- New York-based financier Jeffrey Epstein died by apparent suicide August 10 while being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
- Epstein was arrested July 6 on suspicion of sex trafficking minors and was being held without bail awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. He had pleaded not guilty.
- The arrest came more than a decade after Epstein dodged federal charges in a secret plea deal after years of fielding allegations of sexually abusing young girls.
- The new charges cracked Epstein’s carefully curated and mysterious image that was seeded in the highest levels of New York’s political and financial social circles.
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Financier Jeffrey Epstein, 66, died by suicide on August 10 while being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Epstein was arrested on July 6 in New York City on suspicion of sex trafficking underage girls in the early 2000s.
As a businessman and criminal, Epstein has a long documented history.
Here is a look at his life, career, criminal charges, and famous connections.
Epstein was born on January 20, 1953 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In his early 20’s, he taught physics and maths at Manhattan’s elite K-12 Dalton School.
After attending Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, Epstein dropped out of Manhattan’s Cooper Union in 1971. He then enrolled in New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences but left without a degree.
Despite the gaps in his education, Epstein taught calculus and physics at Dalton between 1973 and 1975.
While at Dalton, Epstein’s prospects for a high-flying finance career began to bloom.
While he was a teacher, Epstein reportedly tutored Bear Stearns chairman Ace Greenberg’s son and “was friendly” with his daughter, and left the school in 1976 to work at the firm.
Epstein did well at the firm and was made a limited partner before he decided to leave in 1981 to start his own firm.
Source: Vanity Fair
Once he set up J. Epstein and Co. in 1982, Epstein’s wealth and career get increasingly murky.
New York Magazine credited “those who know Epstein” and “lore” for the only existing and still vague details of the firm’s business, which for tax purposes is run from the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
The firm only accepted clients with $US1 billion or more of assets and has been shrouded in secrecy since its founding. Les Wexner, the founder of the clothing brand The Limited and a high-flyer in the fashion industry, has been the only identified client of the firm.
“My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won’t get a straight answer from him,” one well-known investor told New York Magazine of Epstein in 2002. “He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I’ve also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It’s like looking at the Wizard of Oz – there may be less there than meets the eye.”
Though many weren’t exactly sure how Epstein made money, his wealth began to play out on an international scale as he snapped up properties across the world and set up a foundation that donated to Harvard.
By 1992, Epstein was the official owner of the largest private residence in Manhattan.
He would also later purchase homes in Paris, Miami, New Mexico, and the entire island of Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands.
Epstein gained public recognition through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which put his high-profile connections on display with a $US30 million donation to Harvard University.
Epstein’s philanthropic efforts culminated in the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which made headlines for a 2003 donation of $US30 million to Harvard University to establish a mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics program.
The donation showed off some of Epstein’s most elite connections, as he was publicly lauded as “brilliant” by then-Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who would later help represent him when Epstein was accused of sex crimes in 2007.
The donation joined the ranks of what some saw as Epstein’s carefully calculated efforts to curate an image of himself as an elite figure.
“He is this mysterious, Gatsbyesque figure,” someone familiar with Epstein told NYMag in 2002. “He likes people to think that he is very rich, and he cultivates this air of aloofness. The whole thing is weird.”
Epstein emerged as a “collector” of famous and powerful friends, and became well-known for footing travel for a trip to Africa with President Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey.
Epstein’s private plane took President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and comedian Chris Tucker to Africa to tour AIDS project sites.
This was one instance of Epstein getting friendly with Clinton, as the former president would reportedly take several flights on Epstein’s private plane in 2002 and 2003, according to logs Gawker obtained in 2015.
His public association with Clinton seemed to be by design, as Epstein said in 2002 that his elite social circle was a“collection” that he invested in.
“I invest in people, be it politics or science,” Epstein said. “It’s what I do.”
Clinton isn’t the only president who has been friendly with Epstein. Donald Trump ran in the same circles as Epstein, and seemed to be privy early on to the open secret that the financier was often surrounded by young women.
Real-estate mogul Donald Trump described Epstein in 2002 to New York Magazine as someone who “enjoys his social life” and likes women “on the younger side.”
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years,” Trump told the magazine at the time. “Terrific guy. 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.”
In 2007, Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff told the magazine that when he had flown on Epstein’s private plane in the 1990s, Epstein “was followed onto the plane by – how shall I say this? – by three teenage girls not his daughters” who were “18, 19, 20” and “model-like.”
“He has never been secretive about the girls,” Wolff said. “At one point, when his troubles began, he was talking to me and said, ‘What can I say, I like young girls.’ I said, ‘Maybe you should say, ‘I like young women.'”
Even before the latest accusations came out against Epstein, Trump has done his best to downplay the friendship.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on July 9, Trump said he knew Epstein “like everybody in Palm Beach knew him.” He continued: “I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I have spoken with him for 15 years. I was not a fan. A long time ago. I’d say maybe 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you. I was not a fan of his.”
Epstein’s connections proved valuable after Miami authorities began to investigate Epstein for sexual abuse in 2005. The financier was protected from prosecution in 2007 by Trump’s now-Secretary of Labour Alex Acosta.
After years of fielding allegations of sexually abusing young girls, detectives in Palm Beach, Florida, acted on a tip in 2005 from a woman who said a wealthy man named “Jeff” had molested her step-daughter.
But in 2007, he cut a secret deal with then-US Attorney Acosta that granted Epstein immunity from federal prosecution, and Epstein pleaded guilty only to solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution.
Epstein only ended up serving a 13-month jail sentence, during which he was reportedly allowed to leave jail six days a week to work out of his Palm Beach office.
Acosta resigned as Trump’s labour secretary in July.
Epstein’s mysterious public image began to crack over the course of his legal proceedings, as he became a registered sex offender in 2008.
In November 2018, the Miami Herald reported that dozens of victims alleged Epstein routinely abused underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.
The Herald’s Julie Brown reported that court documents detailed Epstein paying underage girls to give him massages, during which he would often subject them to further abuse and later offer them money to recruit other young girls.
Joseph Recarey, the lead Palm Beach detective on the case, said Epstein was essentially operating a “sexual pyramid scheme.” Brown and the Herald identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein.
A team of prosecutors including Dershowitz fought the charges, and Epstein responded to the suits by saying the girls consented to “the acts alleged” and that he believed they were 18, the Daily Beast reported.
On July 6, Epstein was arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking minors.
The newest charges are being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York, which alleges Epstein’s abuse of underage girls took place in his Manhattan and Florida homes.
Epstein was charged on July 8 with sex trafficking and conspiracy. In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005. Epstein pleaded not guilty.
Over the course of the investigation, unsealed documents and evidence revealed Epstein’s high-profile network facilitated sexual abuse and trafficking.
Since the arrest, unsealed documents related to the investigation into charges alleging Epstein’s revealed how the financier’s network of employees facilitated his alleged sex trafficking and his close ties to high-profile figures in politics, business, and British royalty.
US District Judge Richard Berman announced in court on July 18 that he decided against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s bail request, saying Epstein posed a flight risk as well as a public safety risk, and that there was a potential risk of obstruction of justice.
In his decision, Berman said that Epstein was a danger to himself and others and therefore should not be released. “I find that the government has established danger to others and to the community by clear and convincing evidence,” he said, noting that “I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community.”
Epstein died by suicide in the early hours of August 10.
Multiple reports broke Saturday morning that Epstein had died by suicide while he was being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
The death came shortly after he was first hospitalized in July by authorities who found him after a possible suicide attempt. Reports said Epstein was placed on suicide watch after the initial attempt.
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