It’s one of the most extraordinary disappearing acts since Lord Lucan vanished into thin air after leaving the family nanny bludgeoned to death in the basement of his Belgravia home.
How on earth is Ghislaine Maxwell —57-year-old socialite, fixer and alleged ‘madame’ to one of the most high-profile child sex abusers in history — keeping her location secret?
The woman at the centre of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, who once revelled in her connections with the rich and famous, has been virtually invisible since the autumn of 2016, when the American authorities began re-examining hundreds of criminal complaints against her former boyfriend.
In the years during which Roberts was abused by Epstein, she accompanied Maxwell (pictured in a burger bar in LA) on at least 23 flights to various corners of the world
In 2017, lawyers acting for her in one of several messy court cases told a judge that they had no idea where she was. Though they thought she might be in London, the attorneys claimed to have no current address.
A New York townhouse where she’d previously lived had been sold, as growing numbers of women came forward to accuse her of helping to facilitate Epstein’s appalling crimes. Several have told how she recruited them as teenagers to visit the paedophile’s various homes to perform erotic massages.
At least four, including Virginia Roberts, the woman who claims she was told to sleep with Prince Andrew at just 17, have alleged in court papers that Maxwell personally took part in the abuse.
In the years during which Roberts was abused by Epstein, she accompanied Maxwell on at least 23 flights to various corners of the world.
Roberts (now Giuffre) alleged that Maxwell ‘had a viciousness to her’.
How on earth is Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured with prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein at Ascot)—57-year-old socialite, fixer and alleged ‘madame’ to one of the most high-profile child sex abusers in history — keeping her location secret?
In Monday’s bombshell BBC Panorama interview, Roberts wept and said Maxwell told her she ‘had to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey’. A ‘disgusting’ sexual encounter followed, she claimed.
Meanwhile, further proof appeared yesterday that Maxwell remained close to Andrew long after the Prince had supposedly ended his friendship with Epstein in New York in 2010.
Five years after the men’s infamous stroll in Central Park, a leaked email, sent at 5.50am on January 3, 2015, reveals that Andrew wrote to Maxwell: ‘Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.’
The socialite replied: ‘Have some info — call me when you have a moment.’
And as if that were not embarrassing enough, new photographs have emerged of Maxwell joining a grinning Andrew and Epstein at Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day in 2000.
Another woman, Jennifer Araoz, says in a lawsuit that Maxwell ‘participated in and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting his sex-trafficking ring’.
A third, Sarah Ransome, has claimed she threatened to assault her if she refused to provide sexual services. A fourth, Maria Farmer, has claimed Maxwell and Epstein both ‘sexually assaulted me against my will’.
Maxwell has consistently denied these and many other allegations in occasional court filings or legal statements, although the nature of her rebuttals has changed. In 2015, for example, she hired London law firm Devonshires, who told the Mail that all Epstein’s crimes ‘were committed long after Ghislaine Maxwell ceased to have dealings with him’.
However, it’s now a matter of record that she was organising Esptein’s social calendar long after he’d not just committed his crimes but had also been imprisoned. For example, in 2010, she organised Prince Andrew’s now-notorious visit to the convicted sex offender’s New York mansion.
‘CASUALLY DRESSED IN BURGER BAR IN LA’
A few days after Epstein’s prison suicide in August, the New York Post claimed a ‘scoop’ — a picture of a casually dressed Ghislaine Maxwell in a burger restaurant in Los Angeles.
The newspaper claimed she had been reading a book called The Secret Lives And Deaths Of CIA Operatives days earlier, when a member of the public had recognised her and asked to take a photo.
So far, so intriguing. But the yarn started to fall apart amid mounting evidence that the image was a crude fake.
First, it emerged that the photo’s metadata was tagged with ‘Meadowgate’, the name of a local media company owned by Leah Saffian, a long-standing friend and occasional PR adviser to Ghislaine.
The dog next to her feet in the photos also appears to be Saffian’s dog, Dexter, suggesting that she, rather than a random fellow diner, had taken the shot.
Then questions were asked about whether the photo actually pre-dated Epstein’s arrest. Sharp-eyed analysts spotted a poster for Good Boys, a newly released movie, at a nearby bus shelter.
But on the date the photo was purportedly taken, that bus shelter wasn’t carrying the advert.
The agency that owns the site said an advert for a hospital had been there since late July.
Last week, court papers were released in which Maxwell admitted for the first time publicly that she had, in fact, been employed to hire young women to provide Epstein with a daily massage during the years that the abuse occurred. However, she continues to deny deliberately procuring women for him to sleep with.
Given the extent of the FBI investigation into Epstein and his co-conspirators, it’s unthinkable that Maxwell will not at some stage face serious scrutiny from the forces of law and order. It was reported last month that she is willing to help the FBI with their inquiries in return for some form of plea deal.
Whether that strategy will work remains to be seen.
Spencer Kuvin, an attorney representing three women, said that he believes the FBI is trying to establish a watertight case before arresting her.
To do so, it will need to track her down, a task that has so far eluded the world’s media. The only confirmed sighting of Maxwell since she dropped off the radar three years ago came in June when she visited London to take part in a charity motor rally. Details of the visit only emerged last month, when Prince Andrew mentioned it in his Newsnight interview.
Investigations revealed she was received in his private quarters at Buckingham Palace with four companions, staying for two hours. The following morning, she set off on the rally to Geneva, sharing a car with chum Nettie Mason, wife of Pink Floyd star Nick Mason.
That, of course, was six months ago. Former friends and family members have maintained a wall of silence. Calls and emails have remained unanswered, and the only person known to successfully made contact in recent days is her lawyer Jeffrey Paglucia, who appeared in court for her last week.
