Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced press baron Robert, is the person who knew Jeffrey Epstein and his secrets best.
A socialite who once revelled in her connections with the rich and famous, she has now been found and arrested in New Hampshire having been virtually invisible since the autumn of 2016 – having only been spotted once at a burger restaurant in California last year.
The 58-year-old, who has been accused of being a ‘madam’ and ‘fixer’ for Epstein, will now be hauled to court to tell all she knows about her relationship with the billionaire paedophile before he killed himself awaiting trial for sex crimes in August last year.
Maxwell has previously been accused of recruiting and ‘training’ underage girls for Epstein – her benefactor and sometime boyfriend – to abuse, while often joining in the abuse herself.
The pair went everywhere together, moving through high-class circles that included the likes of Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton, and is said to have been the one person Epstein treated as an equal.
Virginia Roberts, Epstein’s most prominent accuser, says it was Ghislaine who first approached her about working for him as a ‘traveling masseuse’ while she was taking a break during a shift at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in 1999.
She says Ghislaine participated in the first time Epstein sexually abused her, and was in charge of managing several girls he routinely assaulted – referring to herself as a ‘mother hen’.
Ghislaine Maxwell was known as Jeffrey Epstein’s closest confidante. The pair dated for a time in the 1990s before settling into a ‘close friendship’ that his accusers say included her recruiting young girls for him to abuse, and sometimes joining in (pictured, Ghislaine and Epstein, right, with Donald Trump and Melania at Mar-a-Lago in 2000)
Ghislaine was a wealthy socialite, moving in elite circles until she virtually disappeared from public view in 2016 after Virginia Roberts – Epstein’s main accuser – filed a lawsuit against her (pictured, Epstein and Ghislaine in New York in 2015)
Roberts says it was Ghislaine who introduced her to Prince Andrew at Tramp nightclub the evening they allegedly had sex and told her what to do with the prince. She also appears in the infamous photo of the two together, which was taken inside Maxwell’s London townhouse.
Born of a tyrannical, dishonest but charming father whom she never deserted, Ghislaine was inevitably going to stand by her man Jeffrey Epstein, even when he killed himself awaiting another child sex trial but her silence will be tested by the FBI.
And her arrest will certainly shake Prince Andrew, a friend of 20 years or more, and raise concerns at Buckingham Palace that a fresh storm is heading their way.
She was said to be ‘madly in love’ with Epstein following their meeting shortly after Maxwell died after falling off his yacht, but the paedophile who killed himself last year is said to have shunned marriage with her because he wanted to sleep with other women.
For years she followed Epstein between his mansions in the US and the US Virgin Islands was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world, where he procured girls for himself and his famous friends.
He allegedly did this with the help of his ever-loyal friend Ghislaine, according to Virginia Roberts, who claims she was made Epstein’s ‘sex slave’ and forced to sleep with Prince Andrew three times when she was 17.
Maxwell operated as part-girlfriend, part-employee, orchestrating Epstein’s social life. Epstein supported Maxwell and helped her remain in the social position she had grown accustom to from her upbringing.
She has even been described as the ‘madam of the house’ by a former housekeeper at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Hitherto, she has always emphatically denied misconduct.
‘She inherited her father’s slightly bombastic charisma, and is one of those people who successfully trades on the fact that she knows lots of other fancy people, including Clintons, Kennedys and various royals,’ said one acquaintance.
In 1991, Robert Maxwell drowned in mysterious circumstances after falling off his yacht named the Lady Ghislaine – and it was his death that led to her meeting Epstein later that year as she fled to America to avoid scrutiny in her native Britain.
Soon after the newspaper tycoon’s dearth Ghislaine caused outrage by being photographed boarding Concorde while at the same time publicly speaking of her financial struggle — her father, she lamented, had left her only an annual £80,000 trust fund to live off.
Increasingly, she was seen to be resolutely unsympathetic to Maxwell’s victims and, astonishingly, sought to defend her father’s behaviour even after it became clear he had defrauded so many of his employees.
Before long, there was the inevitable speculation that she was living off stolen money and Ghislaine was said to have taken to wearing a disguise in Britain to avoid recognition.
But it was a different story in America, where Ghislaine found she could do as she pleased — and over the years she has taken full advantage of this attitude.
Maxwell is who introduced Prince Andrew to Epstein and who facilitated the 2001 night out in London (pictured) when Andrew allegedly had sex with Virginia Giuffre Roberts, then 17. He denies they ever met
Ghislaine managed to manoeuvre herself into the very heart of New York’s business and Hollywood elite. And she did it with the American billionaire financier friend Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein took Ghislaine under his wing when she arrived in New York a broken and lonely woman and helped her not only back on to her feet but also to become one of the most sought-after members of the city’s social elite.
