When wealthy 66-year-old money manager and accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committed suicide in his jail cell on 10 August, he left many questions unanswered.
Nobody knows for sure how Jeffrey Epstein made his money, but he had enough to buy properties across the world and establish a foundation that donated to Harvard University. Epstein also hob-nobbed with the world’s wealthiest and most influential people, including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew. Eventually, though, he ran out luck and the casino of fame closed its doors. Epstein was accused of having sex with under-aged girls and procuring girls for his famous friends to have sex with. Suddenly, Epstein found himself without friends, by the time he was finally arrested to face charges carrying jail-time of 45 years, nobody wanted to have anything to do with the “Wizard of Oz”. But who was Jeffrey Epstein?
The Financial Genius
After an unsuccessful start as a high-school teacher, Epstein worked for Bear Stearns chairman Ace Greenberg, becoming a limited partner before founding his own firm, J. Epstein and Co., in 1982. The firm’s dealings remain mysterious: the firm only accepted clients with $1 billion and more, but only one client has ever been confirmed. “It’s like looking at the Wizard of Oz – there may be less there than meets the eye,” an investor told New York Magazine in 2002.
Nonetheless, by 1992, Epstein owned the largest private residence in Manhattan and bought homes in Paris, Miami and New Mexico, as well as the island of Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands. A $30 million donation to Harvard in 2003 established him as a patron of the elite.
Sexual Pyramid Scheme
The first major wobble came in 2005.
For years Epstein had shrugged off rumours of under-age sexual abuse. Then a woman in Palm Beach, Florida tipped off detectives that her step-daughter had been molested by a wealthy man named “Jeff”. Things looked bad, but a secret deal with then-US Attorney Acosta got Epstein immunity from federal prosecution. He only pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation and procurement of minors for prostitution and got off with a 13-month jail sentence. Incredibly, he was allowed to leave jail for his office six days a week. He did, however, become a registered sex offender.
Then in November 2018, the Miami Herald published new evidence. Some 80 women alleged that Epstein routinely sexually abused girls as young as 14. He would pay for massages, often subjecting girls to masturbation and intercourse, and offered them money to recruit other victims – a sexual pyramid scheme. Epstein denied the charges but was arrested on 8 July and denied bail. Investigators discovered fresh, damning evidence of under-age sexual abuse on hard drives stored in his home; the next day, Epstein was found dead in his cell.
Lifestyles of the Sick and Famous
Association with high-profile people was an important part of Jeffrey Epstein’s operations.
“I invest in people, be it politics or science,” Epstein said in 2002. “It’s what I do.”
Epstein famously paid for President Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey to take a trip to Africa. In 2002, Donald Trump described Epstein as a good friend who “enjoys his social life”.
Epstein’s black book contained the names of royals and royal connections including Prince Andrew, Prince Andrew’s former wife Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Diana’s brother Charles Althorp. Ferguson and Prince Andrew were also named in Epstein’s private jet log, in which Bill Clinton’s name appeared frequently.
Epstein allegedly ordered 15-year-old Mar-a-Largo employee Virginia Roberts Giuffre to have sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions.
Prince Andrew was introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell. Maxwell allegedly started recruiting girls for Epstein after they stopped dating.
Prince Andrew, Trump and Clinton deny any knowledge of Epstein’s depraved schemes.