Epstein Bankrolled Strange Foundation With Ties to Famous French Politician Jack Lang
The Daily Beast has learned Epstein bankrolled a French organization whose executives have ties to Jack Lang, who decades ago defended pedophiles and who is pals with Woody Allen.
By spring 2019, Jeffrey Epstein was persona non grata in America. The Miami Herald had published an exposé on the financier’s abuse of underage girls, the Justice Department had opened an investigation into his secret 2008 plea deal, and federal prosecutors in Manhattan were quietly building new criminal charges against him.
Perhaps that’s why Epstein took refuge in Paris, where not everyone shunned the wealthy sex offender. French politician Jack Lang, the country’s former minister of culture and minister of education, told Paris-based news outlet Franceinfo that he and Epstein attended a party for the Louvre pyramid’s 30-year anniversary in March 2019—about four months before the FBI arrested Epstein. Lang reportedly invited the sex trafficker, whom he described as “a charming, courteous and pleasant person.”
Now The Daily Beast has learned that Epstein bankrolled a French organization whose executives have ties to Lang, who decades ago endorsed a disturbing opinion regarding sex with 13-year-olds and, like Epstein, is friendly with embattled director Woody Allen.
The name of the group, L’Association Pour La Promotion De La Politique Culturelle Nationale Menée Dans Les Années 80 Et 90 Du Xxème Siècle, translates to “Association for the Promotion of National Cultural Policy Conducted in the 80s and 90s of the Twentieth Century.” The group’s mission, listed in French incorporation documents, is as vague as its title: to promote the major leaders and achievements of these decades’ cultural policy.
Still, Lang is renowned for his cultural sway during that era. One 2016 profile in Apollo noted, “Jack Lang’s appointment in 1981 is, with hindsight, the most decisive in shaping the form the culture ministry has taken today. Lang’s years in charge were memorable, colorful, and divisive.” Lang’s policies were “also providing a real boost to creativity and its free expression,” the magazine noted. A New York Times piece from 1985 hailed Lang a “superstar of French culture” for his appeal to young voters.
Before his July 2019 arrest, Epstein’s shadowy nonprofit Gratitude America Ltd. lavished funds on this obscure Paris project and two other international groups: a sex clinic in Rome and a Lithuanian ballet company.
The French organization, which has no website or social media presence, launched in 2018—the same year it received $57,897 from Gratitude America. Two of Lang’s former aides are officers of the association, while one current employee of Lang’s office is a representative of the group.
Jacques Renard, the group’s treasurer, was deputy director and chief of staff under Lang’s culture ministry during the 1980s and early ’90s. Christophe Degruelle, the association’s president, is a city councilor in Blois who worked as Lang’s chief of staff in the education ministry from 2000 to 2002.
Degruelle and Lang were photographed together as recently as 2018, and in a 2016 interview, Degruelle said he’d spent the last three years advising Lang as president of the Arab World Institute. “I have two passions in life: politics and culture. I am lucky to have a balance between local public action and an activity with Jack Lang which meets my expectations,” Degruelle said.
Meanwhile, Fabrice Parsy is named as an agent of the group in a document signed by Renard, records show. Parsy currently works in Lang's office.
Florist and boutique owner Sylvie Aubry is secretary of the association, which shares her business address in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. It’s unclear whether she is connected to Lang or Epstein, or how she’s linked to the other men.
None of the association’s officers returned messages seeking comment.
Lang didn’t reply when a Beast reporter emailed him for comment; instead, Parsy answered as a staffer within Lang’s office, saying Lang was busy planning an event for the Arab World Institute and was unavailable.
Parsy did not respond to follow-up messages from The Daily Beast.
Epstein was a frequent flyer to Paris. When the FBI handcuffed him on a New Jersey tarmac last year, he'd just returned from a trip to the French capital.
French authorities began investigating Epstein in August 2019, after he killed himself in U.S. federal lockup. The French inquiry “will focus on potential crimes against French victims committed on national territory as well as abroad,” Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz said at the time, “and on perpetrators who are French citizens.”
