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Jeffrey Epstein was an investigative bullseye for The Daily Beast—long before the rest of the national media woke up to his sex crimes and pattern of abuse.
The self-styled “billionaire,” whose source of lucre was as mysterious as his climb to high society, had mansions in New York, Paris, and Palm Beach, Florida, along with secluded compounds in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Stanley, New Mexico. Movie stars, moguls and dignitaries took jaunts on his private jet and vacationed at his properties.
In years past, we delved into Epstein’s Palm Beach lair, where house staff booked his appointments with teen “masseuses.” We also looked into Epstein’s famous friends like Woody Allen and Katie Couric, who continued to court him, and reported on his shameless stabs at rehabilitating his image as he partied with scientific luminaries after his 2008 conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida.
And we revealed how he was able to escape more serious charges.
Back then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami scrapped a 53-page indictment against Epstein, inexplicably bowing to pressure from the hedge-funder’s lawyers and brokering a plea deal that resulted in a minor state conviction. The controversial non-prosecution agreement also protected Epstein’s co-conspirators from future charges. One of those helpers was his alleged madam, British publishing heiress Ghislaine Maxwell.
The perverted financier could have finally faced justice for sexually abusing scores of girls and young women. According to civil suits filed by victims, Epstein had been preying on minors since the 1990s.
Yet, it wasn’t until early 2019 that authorities began to look back into Epstein, following the Miami Herald’s exposé on his lenient treatment by the feds. The Daily Beast was also working to shine a light on Epstein’s sickening misdeeds in the wake of the #MeToo movement; accusations of boldfaced names like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey made news, but Epstein’s past slap-on-the-wrist was hardly noted.
His sweetheart deal in Florida made up just one piece of the puzzle. We knew his inner circle and money trail in New York beckoned further scrutiny.
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So we inspected public records for Epstein’s charities, the officers and legal counsel for the groups, and people who shared addresses with the financier. We discovered that one Russian model, who became an advocate for female entrepreneurs, lived in one of Epstein’s buildings and funded an education charity with his money in 2017.
In April, we also unmasked Epstein’s secret charity, Gratitude America Ltd., which doled out money to a panoply of groups in 2016 and 2017, including an all-girls school in Manhattan, a youth tennis program, Harvard’s theater troupe, and charities led by Deepak Chopra and Elton John.
We discovered the group—which lacked a website or any other online presence—after identifying links between the sex offender’s longtime employees. Because Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, officers of Epstein’s previous charities, donated to political candidates Epstein supported, we scrutinized other big donations within his Virgin Islands zip code.
That led us to Erika Kellerhals, an Epstein lawyer based in the Virgin Islands who made donations to the same candidates. She also served as secretary and treasurer of the now-defunct J. Epstein Virgin Islands Foundation, and she assumed the same role for Gratitude America, a review of tax records revealed.
For months, we’d been hearing rumors that authorities were building a new case against Epstein—so we kept our fingers on the pulse of a long-running lawsuit victims had filed against the government over his secret plea deal in Florida. As victims tried to get Epstein’s 2008 deal rescinded, victims’ lawyer Spencer Kuvin told The Daily Beast an assistant U.S. Attorney was meeting with accusers to determine whether the abuse they suffered crossed state lines.
Then, in July, we were the first to break the story of Epstein’s arrest. The FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force had collared the wealthy sex offender after his private flight from Paris landed in New Jersey. The scoop was the result of indefatigable teamwork between myself, opinion editor Harry Siegel, and then-weekend editor Pervaiz Shallwani, whose police sources delivered the news to us. Finally, Epstein had been indicted for trafficking girls in New York.
But we didn’t stop digging into Epstein’s past and his connections to prominent men just because he was behind bars.
We exposed the creepy money-manager’s donations and rental cabin at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen arts camp, where he allegedly procured one victim in the 1990s, according to a recent lawsuit. Public records such as local press clippings, and even Interlochen newsletter archives, indicated Epstein, a former camper, was deeply involved with the school. And former executives at the institution confirmed that for us in interviews.
“He kept to his own schedule,” one former school official said of Epstein’s visits to the summer camp with Ghislaine Maxwell, who just this past month was arrested and charged in connection with Epstein’s trafficking ring. “Let’s say you had a major donor, you might say, ‘Why don’t you come over and have lunch with the president’…. Essentially you would court them. But there wasn’t really any of that.”
We also revealed Epstein’s status as “Bachelor of the Month” in Cosmopolitan’s July 1980 issue and interviewed one woman who replied to the personals ad and ended contact with him after a disturbing phone call. Magazine archives revealed the listing, in which a “New York dynamo” in a business suit was seeking “a cute Texas girl.”
Epstein killed himself last August in federal lockup. In the months since his jailhouse suicide, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan has assured the public that their probe didn’t end with his death. Victims have filed at least 20 lawsuits against the financier’s estate, and Epstein’s legal team is fighting to dismiss the claims.
The news cycle on the wealthy sex-trafficker is now churning back into action with Maxwell behind bars. And The Daily Beast won’t stop investigating their alleged system of abuse—or the other power players who enabled it.
We’re able to dig into Jeffrey Epstein’s secrets—and those of his powerful friends—because of the support of Beast Inside members. Join us today!