She was instantly attracted to him — a man as flamboyant, dominant and rich as the father she had just lost.
In no time, she was appearing at Epstein’s side as the ‘celebrity’ guest at the opening of a glamorous Manhattan restaurant. She was also a regular guest at his Upper East Side apartment. Very soon, a friend reported that ‘her dependence [on Epstein] is pretty total’.
At one time, there were even rumours they would marry, but they never did and she saw him has a father figure to replace the one she had lost.
Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she ‘worshiped rich, domineering men’
‘Ghislaine floated in and out of the house with the keys, and even though Jeffrey told me they didn’t have a sexual relationship, she’d drop under her breath that she was sleeping in his bed from time to time’ one Epstein ex-girlfriend told Vanity Fair.
The pair partied with Donald Trump and Melania at Mar-A-Lago and threw lavish dinners at Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse, attended by Woody Allen, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, David Blaine and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, among others.
The jet-setting financier also hobnobbed with Trump allies Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin and Rudy Giuliani at a Hamptons film screening in 2010, just two months after his release from prison in Florida.
Epstein had bragged to a New York Times columnist about having ‘dirt’ on his rich and powerful associates – and rumours of a black book of secrets on all of them – and Ms Maxwell was said to be intrinsically involved
In 2008, Epstein was offered a secret deal to avoid federal prosecution and pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting an underage girl for sex.
As part of that deal, federal prosecutors agreed not to charge ‘any potential co-conspirators of Epstein’.
He served 13 months in county jail in Palm Beach, Florida and registered as a sex offender. During his sentence, he was allowed to work from his office most days.
The deal was cut by Alex Acosta, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He resigned from his current role as Trump’s Secretary of Labor in the fallout from the Epstein case.
On July 6 2019, FBI investigators broke down the doors of Epstein’s $77 million New York home after he was arrested on his private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey following a flight from Paris.
A search of Epstein’s home turned up hundreds of pictures of nude women, some of them minors, along with cash, diamonds, valuable art and an expired Austrian passport with Epstein’s face but someone else’s name, claiming Saudi Arabia as place of residence, according Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Maxwell has not been seen since last August when she was photographed at an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles, ten days after Epstein’s suicide
Maxwell is alleged to be one of the main players in a network of recruiters and enablers who provided Epstein with those underage girls to sexually abuse before he took his life in a New York prison cell last year.
Ghislaine is Maxwell’s youngest child. She attended the boarding school Marlborough College in Wiltshire, England, a favorite of the British elite, and went on to study at Oxford University.
In her twenties, she was a well-known face on London’s social scene and founded the Kit Kat Club, an alternative to the old-school-tie network for high-powered women.
She worked for her father’s newspaper, The European, and as the director of Oxford United Football Club while her father was owner.
The first report of their friendship was a footnote in a newspaper diary column from early 1999. ‘Prince Andrew keeps interesting company these days,’ it began. ‘He’s just attended a dinner hosted by Ghislaine Maxwell.’
By April 2000 Ghislaine and Andrew were spotted sharing one of several intimate lunch dates together. They sat hand in hand while dining on lobster salad – she sipped a champagne cocktail – at Nello restaurant on New York’s Madison Avenue.
His police bodyguard watched discreetly and fell in step behind Andrew once he had paid the £90 bill in cash. Miss Maxwell left separately in order to avoid the paparazzi.
Maxwell is a long-time friend of Prince Andrew (pictured together in 2009) and was the one who introduced him to Epstein, with whom he became close friends
But, she and the Duke of York were not in a romantic relationship. Indeed, as his new found confidante and social fixer she was far, far more important to him than that.
Former friends and acquaintances spoke of Miss Maxwell’s enigmatic personality and the similarities between her relationships with her fraudster father and Epstein. At Marlborough public school and later at Oxford she was a member of a powerful clique. ‘She was her Daddy’s girl,’ recalls one school contemporary. ‘But you could not quite work out what made her tick.’
After her father’s death when the extent of his corruption was exposed, Miss Maxwell retreated to America where ‘she grew a second skin and an icy resolve’, says a friend. There she met Epstein, eight years her senior, whose fabulous wealth was mirrored by the obscurity of its origins and current business dealings.
‘The moment you saw them together you could see Epstein was her father substitute,’ says one friend. ‘A powerful older man. A second Robert Maxwell.’
Together they partied with the Kennedys and the Clintons and Ghislaine boasted that she was particularly close to President Bill.
In February 2000, Andrew and Miss Maxwell flew from New York to Florida on a private jet belonging to one Donald Trump. They stayed at the future president’s resort, Mar-a-Lago. The prince danced the night away at a club, flirting with a number of women and buying a £300 bottle of champagne. Then he flew back to New York with Miss Maxwell, where they attended a Ralph Lauren fashion show.
