Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous while abusing dozens of young girls – with his right-hand woman Ghislaine Maxwell by his side in public, and in private.
When Maxwell landed in New York City in the early 1990s, it was as her father’s emissary; Robert Maxwell had bought the New York Daily News, and dispatched his youngest child to oversee the press baron’s latest purchase.
By November 1991 Robert Maxwell was dead, and his daughter, distraught, turned to the second man who would define her life: Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein, who took his own life almost a year ago aged 66, was facing charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking when he died.
For decades he had preyed on young vulnerable girls, luring them in with promises of money, or college fees, or assistance entering the dream worlds of fashion, art and modeling. He would then force them to sexually service him or his cronies.
Jeffrey Epstein died in a New York jail in August 2019, aged 66, awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured with Donald Trump and Melania Knauss at Mar-a-Lago in 2000
‘Mr Epstein is very passionate about massages,’ his attorney had told Palm Beach police in 2005.
‘The massages are therapeutic and spiritually sound for him; that is why he has had many massages.’
Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest on Thursday brings that second dark chapter in her life – the chapter of Epstein – closer to conclusion.
She will appear in court in New Hampshire, via video link, later on Thursday and further information will be provided on charges she faces.
Maxwell was arrested at a luxurious mountain top home — called Tuckedaway — outside tiny Bradford, New Hampshire.
A neighbor told DailyMail.com he saw two small planes buzzing the area around 6am Thursday but he had left for work before the FBI arrived.
The four-bed, four-bath set on nearly 4,500 sq. ft. of land house was sold on East Washington Road was sold for $1.07 million in December last year to an company called Granite Trust LLC, a reference to New Hampshire’s Granite State nickname.
Epstein and Maxwell were, for a time, the ‘dream’ New York power couple – combining her charm and connections with his vast fortune.
Their relationship was briefly romantic, but then matured into more of a working arrangement, with Maxwell managing his palatial residences around the world and, it is alleged, running his sexual abuse empire.
Deborah Blohm, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Gwendolyn Beck at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, in 1995
Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured with Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre, at her London townhouse in 2001
Epstein was not born into money.
The son of a New York parks department worker, who grew up in a working-class neighborhood of Coney Island, Epstein was a college dropout.
After working as a teacher at a private, co-educational school he had taken a job at Bear Stearns on Wall Street, where he was a derivatives specialist.
In 1982 he founded his own company, J Epstein & Co.
When Maxwell arrived in New York in 1991, Epstein was living in a one-bedroom apartment.
But early in 1992 he moved into a grand town house on the Upper East Side that had once been occupied by the deputy consul general of Iran, paying $15,000 a month in rent.
Exactly where his money came from has never been clear.
He styled himself as a financier, but usual financial records do not leave a trail.
Epstein was a close associate of Victoria’s Secret founder Les Wexner, and managed his money – Wexner now says he was duped by Epstein.
However he accumulated his money, there was no shortage of it – a private jet, dubbed the Lolita Express, flew him around the world, and his generous gifts to scientific and academic institutions and research bodies bought him access to great minds.
Bill Gates and Elon Musk have both recounted meeting him; Bill Clinton saw him as useful philanthropist who eagerly backed the Clinton Foundation.
In 2002 Epstein loaned Clinton his jet for an Aids awareness trip to Africa, accompanied by Kevin Spacey and Chris Rock.
And the property spending continued.
In 1993 Epstein splashed out on a $12 million ranch in New Mexico, buying the 10,000-acre Zorro Ranch from the family of former governor Bruce King.
In 1995, Epstein upgraded once again, acquiring one of New York’s grandest private houses, occupying almost half a block on East 71st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues.
Epstein’s New York townhouse – one of the largest in the City – was bought by the financier in 1995
The entrance to Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, which he purchased for $12 million in 1993
The Zorro Ranch in New Mexico was bought from the family of former governor Bruce King
The house was to be one of his main bases, and furnished in extraordinary style – the hallway decorated with a wall of eyeballs; a stuffed black poodle and tiger in the upper floors; a chandelier with a life-sized female doll hanging from it; and a portrait of Bill Clinton in a dress,
It was at this house that Epstein entertained his friends and acquaintances – Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Woody Allen and Bill Gates all passed through the 15-foot doors.
The massive property spree had begun in 1990, when Epstein paid $2.5 million for a waterfront property in Palm Beach, just down the road from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
The two wealthy tycoons would spend time together at the Florida estate, with Trump in 1992 organizing a ‘calendar girls’ party with 28 women and only Epstein and he present, Vanity Fair reported.
The same year, Trump and Epstein partied there with NFL cheerleaders.
In 2000, Trump, his then-girlfriend Melania, Epstein, and Maxwell were photographed together at Mar-a-Lago. According to The New York Times, Epstein was never a paying member, but Trump made sure Epstein was treated like a close friend.
Trump described Epstein in 2002 as ‘a terrific guy’. The two fell out in 2004, and Trump now says they were not close
‘Terrific guy,’ Trump said of Epstein in 2002. ‘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.’
Trump reportedly told a former adviser, Roger Stone, that when he visited Epstein’s Palm Beach home the pool was filled with girls.
Trump said he thought it was nice that Epstein let ‘the neighborhood kids use his pool’.
The pair reportedly fell out around 2004, amid a dispute over a property purchase.
In 1998 Epstein made his most spectacular property purchase: a private island, Little St James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The 75-acre outcrop, just off St Thomas, was to become his main residence – nicknamed Pedophile Island, it was a place where he entertained guests and registered his businesses, for tax reasons.
