Inside Jeffrey Epstein's press machine: How the financier tried to rehab his image post-conviction with donations and pay-for-play journalism

New York state sex offender registryA 2017 photo of Jeffrey Epstein from the New York state sex offender registry.

Jeffrey Epstein launched a PR campaign in hopes of improving his image after he was released from prison following a plea agreement on sexual abuse allegations in 2009 – and in Hollywood, it appeared to work.

Epstein spent 13 months in jail after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls as young as 14 in 2008, but he was able to avoid a lengthy prison sentence and other legal consequences, and managed to preserve his reputation as a wealthy financier, socialite, and philanthropist, through a PR campaign that featured donations to science research, pay-for-play journalism, and buying up websites, according to The New York Times.

In 2010, Epstein launched websites with names like and, and posted old photos of himself with leading scientists, like Stephen Hawking, who he met with at a gathering in 2006.

And over the years, a number of articles and news releases were published about Epstein, that appeared to be paid for by his staff.

An author of a no-longer-available-online Forbes story that called Epstein “one of the largest backers of cutting edge science” in 2013 later admitted he was paid $US600 to post the pre-written article under his byline, The Times reported.

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Epstein also donated to research organisations and universities, particularly Harvard – where his donations totaled at least $US7.5 million over two decades – and attended a prestigious science conference where he was reportedly treated like an important donor.

The PR campaign appeared to work, and Epstein, despite being a convicted sex offender, continued to socialise in wealthy inner circles for years.

The year after Epstein was released from jail, New York power broker Peggy Siegal reportedly organised a dinner party at the financier’s Manhattan townhouse in honour of Prince Andrew. Katie Couric, Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, Chelsea Handler, and George Stephanopoulos were reportedly in attendance.

In 2016, Epstein was at the premiere of Warner Brothers’ Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in November 2017, Epstein made an appearance at the Gotham Awards, according to Los Angeles Magazine.

He was arrested on June 6 charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy in connection to allegations that are almost identical to the ones he faced in 2008. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

Epstein is currently being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan while awaiting an upcoming bail hearing.

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