Jeffrey Epstein is dead. He was indicted on sex crimes, including trafficking girls as young as 14. He was a billionaire, making his fortune as a former hedge fund manager. He had ties to the Clintons, President Trump, and members of the Royal Family. That connection to some of the most wealthy and powerful individuals is what helped him dodge the legal bullet when authorities hauled him in on these allegations. It’s been an open secret that Mr. Epstein has certain…proclivities. He was given a sweetheart plea deal over ten years ago, where he avoided serious jail time. The reason, at the time, was due to lack of evidence. The Miami Herald re-examined the details of the plea deal, which led to Epstein’s arrest this summer. He committed suicide while under federal custody over the weekend, a move that has drawn allegations that there's a conspiracy at work. The FBI is investigating the matter. While most conspiracy theorists are often mocked and dismissed, and rightfully so, Epstein’s alleged blackmail tapes and, more importantly, the fact that he was taken off suicide hours before he died—has some people to raise eyebrows. Epstein had tried to kill himself two weeks ago. The trove of evidence taken from his Manhattan residence included cataloged tapes. It’s safe to say that this wasn’t the Complete Series of The Sopranos.
Yet, Epstein also allegedly had a right-hand man or in this case, a woman. Ghislaine Maxwell is the woman who is allegedly the former indicted pedophile’s closest confidant. A fixture of the New York socialite scene, she’s been described as someone who could liven up any table. Pictured also with some of the most successful individuals out there as well. Did she work for Epstein? She’s been rumored to manage some of his properties, though that’s tabloid gossip. She did reportedly run some errands for him, which The New Yorker touched on. It reads like a scene from Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, you know, the parts where everyone knows everyone but has little to no knowledge of what they do and no one seems to care either. Yet, there’s also a dark side here: Maxwell is the person who some say lured girls into Epstein’s web of sex acts (via New Yorker):
I know her just socially,” growled the furrier Dennis Basso, who swathes the wealthy in mink. “Alone. She’s been to my fashion shows. But some hundreds of people come.”
Alone — that’s the party line now. Because Maxwell’s closest associate, her intimate, her maybe-employer and now the albatross keeping company with the jewelry around her neck, is Jeffrey Epstein. The disgraced financier, who has been accused of sexually abusing underage girls, is currently awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. Maxwell seemed to know many rich and powerful men — articles mention her dining with Bill Clinton, photos show her partying with Elon Musk and deep in conversation with Stephen Schwarzman — but her most durable connection has been with Epstein. She was there at his gargantuan townhouse on East 71st Street, there on his private plane, there with him and Donald Trump and his then-girlfriend Melania at Mar-a-Lago. She was, as he put it in a 2003 Vanity Fair profile, his “best friend.” Maxwell, 57, has been accused in civil suits of serving as his procuress, luring women and girls into Epstein’s web. Maxwell has denied these allegations and has never been criminally charged. Her attorneys did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In court documents, Epstein’s accusers allege that Maxwell acted as a recruiter, an instructor, and in some cases a participant in the abuse he practiced. Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims that Maxwell recruited her on behalf of Epstein when Giuffre was a 16-year-old spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, where Epstein has a home, said much of her grooming came from Maxwell herself. “The training started immediately,” she said in a video interview with the Miami Herald. “It was everything down to how to give a blowjob, how to be quiet, be subservient, give Jeffrey what he wants. A lot of this training came from Ghislaine herself. Being a woman, it kind of surprises you that a woman could let stuff like that happen. Not only let it happen but to groom you into doing it.”
Those who knew Maxwell only as a friendly face on the social circuit were wholly unaware of this side of her. “I have nothing bad to say about her,” one former acquaintance said. “Nobody knew any of this creepy sex stuff,” said another. “No one I knew had any idea.”
Those who knew her in connection with Epstein saw her as nothing more sinister than a social matchmaker.
“Every pretty girl in New York in those days, Ghislaine would invite to Jeffrey’s,” said Euan Rellie, an investment banker and social fixture who has known Maxwell for years and who, along with his wife, the author and socialite Lucy Sykes, was a fellow guest at a dinner for Prince Andrew at Epstein’s townhouse in the early aughts.
Epstein, for his part, once said she wasn’t on the payroll. Yet she did errands for him: hunted for a yoga teacher in California, according to Vanity Fair, or acted as intermediary when he wanted to give his friend the billionaire Les Wexner a family portrait painted by Nelson Shanks, whose previous commissions included Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Pope John Paul II.
In the social world, questions of profession are secondary anyway. “Half of my friends, I don’t even know what they do,” said one social regular who knew Maxwell casually. “It’s just not done to even ask those things.”
And why would you, when Maxwell was great company, as one longtime power broker called her? An addition to any table, said another. “If there was one word, it was charming,” said Patrick McMullan, the society photographer. Vicky Ward, who wrote the Vanity Fair profile of Epstein (and who has said publicly that her reporting about Epstein’s abuse of two young girls was removed from it), returned to the subject of Epstein and Maxwell in a short, separate article. “Full disclosure: I like her,” she wrote. “Most people in New York do. It’s almost impossible not to.”
She was said to be wickedly funny and unusually knowledgeable, glamorous and, on top of that, British. (“I think New Yorkers are charmed by that high-end English accent,” McMullan said.) She could toss off a quip and a flourish worthy of Waugh, even when the occasion wasn’t. “I was drip-fed Shakespeare at Oxford,” she told a party reporter at the launch of book on Richard III by a Hollywood mega-lawyer in the late ’90s. “Just sniffing fresh ink gets me high.”
Yes, this is high society indeed. And yet, even those who seem nice can commit or be part of terrible, terrible crimes. We’ll see what happens to Ms. Maxwell, but authorities obviously should question her. Even with his death, the case against Epstein is going to move forward.