To perform such a vanishing act in an age when we are generally caught on camera up to 300 times a day is quite a feat, particularly if you are at the centre of one of the most sensational news stories of the year. So where is she? Here, the Mail investigates just some of the potential locations.
Beaches of Israel
The Maxwell family’s ties to Israel were forged by her father Robert, one of the most powerful media magnates — and most notorious fraudsters — in modern history.
A lifelong campaigner for Israel, who had lost most of his family during the Holocaust, Robert spent his business career investing in the nation’s economy. Even after his epic criminality had come to light, he was given what was in effect a state funeral in Jerusalem, and buried on the Mount of Olives.
Ghislaine, his favourite child, is well-acquainted with the country. She visited often, having first spent time on a kibbutz after leaving school and was allegedly ‘ostracised’ after embarking on an affair with a swimming pool lifeguard.
Her impeccable network of contacts in Israel allowed Epstein to draw powerful men such as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak into his starry circle of friends.
After Epstein’s death in August this year, rumours surfaced that he and Ghislaine had been providing Israeli intelligence services with compromising (and potentially valuable) material about powerful associates. That led to speculation that she was being sheltered in the country, which also has the metropolitan party scene she relishes.
Little corroborating evidence came to light and it is said that the suggestion she is in Israel — put about by a mix of Right–wing American publications and the Iranian regime’s Tehran Times — are said to be little more than a conspiracy theory peddled by anti-Semites.
As the case of U.S. intelligence-agency whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated, the Kremlin is happy to offer sanctuary to dubious Western fugitives caught up in high-profile criminal cases.
Putin and his associates, however, generally want something useful in return for sheltering them.
Moscow is already the home of John Mark Dougan, a former sheriff’s deputy from Palm Beach who worked on the 2005 investigation into Epstein’s child sex crimes. He fled to the country, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S., after being caught up in a subsequent hacking inquiry.
Dougan’s records of the Epstein investigation, which he retains, are believed to be of great interest to Russia. Indeed, The Sunday Times reported that MI6 is concerned they might contain compromising material involving Prince Andrew.
Maxwell is a good friend of Andrew. As such, she could make for a spectacular ‘asset’ and friends have reportedly wondered if she has fled to the country.
There are unconfirmed rumours that BBC staff working on Monday’s Panorama documentary The Prince And The Epstein Scandal expected it to contain an extended segment on Ghislaine Maxwell by reporter Darragh MacIntyre, who visited Moscow after being tipped off that she was there. However, it is believed they failed to track her down.
Ghislaine owns a £3.7 million mews house in Belgravia, scene of the notorious 2001 photo of Prince Andrew placing an arm creepily around the naked midriff of Epstein’s 17-year-old victim Virginia Roberts. However, neighbours haven’t seen her there for almost a decade and it appears to be occupied by a tenant.
The Land Registry lists the property as held in Maxwell’s name ‘care of’ Malcolm Christopher Grumbridge, a lawyer who has acted for the family and works for the upmarket Hogarth Health Group in Chiswick. Like most people linked to Ghislaine, he is reluctant to discuss her whereabouts.
Ghislaine owns a £3.7 million mews house in Belgravia, scene of the notorious 2001 photo (pictured) of Prince Andrew placing an arm creepily around the naked midriff of Epstein’s 17-year-old victim Virginia Roberts
Ghislaine’s brothers Ian and Kevin are resident in the UK, though neither was particularly close to her, and she also has links to Oxford, where she grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a mansion leased from the council, and attended Oxford University. But rumours that she might be staying at a flat in the city purportedly owned by chum Tania Rotherwick have also come to naught.
Companies House has previously listed her address as a cottage in Wiltshire, which is the home of Catherine Vaughan-Edwards, a former trustee of the TerraMar Project — a now-defunct environmental charity Ghislaine set up in 2012 — who says the property was used merely as a mailing address.
As Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs famously demonstrated, the South American country provides a sunny bolthole for people seeking to stay out of reach of the UK and U.S. justice systems.
It was, therefore, with great excitement that Sky News reported in October that Ghislaine had been spotted on the Brazilian riviera with Jean-Luc Brunel, a French model agent accused of trafficking large numbers of young girls to Epstein.
The broadcaster claimed ‘information gathered by a former U.S. police officer’ indicated that Brunel’s mobile phone had been traced to an upmarket holiday resort called the Infinity Blue Resort and Spa in the seaside city of Santa Catarina.
At the same time, it alleged, Maxwell’s U.S. mobile phone was also connected to a local phone network. However, Sky failed to find the pair.
Ghislaine was born in Paris, to a French mother, and there have been unconfirmed reports that she had travelled to the South of France after Epstein’s death.
One alleged sighting was in the village of Meyreuil, in Provence, where her older sister Christine has lived with her American physicist husband. But their property had been sold in 2015 and former neighbours said they had only seen Ghislaine once during the years the couple lived there.
Meanwhile, her model agent friend Jean-Luc Brunel was photographed at a country club outside Paris in June. Since then, he has not been seen publicly.
Recent years have seen Maxwell quietly holed up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, north of Boston, with tech company boss Scott Borgerson.
It is believed she moved to a £3 million oceanfront mansion surrounded by several acres of private woodland in 2016, having allegedly persuaded Borgerson, 43, to abandon his wife and young children for her.
They reportedly owned a yacht and several expensive cars, and were often spotted walking their dog along footpaths. It seems that few locals were aware of Ghislaine’s real identity, or her links to the unravelling child sex scandal.
Days after Epstein’s arrest, pictures emerged of Maxwell’s sister Christine packing bags at a hotel near the couple’s home. However, she refused to answer questions about what she was doing there.
Borgerson denied that his ‘former friend’ Ghislaine was in residence at the house, saying ‘my private life is my private life’ and he hasn’t been seen there since.