Four years later, in 2002, he was to purchase a 2,300 square meter apartment in Paris, on Avenue Foch.
All of the properties have now been raided by police.
At the time of his death, Epstein was facing charges relating to the sexual assault of young girls between 2002-5.
But accusations of abuse long predate that.
Two sisters, Maria and Annie Farmer, told Vanity Fair in 2003 that they had been assaulted in 1996.
Annie was abused in New Mexico, and Maria at an Ohio mansion Epstein used to use.
Vanity Fair’s editor, Graydon Carter, removed their accusations, however, and the profile of Epstein ran without mention of the abuse.
The 75-acre island of Little St James in the Caribbean became nicknamed Pedophile Island
Scenes from Epstein’s private island, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He bought the island in 1998
Maria Farmer, an artist, was one of the first victims of Epstein to come forward, but her story was ignored
Three years after the Farmer sisters were abused, a 15-year-old locker room attendant working at Mar-a-Lago resort was approached by Maxwell to give Epstein a massage.
That girl was Virginia Giuffre, who was to become the first to press charges.
She alleged in a 2015 civil suit that the approach was an attempt at recruiting her into ‘sexual slavery’.
Epstein’s empire began to unravel in 2005, when a 14-year-old Palm Beach schoolgirl was found by her mother with a large amount of cash on her.
She said a female acquaintance and classmate at Royal Palm Beach High School had taken her to the house to give Epstein a massage in exchange for money.
Palm Beach police began investigating.
In June 2006 a grand jury returned an indictment on one count of solicitation of prostitution.
In July, after pressure from the Palm Beach police chief, the FBI opened a federal investigation, dubbed ‘Operation Leap Year.’
Epstein first came to the attention of Palm Beach police in 2005, when a 14-year-old girl told how he paid her for massages
Documents list the possible crime as ‘child prostitution.’
In November 2006 the case widened, as the FBI began interviewing potential witnesses and victims from Florida, New York and New Mexico.
But Epstein’s ‘all star’ legal team, featuring Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr, were also hard at work trying to get the case kicked out, or at least watered down.
In July 2007 the U.S. attorney in Miami, Alexander Acosta, entered into direct discussions about the plea agreement.
Almost a year later, after much wrangling over charges and terms, Epstein appeared in court in Palm Beach and pled guilty to two charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution for crimes committed from 2001 to 2007.
He spent 13 months in county jail in Florida in 2008, but from October was released during the day for six days a week so he could work at his office.
Epstein, who had his own wing at the Palm Beach stockade, with guards he himself paid for, was picked up by his private driver and transported to an office in West Palm Beach, where he accepted visitors for up to 12 hours a day.
He returned to the stockade in the evenings to sleep.
Epstein was released in July, and soon returned to his high-flying ways.
In December 2010 a party in his honor in New York, dubbed a ‘release party’, was attended by Prince Andrew, Katie Couric, Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, Chelsea Handler, and George Stephanopoulos.
The financier believed that he had served his time, and that the matter was settled.
Yet Acosta’s promotion to Trump’s cabinet, where he served as labor secretary, set in motion the beginning of Epstein’s downfall.
Prince Andrew and Epstein seen strolling through Central Park in December 2010 after the party
The Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein killed himself in August 2019
The jail cell where Epstein was found dead. His cause of death has been ruled a suicide
In November 2018 the Miami Herald detailed Acosta’s role in securing the astonishingly lenient plea deal of 2008.
Pressure mounted on the authorities to resume their investigations.
Epstein finally ran out of luck in July 2019, when he was arrested on landing from Paris at Teterboro airport in New Jersey.
He was confronted with new sex trafficking charges, spanning accusations that he ‘sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls’ between 2002 and 2005.
This time his lawyers could not win him favorable terms, or even bail.
In the early hours of August 10, Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.
His will, detailing instructions for his $500 million fortune, was redrafted two days before.
How the disgraced financier could have taken his own life, despite having been previously on suicide watch, was a source of mystery and anger.
Two jail guards, it later emerged, had falsified logs to show they had checked in on him, and had fallen asleep on watch.
Epstein’s lawyers said his body had been moved, and an autopsy commissioned by Epstein’s brother Mark suggested that his injuries were more consistent with strangulation than hanging.
On August 27, at a hearing to officially end the criminal case against him, Epstein’s victims vented their fury.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre (in sky blue shirt), along with Rachel Benavidez (short dark hair), Anouska De Georgiou (blue headband), Chauntae Davies (blond hair, black shirt, no earrings), Jennifer Araoz (black shirt, blond hair, large gold earrings) and Marijke Chartouni (rose/bright pink top) speaking on NBC on September 20, 2019
Epstein’s dead body, in images from the autopsy shown on CBS 60 Minutes
‘The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul,’ said Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Epstein of raping her when she was a 15-year-old student at a performing arts high school in New York.
‘They let this man kill himself and kill the chance of justice for so many others in the process, taking away our ability to speak.’
Chauntae Davies, who was an aspiring masseuse when she was attacked, told the court she would not stop in her quest for justice, and for his helpers to pay.
‘I refuse to let this man win in death,’ she said.
‘I have found my voice now, and while Jeffrey may no longer be here to hear it, I will not stop fighting, and I will not be silenced anymore.’
Sarah Ransome, another of Epstein’s accusers, urged the courts to continue to investigate his co-conspirators.
‘Please finish what you have started,’ she said.