Epstein’s Little Black Book had multiple French phone numbers, including for interior designer Alberto Pinto—who decorated Epstein’s New York mansion and met one of Epstein’s victims in Paris—and for Hôtel de Crillon, where Aubry is the official florist. The rolodex also contained a section titled “Massage - Paris.”
Police searched Epstein’s $8.6-million apartment on Avenue Foch and the offices of French modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, whom victims’ lawyers (and even his own former bookkeeper) have accused of procuring girls for Epstein and who has previously been accused of rape himself. In 1988, 60 Minutes reported on claims Brunel drugged models and allegedly raped one woman while she was unconscious. (Brunel has denied all these claims.)
The Paris prosecutor’s office told The Daily Beast it’s also investigating Epstein's alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell as part of the investigation into his suspected rape and abuse of minors in France. Maxwell is a citizen of France, where she was born and her family has homes. She also has citizenship in the U.K. and U.S.
After Epstein’s death, the media’s focus shifted to Maxwell and her whereabouts, and some tabloids speculated she was holed up in Paris.
Maxwell is being held in a federal detention facility in New York as she awaits trial on charges related to Epstein’s sex ring. The British socialite has long denied any involvement with Epstein’s sex crimes and fought victims' lawsuits accusing her of abuse.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a survivor of Epstein’s trafficking ring, has claimed Epstein and Maxwell brought her to Paris and forced her to have sex with them and others, including the unidentified owner of a large hotel chain.
For his part, Lang has claimed he knew nothing of Epstein’s unseemly history.
He told Franceinfo he met Epstein a few years ago, when Princess Camilla of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, the Duchess of Castro, reportedly feted director Woody Allen—also a longtime friend of Epstein—at her home in Paris.
Lang, 81, has defended Allen in the wake of accusations he molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow, when she was 7 years old. On the day Farrow broke down in tears during a January 2018 interview with CBS This Morning, Lang tweeted in support of Allen, writing “#WoodyAllenforever” and (the typo, his) “Il love you.”
“Why in this strange time should we cast scorn on Woody? This results in the worst thing: economic censorship, a professional ban on a grand master of world cinema,” Lang told Franceinfo when asked about the tweets. He added, “I do not set myself up as a judge or a Supreme Court of morals, but in this period, in the United States, there was a sort of witch-hunt in the press, in certain media.”
Lang is no stranger to defending accused pedophiles. In 1977, he signed a letter published in Le Monde defending three men imprisoned for sexually abusing 12- and 13-year-olds. (Some reports said the victims were 13 and 14.) “Three years in prison for hugs and kisses is enough,” read the letter by French scribe Gabriel Matzneff, known for writing about his penchant for sex with children. Other signatories included French intellectuals Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Media outlets recently called Matzneff “the Jeffrey Epstein of Paris,” after the publication of Vanessa Springora’s memoir Consent, which alleges Matzneff began raping her when she was 14. French police have asked other witnesses and victims of Matzneff’s abuse to come forward.
Of Epstein, Lang told Franceinfo: “I went only once to his place on Avenue Foch for a lunch. It is true that he was often accompanied by several pretty women, but who were clearly not minors.” He said he was very surprised to learn of the accusations against Epstein.
Asked about Maxwell, Lang claimed he didn’t remember meeting her but knew her father, the late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell. “Robert Maxwell is someone that everyone met in the years 1985-1986 during the maelstrom around the privatization of TF1,” Lang said, referring to the French national TV channel.
The politician wasn’t the only high-profile visitor to Epstein's pied-à-terre.
Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein stayed with Epstein in Paris and allegedly tried to sexually assault one of the financier’s women during a non-sexual massage.
Meanwhile, Epstein’s French butler claimed Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, called on Epstein in the fall of 2018. (Bannon was also spotted entering Epstein’s Manhattan mansion for what Page Six described as a “secret meeting.”) The employee told Franceinfo that Prince Andrew, Microsoft magnate Bill Gates and wife Melinda, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak visited Epstein in Paris too.
Several survivors of Epstein’s trafficking scheme say he abused them in Paris.
Juliette Bryant was 20 and an aspiring model when Epstein lured her from South Africa in 2002 with promises of New York modeling jobs. In a lawsuit, Bryant says Epstein trafficked her for years, repeatedly raping her at his Caribbean compound, and abusing her at his homes around the world including in Paris.
