has also been criticized for frequently taking flights on the taxpayer’s dime while serving as the country’s special representative for international trade. This earned him the nickname “Airmiles Andy,” according to the Washington Post.
Court documents reviewed by the Guardian allege that Epstein instructed Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a 15-year-old employee at Trump’s Mar-a-Largo resort, to have sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions. Buckingham Palace said in 2015 that the allegations against Prince Andrew were “false and without any foundation,” according to the Guardian.
According to a July 22 article from NY Magazine’s Intelligencer, a number of royals and royal connections were among Epstein’s contacts. That includes Prince Andrew’s then-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; and Charles Althorp, Princess Diana’s brother. According to Intelligencer, all three were named in Epstein’s black book; Ferguson and Prince Andrew were also named in his private jet log.
In a interview with the BBC in November, Prince Andrew said his relationship with Epstein brought him “opportunities,” and that his slowness in ditching Epstein as a friend was because of his tendency to be “too honorable.” The interview was widely criticized over Prince Andrew’s lack of sympathy with Epstein’s victims and his defense of his friendship with the convicted sex offender, Business Insider reported.
Prince Andrew resigned from public royal duties in November, Business Insider reported.
Outgoing L Brands CEO Les Wexner is Epstein’s only confirmed client.
Epstein became a trusted confidant of Wexner’s while Epstein managed the CEO’s fortune, according to Vanity Fair. Wexner has a net worth of $6.2 billion, Bloomberg reported. The magazine reported that Wexner allowed Epstein to take an active role in L Brands, which owns Bath & Body Works, Express, and Victoria’s Secret.
In 1989, Wexner used a trust to buy an Upper East Side townhouse that is believed to be the largest private residence in Manhattan for $13.2 million, Vanity Fair reported. Epstein moved in after Wexner and his wife, Abigail Koppel, moved to Ohio in 1996. Wexner’s trust transferred ownership of the house to Epstein in 2011 for $0, Bloomberg reported.
Wexner later fired Epstein as his money manager. “Mr. Wexner severed ties with Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago,” an L Brands spokesperson told Forbes in July.
In February, L Brands announced that Wexner would step down after nearly six decades as the company’s CEO. L Brands also announced that it would sell the majority stake in Victoria’s Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners and spin-off Bath & Body Works into a separate company. The company has been marred in controversy following reports of the mistreatment of models and plummeting sales.
Former Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta worked with Epstein’s legal team to arrange a plea deal after Epstein was charged with solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida in 2007.
An investigation by the Miami Herald revealed that Acosta, then a US attorney, had enough evidence against Epstein to request a life sentence. Instead, he reportedly met with one of Epstein’s lawyers, who happened to be a former colleague of Acosta’s.
In the resulting plea deal, Epstein served 13 months in a private wing of a county prison, which he was allowed to leave six days a week to work in his office.
The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019
Acosta resigned on July 12, 2019.
Film publicist Peggy Siegal planned a star-studded dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at Epstein’s New York mansion in 2010.
Siegal, known for hosting events to promote films including “The Big Short,” “Argo,” and “The Revenant” to Oscar voters, invited Epstein to screenings after he was released from prison in 2010, according to The New York Times.
“I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people,” Siegal told The New York Times. “And I think that’s what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York.”
Siegal also planned a dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at his Upper East Side home. The event was attended by Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Chelsea Handler. “The invitation was positioned as, ‘Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?'” Siegal said. Many of the guests didn’t know who the host was or about his criminal history, The New York Times reported.
A spokesperson for Siegal told Business Insider that Siegal’s relationship with Epstein was social, not professional. Siegal told The New York Times that she ended her relationship with Epstein at the height of the #MeToo era in 2017.
Netflix, FX and Annapurna Pictures severed their ties with Siegal in July 2019 after her connection to Epstein became public, Variety reported.
Epstein also told the Times that he spoke often with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Epstein said that MBS had visited Epstein’s Manhattan mansion many times and had a framed photo of the crown prince hanging on the wall, according to New York Times reporter James B. Stewart.
Representatives of MBS did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
According to the New York Times, Epstein claimed to have advised Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
In an interview published in the New York Times on August 12, Epstein claimed that Elon Musk had sought him out to help manage the trouble he had gotten into with the SEC a year earlier, in August 2018.
Epstein told reporter James B. Stewart that he had promised to keep his work for Tesla private because of his prior conviction. Epstein also warned that both Musk and Tesla would deny their connection to Epstein if it ever became public, the Times reported. In a statement to Business Insider, a spokesperson for Musk denied Epstein’s claims of having served as an adviser to the CEO.
Musk and Maxwell were photographed at an Oscars after-party hosted by former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014, in West Hollywood. The same Musk spokesperson told Business Insider that “Ghislaine simply inserted herself behind him in a photo he was posing for without his knowledge.”
Musk has confirmed crossing paths with Epstein at least once, Business Insider reported. Musk, Epstein, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were all guests at a dinner hosted by LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman sometime after he was released from jail in 2008.
MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito quietly worked with Epstein to secure anonymous donations, Vanity Fair reported.
Ito worked with other directors and staff at the MIT Media Lab to quietly receive large anonymous donations from Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting underage girls for prostitution, a New Yorker exposé published on September 6 reports. The article contains emails sent between Ito and Epstein.
The emails show Epstein also worked as an in-between for other wealthy donors, including Bill Gates and Leon Black, and that Epstein had a role in determining what his donations would be used for at MIT, contradicting previous statements from Ito and the university.
Ito resigned from his posts at MIT, The New York Times Company, and the MacArthur Foundation on September 7, Business Insider reported.
Epstein worked as a go-between for the MIT Media Lab and Bill Gates to arrange donations, Vanity Fair reported.
Emails obtained and published by The New Yorker show former MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito wrote that Gates was “directed by” Epstein to donate $2 million to the research lab in October 2014.
Gates also met with Epstein at least once in New York in 2013, and flew on one of his private planes to Palm Beach, Business Insider previously reported. “Bill attended a meeting in New York with others focused on philanthropy. While Epstein was present, he never provided services of any type to Bill,” a Gates spokesperson told Business Insider.
A spokesperson for Gates told Business Insider that “Epstein was introduced to Bill Gates as someone who was interested in helping grow philanthropy. Although Epstein pursued Bill Gates aggressively, any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between the two is simply not true. And any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.”
A New York Times investigation published in October found that Gates met with Epstein multiple times after Epstein’s conviction in 2011, including at least three meetings at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse. Following the publication of that story, a spokesperson for Gates said Gates regretted the association, but Gates himself hadn’t publicly addressed it until November, Business Insider’s Aaron Holmes reported.
Gates said at The New York Times’ Dealbook Conference in November that he believed “billions of dollars” would come from his meetings with Jeffrey Epstein. “I made a mistake in judgment in thinking those discussions would go to global health,” Gates said. “That money never appeared.”
“I gave him the benefit of my association,” Gates said.
Reid Hoffman defended Ito after news of Epstein’s connections to the MIT Media Lab broke.
A “few years ago,” Epstein attended a dinner Hoffman hosted to honor an MIT neuroscientist, Vanity Fair reported in July. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk were also in attendance. Both denied having had ongoing relationships with Epstein to Vanity Fair through spokespeople.
Hoffman also implicated himself in the cover up of Epstein’s donations to the MIT Media Lab. As pressure mounted on Media Lab director Joi Ito to resign, Hoffman defended Ito to author and fellow MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award jury member Anand Giridharadas in a private email, Giridharadas tweeted in September. “Hoffman basically hid behind bureaucracy and the old ‘ongoing investigation’ excuse,” Giridharadas said in the now-unavailable tweet. “He said it would be complicated to release the correspondence publicly because other names might get dragged in. Someone should tell him about redaction.”
According to Giridharadas, Hoffman wrote in a second email that Giridharadas was making the situation “all about you” by threatening to resign. In the end, Giridharadas resigned from the Disobedience Award jury.
Hoffman not only sits on the Disobedience Award’s jury, but funds it personally, according to the Media Lab’s website. In 2017, MIT awarded Epstein and other donors “orbs” to thank them for their support, according to The Boston Globe. The orb looks similar to the trophy given to winners of the Disobedience Award.
A lawsuit has also shined light on Epstein’s connection to former U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John P. de Jongh while he was in office.
Gov. John P. de Jongh’s wife Cecile de Jongh served on the board of Epstein’s Financial Trust Co. for most of her husband’s time in office, Business Insider’s Becky Peterson and John Cook reported. Cecile de Jongh held the titles of secretary and vice president in her decade-long tenure with the company, even staying on board after Epstein was first charged with sexual assault in 2007.
Prosecutors in the US Virgin Islands alleged that Epstein was trafficking women and children through the US territory during that same time, as stated in a January lawsuit. The lawsuit describes one 15-year-old victim who was “forced into sexual acts with Epstein and others and then attempted to escape by swimming off the Little St. James island.”
In a statement, a lawyer representing Epstein’s estate told Business Insider that some of the allegations in the lawsuit were inaccurate – particularly allegations that the estate to this day engages in “a course of conduct aimed at concealing the criminal activities of the Epstein Enterprise.”
“The Estate is being administered in accordance with the laws of the US Virgin Islands and under the supervision of the Superior Court of the US Virgin Islands,” the statement said.
Barclays CEO Jes Staley is under investigation by British authorities because of his friendship with Epstein.
Staley had a “professional relationship” with Epstein that dated back to “early in his career,” Barclays said in a statement.
“In the summer of 2019, in light of the renewed media interest in the relationship, Mr. Staley volunteered and gave to certain executives, and the Chairman, an explanation of his relationship with Mr. Epstein,” Barclays stated. “Mr. Staley also confirmed to the Board that he has had no contact whatsoever with Mr. Epstein at any time since taking up his role as Barclays Group CEO in December 2015.”
The relationship is the subject of an investigation by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, according to the bank.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.