Jeffrey Epstein updated
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The author is the host and co-producer, along with James Patterson, of the podcast ‘Chasing Ghislaine’
It’s almost two years since the alleged pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell, months before he faces charges of human trafficking and mistreatment of numerous minors.
His victims understandably said that his untimely death robbed them of justice – what they now hope will be served in the upcoming trial of Epstein’s alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell. (She denied all charges). But Epstein remains the subject of intense media curiosity, not only because of Maxwell, but also because of his extraordinary, destructive reach to the international plutocracy.
Like a standing pack of cards collapsing, the list of billionaires who paid a reputational price for their association with Epstein grows, as it confuses.
Some of the names are now widely known: the former retail king Les Wexner who retired from the board of L Brands, the company he founded; Apollo Global Management founder Leon Black, who also stepped down as CEO, after an external review described how he paid nearly $ 160 million in Epstein fees for tax advice and lent him $ 30 million; hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, who faced an allegation in a civil lawsuit by a suspected Epstein victim, is also stepping down from his office. (All three men denied being guilty). More recently, it was reported that the largest philanthropist in the world, Bill Gates, was divorced by his wife Melinda, in part because of his encounters with Epstein.
That Epstein was able to infiltrate such a group raises a fundamental question: what did Epstein, a dropout from a university who had just spent five years at the investment bank Bear Stearns, offer that seemed irresistible?
The answer lies in the complexity of power and how it can manifest. In the last decade of his life, in an attempt to restore his image, given that he was a registered sex offender, Epstein assembled elites, mainly male salons.
I’ve been researching Epstein for almost two decades. According to my recent report, Epstein told some of his select guests that he could bring them peacefully with whomever they needed. He knows, for example, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – and if you doubt this, the photo of the Crown Prince hangs on the wall. He said he could bring you to Vladimir Putin and to any number of prominent Israelis. He had friends in high places in developing Africa, France, Britain, the Middle East, Japan and China.
And yet all these gatherings took place on the islands by the sea or in private rooms, on private voyages or in private planes – in short, he was like a private porter at the world’s best male club. Whether he could really keep everything he promised remains doubtful. But surprisingly, given the sophistication of his audience, his followers seem to have believed him.
One example: during a tea meeting held in Epstein’s mansion in 2014, Epstein brags to journalist Edward Jay Epstein (no relationship) that his financial clients include a variety of Afrikaans dictators. He also said he was effectively in charge of the Djibouti deepwater port.
Ed was skeptical: but in the middle of the conversation, a butler announces Black’s arrival. “Let Leon wait,” Epstein said. According to Ed, it took 15 minutes before Epstein finished, which left the veteran journalist wondering if his host was really credible.
We know that Epstein invited Bill Gates to dinner at his home in New York in 2011. He also invited economist Larry Summers and the then bank bank JPMorgan, Jes Staley. According to someone familiar with Epstein’s thinking, the group was a deliberate attempt to legitimize Epstein to Gates, whose spokesman said he had made a “judgmental error” and that Epstein’s “ideas regarding philanthropy” gave an undeserved platform to Epstein ‘.
Wexner also said he was completely misled by Epstein’s extraordinary ‘cunning’. According to the retailer, Epstein stole $ 46 million from him. Wexner waited significantly until Epstein’s death to mention the theft in public.
This is important because one of the vulnerabilities of the 0.001 percent that Epstein thoroughly understood and manipulated was the power of social humiliation. He told me in 2002 that in the 1980s, when he was a self-described prey hunter, he discovered that “if rich people lose money, they do not want to go to the authorities, they just want it back.”
What he did not tell me was how extremely beneficial this insight was to him personally. Over the years, a number of extremely wealthy people or leaders of institutions have told me that they or their families have been deceived by Epstein, but they remain completely ashamed to report it.
All of this obscure activity speaks to a truth that most powerful people will not immediately acknowledge: that while we think the Western world is governed by an obvious chain of command, by council chambers and politicians, it is not the only way on which influence does not work.
There is a very different socio-economic system playing in the shadows; and billionaires now being attacked by Epstein, even from the grave, wanted access to pay a very high price.