Bryant was “forced to travel to Epstein’s home in Paris where she had to stay with Ghislaine Maxwell, one of Epstein’s main recruiters of young females, and where [Epstein’s assistant and co-conspirator] Sarah Kellen forced her to be photographed nude for Epstein,” her complaint states. “During that trip, Juliette witnessed that young females were on call to sexually pleasure Epstein.”
A lawsuit filed by Teala Davies says she was 17 when the financier “crept into Teala’s bedroom” in Paris and raped her in 2003. Another complaint from a woman referred to as Mary Doe alleges the trafficker invited her “to stay in his home in Paris, and arranged for her to attend a concert accompanied by a world-famous supermodel.”
Anouska De Georgiou, a British model and actress, told NBC that Epstein abused her at his homes in Paris, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “And in every location there was this microcosm of acceptance, of ‘yes’ people, who acted like this was normal,” De Georgiou said.
Giuffre, who was trafficked by Epstein from 1999 to 2002, said both he and Maxwell sexually abused her in France on several occasions.
In a 2016 deposition, Giuffre said she had sexual contact with Maxwell, Epstein and a third person (whose name was redacted) at a hotel overlooking the Champs-Élysées. Afterward, Maxwell allegedly went into the city to recruit a girl for Epstein.
Maxwell “walked up to this French girl to show me how easy it was for her to procure girls,” Giuffre testified. “I wasn't very good at it. And, you know... part of my training was to bring in other girls. So she walked up to her. Within five minutes she had her number and that girl came over later that night to the hotel and serviced Jeffrey.”
“I didn't see Ghislaine with her,” Giuffre added. “I just know she told me what happened and Jeffrey told me what happened.”
Giuffre said she was also coerced into sex with Maxwell, Epstein and a third person at a residence in the south of France before a birthday party.
Later in the deposition, Giuffre said Maxwell sent her to the owner of a large hotel chain around the time of supermodel Naomi Campbell’s birthday party. “I was instructed by Ghislaine to go and give him an erotic massage,” Giuffre testified.
Flight records for Epstein’s private jet indicate he traveled to Paris often in recent years, including just before his arrest. On March 19, 2019, his plane traveled from New York to Paris, and from there took jaunts to Nice and Vienna, Austria, flight logs published by Business Insider reveal.
On April 2, 2019, Epstein's plane flew from Paris to New York, before returning to Paris on April 19. From there, Epstein traveled to Rabat, Morocco, for a day on April 25. He flew to New York three days later. His final trip to Paris was on June 14.
Epstein’s “girlfriend” Karyna Shuliak was in Paris with him before he returned July 6 and was arrested at Teterboro Airport, the New York Daily News reported. Shuliak, 31, was reportedly the last person to speak to Epstein in a recorded phone call from jail.
The trips abroad were mentioned in a lawsuit which the attorney general for the U.S. Virgin Islands filed against Epstein’s $634-million estate.
“Monitoring a sex offender with his own private islands and the resources to fly victims in and out on private planes and helicopters presented unique challenges and allowed the Epstein Enterprise to limit scrutiny by the Government of the Virgin Islands,” the complaint states.
Epstein, a registered sex offender in the Caribbean territory, “misled the Government regarding his travel plans” before he flew to Paris.
“On March 19, 2019, the Virgin Islands was notified that Epstein would be traveling to France for 10 days... His notification form did not disclose travel to any other countries,” the lawsuit says. “It was later found by law enforcement authorities that Epstein also travelled to Vienna and Monaco during that trip.”
The U.S. Marshals Service was investigating Epstein’s unreported travel to Europe weeks before his suicide and sought assistance from authorities in France, Monaco, Austria and Morocco, records obtained by Muckrock revealed.
According to the redacted documents, an air traffic controller in the U.S. Virgin Islands claimed she witnessed Epstein disembark his plane with young girls on several occasions between June 2018 and November 2018. The controller said she saw girls who appeared to be 11 or 12 years old with Epstein, and in another instance, a girl who looked 16 to 18.
But two days after Epstein died, the U.S. Marshals Service closed the probe and cancelled requests for assistance from France and the other countries.