Soon it was time for Andrew to repay their hospitality. In June 2000, both Epstein and Miss Maxwell were among guests at a lavish party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen. The Dance of the Decades was to mark Andrew’s recent 40th birthday, Princess Anne’s 50th and Princess Margaret’s impending 70th, as well as Prince William’s 18th.
Months later, Miss Maxwell and the prince attended a very different calibre of event in Manhattan that autumn – a ‘hookers and bondage’ party for which Ghislaine dressed as a streetwalker. The prince simply looked dishevelled in a suit.
The closeness of the relationship was confirmed when, in December, Andrew threw a ‘surprise’ 40th birthday party for Miss Maxwell at Sandringham. Epstein was in attendance. Within a matter of months he and Miss Maxwell appeared to have become the prince’s closest friends. It was a catastrophic error of judgment.
His ex-wife and the palace were by then voicing concerns which grew when Andrew left the Royal Family’s Christmas gathering at Sandringham to join Miss Maxwell and Epstein in Phuket, Thailand, for New Year. There he was photographed sunbathing on a luxury yacht surrounded by topless young women.
Ghislaine Maxwell, circled, pictured at the wedding of Chelsea Clinton in 2010
Maxwell is pictured meeting Princess Diana in 1984. Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener’s son, to society
How far Ghislaine Maxwell was prepared to go to help Epstein, the man who bankrolled her fabulous lifestyle, is now a criminal matter. Today for the second time in her life she faces hard questions about the ‘father figure’ who died amid scandal. Buckingham Palace must quake at the prospect.
A tranche of court papers relating to a libel case brought by Virginia Roberts against Miss Maxwell for calling her a liar were released on Friday. Among the allegations were that the prince fondled an underage girl called Johanna Sjoberg in Epstein’s Manhattan apartment and slept with Miss Roberts while on a night out with the financier in London.
Thousands more legal documents containing allegations of sexual activity by Epstein and his cronies with girls who were underage in the US have yet to be released.
One wonders at the conversation over the breakfast table yesterday morning at Balmoral Castle, where Andrew is staying with the Queen. For all his faults and weaknesses, he was said to have been her favourite child but indulgence can only stretch so far, surely. For Andrew not only became part of the Epstein-Maxwell social scene in America, he facilitated their entry into royal circles. On at least one occasion the Queen was unwitting hostess to a rapacious paedophile and the woman who is alleged to have been his procurer.
In one of the court documents released last week, an alleged victim claimed that Miss Maxwell had ‘recruited her under the guise of a legitimate assistant position, but asked her to perform sexual massages for Epstein’.
Elsewhere in the documents, it is claimed the then underage Virginia Roberts, Miss Maxwell and Epstein were ‘all intimate together’ and Miss Maxwell referred to one of the young girls as her ‘slave’.
One of seven children, they all struggled to escape their father’s dark legacy.
In a rare interview some years ago, Ghislaine’s sister Christine gave a fascinating insight into what it was like to have been one of Maxwell’s children. She told of the ritual humiliation he visited on his children at Sunday lunch, which was ‘torture’. ‘He was dreadful to us, in front of friends, boyfriends — it was unbearable. Everything was black and white for him: you were with him or against him.’
It emerged that his newspaper empire was built on the proceeds of epic criminality, which had seen him defraud its pension fund of almost half a billion pounds.
Vilified in the UK, where Robert Maxwell’s victims were angered by the lavish lifestyle his family had enjoyed at their expense, his youngest daughter relocated to New York, where she took up residence in a small apartment, and set about re-inventing herself.
Now Maxwell has been taken into custody, said FBI spokesman Marty Feely.
An indictment made public on Thursday said Maxwell facilitated Epstein’s crimes by ‘helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse’ girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse.
Epstein killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Ghislaine is the daughter of disgraced press baron Robert and Elizabeth Maxwell (pictured together at Cannes Film Festival in France in 1987), described as a tyrannical, dishonest but charming father whom she never deserted
Maxwell was accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex.
The indictment included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury.
Maxwell has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her ‘absolute rubbish’.
Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with the Duke of York at her London townhouse.
Andrew denied her story.
Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the ‘highest-ranking employee’ of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise.
She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.
The indictment mirrored many of the claims previously made in civil lawsuits against Maxwell.
It said that as early as 1994, Maxwell would ‘entice and groom’ minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families.
‘Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein. In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,’ the indictment said.
The indictment said Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct.
At the time the crimes occurred, Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and was also paid by him to manage his various properties, according to the indictment, which included a photograph of Epstein with his arm around Maxwell and his head nuzzling hers.
Epstein was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was free a little after a year in prison.
At the time, a federal prosecutor in Florida signed off on an agreement, initially filed in secret, that barred the federal government from charging ‘any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.’
Federal prosecutors in New York have argued that they are not bound by that agreement.