Jeffrey Epstein ‘She was so dangerous’: where in the world is the notorious Ghislaine Maxwell?
In the months since Jeffrey Epstein died in prison, his former partner has disappeared. Will she ever return to face her accusers?
Emine Saner Thu 12 Dec 2019
….It was the mid-90s and this was the second time the two had met. Farmer had encountered Maxwell and her friend Jeffrey Epstein at her New York Academy of Art graduate show. She would go on to work for the pair for a year, at the front desk of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. She was perfectly placed to see who came to the house – and says she witnessed young teenagers being brought through the doors by Maxwell. Following an alleged sexual assault by Maxwell and Epstein, Farmer went to the police. She was ignored.
More than 20 years on, her account – along with the testimonies of several other women, including an allegation of abuse from her younger sister, Annie, who was 16 at the time – has helped to create a picture of Epstein as a prolific sex offender, who abused countless underage girls. It is a scandal that has drawn in other powerful men, most notably Prince Andrew. One woman, Virginia Giuffre, says she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew on three occasions. He has repeatedly denied the allegations, most recently in his disastrous TV interview.
In July, Epstein was charged with sex trafficking, and in August he killed himself in his prison cell while awaiting trial. Since then, attention has turned to Maxwell, 57, his right-hand woman. Yet Maxwell has seemingly vanished. “From what we know, Ghislaine Maxwell was a principal enabler to Jeffrey Epstein when he was alive,” says the lawyer Dan Kaiser. Kaiser is representing Jennifer Araoz, one of the women who says she was raped by Epstein, and who is suing his estate, Maxwell and three other “enablers”.
“She was integral in maintaining the sex trafficking ring,” says Kaiser. “She provided important administrative services in terms of the hiring of recruiters, and management of those employees, the making of appointments and dates for interactions between Mr Epstein and the underage girls that were providing sexual services to him. She also maintained the ring by intimidating girls, by ensuring their silence.”
Kaiser continues: “Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t have done what he did for as long as he did it without the services of somebody like Ghislaine Maxwell. She is as culpable, in my judgment, as Jeffrey Epstein himself.” Maxwell has always denied the allegations and has never faced criminal charges. Her lawyer has not responded to a request for comment….
Her social standing was such that it would probably be easier to list the influential people to whom Maxwell was not connected. She was close to Bill Clinton and attended Chelsea Clinton’s wedding; she donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. There are photographs of Maxwell with Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk and Michael Bloomberg. She knew Donald Trump and members of the Kennedy family. She was connected to the British royal family through Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Maxwell and Epstein – who loaned Ferguson money to pay off debts – were guests of Andrew at events, including some at Windsor castle, Balmoral and Sandringham.
Prince Andrew, in his recent Newsnight interview, said guests at the parties and dinners in Epstein’s New York mansion included “academics, politicians, people from the United Nations”. But we know now that it was not just influential friends Maxwell cultivated. One of her friends, Euan Rellie, told Tatler: “Every single interesting, pretty, new girl to arrive in New York would end up going for tea with Ghislaine, then being introduced to Jeffrey. She was the acceptable face of a rather mysterious billionaire.”
….She was charming initially, says Farmer. “Everyone [was] like: ‘This woman is so intelligent and interesting.’ She had a really great personality when you first met her.” But it didn’t take long for her to become verbally abusive towards the staff, she says. “I was one of the staff. I would have to go to Jeffrey and say: ‘Ghislaine’s verbally abusing me again.’ Then he would scream at her. It was all like ‘good cop, bad cop’, and they loved playing that game with everybody.”
Once, she says, Ivana Trump visited. “Quite often, with people like Ivana – powerful [people] – Ghislaine would say ‘Hop in the car, you can go on a ride with us’ and it was supposed to be my special little treat.” Then, as soon as they were back at the mansion, Maxwell would switch and shout at her, she says. She also says she could be threatening. “They had video cameras everywhere [in the house], and Ghislaine liked to intimidate by talking about the cameras. She’d say: ‘They’re watching you.’”
Farmer alleges that Maxwell would bring in a steady stream of young girls to the mansion, often saying she was casting for Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie company owned by Leslie Wexner, a close friend of Epstein. “It was really weird to me. I’m like [the] ‘models are so young’, and she said: ‘Yeah, but they need these models for Victoria’s Secret. They go as young as 13 now in modelling.’” Farmer alleges Maxwell would recruit teenagers from schools on the Upper East Side and in Central Park.
….It is alleged that Maxwell was not only an enabler for Epstein’s abuse, but took part in it. In her Panorama interview, Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, recounted how Maxwell and Epstein abused her at his Palm Beach house after Maxwell had recruited her from her job working as a spa attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. In 1996, Farmer says Maxwell and Epstein sexually assaulted her. She went to the police as well as more than one FBI agent, none of whom took action. She also spoke to Ward in 2002 for a Vanity Fair profile – Ward has since said that the then-editor Graydon Carter cut out the entire part about Farmer and her sister after being pressured by Epstein. A spokeswoman for the magazine has said: “Epstein denied the charges at the time and since the claims were unsubstantiated and no criminal investigation had been initiated, we decided not to include them in what was a financial story.”
….Ransome, who says she was kept for six months on Epstein’s private island and claims she was raped several times a day, said: “They were never like a couple. Jeffrey and Ghislaine were best friends, or like brother and sister. Never holding hands or kissing. And she wasn’t his employee.”
When Maxwell found that Farmer had spoken out, she made threatening calls – Farmer says she has been in hiding “for many years”. “Ghislaine kept threatening my life. She found out where I was living, and she would send messages to me or I would get a call and I would have to move again. Most of her threats were veiled, like: ‘You better look over your shoulder because there’s someone coming for you.’ She told me she was going to burn all my paintings, my career was burned.”
In 2015, Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation, after Maxwell said she was lying about the allegations she had made. The case was settled out of court and Maxwell began retreating from public view.
She was no longer seen in public with Epstein after his 2008 conviction for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. For this, he was given an 18-month prison sentence, in a sweetheart plea deal that saw an investigation into his abuse of more than 30 underage girls (for which he could have been given a life sentence) shut down. He served just 13 months, much of it on day release.