Jeffrey Epstein’s billionaire pal, Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black, has filed another lawsuit against the former Russian model who alleges he raped her, claiming she may be a Russian spy and that she and her lawyers attempted to “harm and humiliate him” despite the fact she had already allegedly collected millions in a confidentiality agreement.
The suit, filed in New York state Supreme Court on Monday and seen by The Daily Beast, alleges Guzel Ganieva “made false allegations” that Black assaulted and abused her, which he claims was in direct violation of a confidentiality agreement “under which Plaintiff had paid her millions.”
The assault allegations include a July 2014 incident in which she alleges he “barged into” her apartment when she was unwell and raped her. He denies those allegations.
The latest suit also alleges Ganieva’s attorneys, Wigdor LLP, “used its public relations acumen and contacts to ensure that her violative and malicious disclosure of information she and Black contracted to keep confidential was broadly disseminated.”
Also named in the suit is Apollo co-founder Josh Harris.
“Among other things, their collective misconduct has cost Plaintiff the chairmanship of the company he founded, took public, and ran for some 30 years,” Black’s suit says.
Black, a former client of wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, alleges the confidentiality agreement, which was signed by Ganieva and provided in the court documents, prohibited “disclosing her relationship with Plaintiff and also releases all claims against him.”
Black claims the pair engaged in a consensual affair but Ganieva says differently, alleging he sexually abused her for years and coerced her into signing a non-disclosure agreement to keep her silent about the assaults.
The suit says that over the course of six years, Ganieva accepted monthly payments “that together totaled more than $9 million” while she was enrolled in law school “and while she was represented and advised by counsel.” Black alleges Ganieva, “with the assistance and at the direct urging of Wigdor, breached these provisions.”
Also under the agreement, Black allegedly agreed to forgive outstanding loans he had made to Ganieva, provide her with additional support for a renewed round of immigration applications in the United Kingdom, and pay her additional consideration in the form of $100,000 per month for 15 years.
“In exchange, Ganieva agreed to (1) fully release any purported claims she had or might in the future have against Black and (2) keep her relationship with him strictly confidential.”
The court filing also alleges Ganieva could be a Russian spy, which could “appear to shed light upon Ganieva’s conduct toward Black.” The filing cites a March 28, 2022, report from the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which published a list titled “Employees of the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) participating in the criminal activities of the aggressor country on the territory of Europe.”
Number 139 on that list, the filing says, is a version of Ganieva’s name: Maria Gennadievna Guchapsheva. The filing cites two “internet-based publications” including the Estonian Free Press which make such mention. When seen by The Daily Beast, the name reads: HUCHAPSHEVA MARIA HENNADIEVNA. “Ganieva’s alleged entry has her name slightly mis-spelled, and her date of birth is different,” the filing quotes former chief reporter of the Daily Express and investigations editor of the Mail on Sunday journalist Dennis Rice from his site, National Security News. “The Ukrainian intelligence service is, however, adamant she and the spy on the list are the same person.” According to The Independent, the list has not been independently verified and the Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment.
The court fights between the pair began in March last year, when Ganieva took to Twitter, alleging she was “sexually harassed and abused” by Black for years. Black denied the allegations, confirming he “foolishly” engaged in a consensual affair with the former model that had ended more than seven years prior. In the days after the Twitter posts, however, Black made a surprise early exit from his private equity firm.
Then, last June, she sued the embattled billionaire for defamation, alleging he lied to the media about their relationship and falsely accused her of extortion.
In January, Black unveiled shocking accusations against Apollo co-founder Josh Harris in a new court filing, describing him as an “archrival” who backed Ganieva’s litigation behind the scenes after losing “a multi-billion-dollar succession fight” to replace Black as Apollo’s CEO in 2021.
In the firing line was also New York public relations executive Steven Rubenstein, who the embattled mogul claimed at the time was enlisted by Harris to plant negative stories about him in the press. The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in June, though Black has appealed.
In the new court filing, Black alleges that “following Ganieva’s public statements, and in light of the organized campaign against him, Black had no choice but to resign to protect Apollo, losing the considerable financial and other benefits he was entitled to as Chairman and CEO.”
The suit noted a former August 2021 amended complaint by Ganieva that Black trafficked and “kidnapped” her “against her will” to Epstein’s house during an October 2008 flight to Florida. In the new filing Black said “contemporaneous flight records confirm” that “never happened” and defiantly stated: “Black will demonstrate that these allegations are false.”
Black met Guzel Ganieva at a party in 2008. From 2008 until 2014, the pair engaged in a sporadic, consensual affair, Black’s lawsuit claims. Ganieva refutes this, accusing Black of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and gender-motivated violence throughout their relationship, which ended in 2015 when she was allegedly forced to sign the NDA and take hush money.
“Ganieva’s communications with Black between 2008 and 2014 were marked by consistent expressions of love and affection on her part,” the suit claims. “Black paid for Ganieva’s apartment but never had the key. He also paid for her acting lessons, financed expensive vacations, paid for a $40,000 portrait of her, and purchased a Steinway & Sons piano for her son. He made a series of loans to her, and attempted to assist her in finding employment in the finance industry.”
Black is seeking judgment in his favor, including compensation for damages and for any and all other monetary and/or non-monetary losses suffered by him. He is also seeking award for “damages for Defendants’ gross, wanton, malicious, and outrageous misconduct” and award for attorney’s fees.
Speaking to The Daily Beast in June, Jeanne M. Christensen, one of Ganieva’s lawyers, said in a statement: “This case is the epitome of why #MeToo exists. In textbook fashion, men with wealth, power, and an army of elite lawyers continue to escape accountability for their heinous acts by twisting the legal system to penalize their victims for speaking up.”