Seeking to put a lid on a scandal showing little sign of abating, the Duke of York coyly referred yesterday to his ‘former association or friendship’ with Jeffrey Epstein.
Those who attended a glittering party in the Duke’s honour on December 2, 2010, in New York might be surprised at his choice of words.
Not least because it was thrown by convicted paedophile Epstein himself at his Upper East Side mansion, variously dubbed the House of Horror and the House of Depravity by the banker’s young victims.
As The Mail on Sunday revealed last weekend, it was at this mansion where Andrew came to the door to wave goodbye to Katherine Keating, daughter of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, on the afternoon of December 6.
The couple leave Epstein’s house midway through the Prince’s visit, at 11.30am on December 5
But his visit is understood to have begun four days earlier with the party attended by a Who’s Who of Manhattan’s media and showbusiness elite, including controversial film director Woody Allen, 83, and his wife Soon-Yi, 48.
The couple caused an outcry when they married in 1997 because Soon-Yi was adopted by Allen’s previous romantic partner, the actress Mia Farrow. Allen has spent decades vehemently denying accusations made by another stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, that he molested her as a child.
Allen and his wife visited the mansion on more than one occasion during Andrew’s trip.
Our exclusive picture shows them leaving Epstein’s house midway through the Prince’s visit, at 11.30am on December 5.
Epstein’s brass-embossed ‘JE’ initials are clearly visible on the doorway behind them.
Woody Allen, 83, (pictured) and his wife Soon-Yi, 48 caused an outcry when they married in 1997 because Soon-Yi was adopted by Allen’s previous romantic partner, the actress Mia Farrow
It was later that day that Andrew was infamously photographed strolling through Central Park alongside Epstein. That evening, Epstein was filmed leaving the mansion with an unidentified woman, as newly-released stills, far right, show.
They were spotted laughing and kissing as they walked away.
While there is no suggestion of any impropriety on the part of the Duke, the fact he was drawn into Epstein’s toxic world and spent nearly a week in his company will surely raise further questions about his judgment and the statement he released yesterday.
The December 2 dinner was held in the mansion’s second-floor dining room. TV anchor Katie Couric, once the highest-paid female presenter in the US, sat alongside comedian Chelsea Handler, a close friend of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston. Also there was George Stephanopoulos, a former White House communications director under President Bill Clinton turned £15 million-a-year ABC News host.
The soiree is believed to have also been attended by Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell and Epstein’s one-time girlfriend.
Multiple Epstein accusers have claimed that Ms Maxwell ‘procured’ girls for the perverted millionaire. She denies the allegations.
Guests would have walked past bizarre erotic artwork en route to the dining room with its gleaming mahogany table, including a painting of Bill Clinton in red heels and a blue dress, a reference to the outfit worn by Monica Lewinsky when she performed a sex act on him.
Jeffrey Epstein and unidentified lady left his Upper East Side mansion, variously dubbed the House of Horror and the House of Depravity by the banker’s young victims
In an interview published on Friday in the US political magazine Mother Jones, Epstein’s friend Stuart Pivar, a respected scientist, told how the financier loved to shock at his parties. Mr Pivar described one dinner party to which Epstein had invited a group of top scientists. ‘Jeffrey had no attention span whatsoever, he would interrupt the conversation and say things like, “What does that got to do with p***y?” That was his favorite expression. It was a subject changer.’
Whether Andrew heard Epstein utter those crass words remains unknown but the Prince, albeit unwittingly, was undoubtedly a ‘draw’ in New York where ‘you can buy anything except the caché of Royalty’, according to one woman who attended an Epstein party.
The socialite told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘There’s nothing socially mobile Manhattanites love more than brushing shoulders with a genuine member of the Royal Family. ‘Diana was a superstar. Prince Charles can command tens of thousands of dollars for tickets to a dinner. Jeffrey knew exactly what he was doing.
‘Who is going to turn down the chance to mingle with a real-life Prince at dinner, even if the guy hosting it has a conviction for something as terrible as child molestation?
The Prince has fiercely denied any wrongdoing and knowledge of Epstein’s crimes, but he has faced questions about how he could have missed a procession of beautiful young women visiting the mansion during his six-day stay
‘Royalty is stardust. People held their noses after Jeffrey was convicted but they were not going to turn down the chance to mingle with Royalty.’
The Prince has fiercely denied any wrongdoing and knowledge of Epstein’s crimes, but he has faced questions about how he could have missed a procession of beautiful young women visiting the mansion during his six-day stay.
‘There were girls coming and going the entire time Prince Andrew was inside the house,’ an eyewitness said.
‘It was happening in broad daylight. If the Prince didn’t see all the girls coming through that door, he was the only person on 71st Street who didn’t. It was flagrant.
‘At one point someone who looked like a royal protection officer came outside. Even if Andrew didn’t realise what was going on, you have to wonder why the people assigned to protect him didn’t say something?’
Many of Epstein’s victims have described how assaults took place in an upstairs massage room which was strictly off-limits to other house guests.
Some reports this week claimed Prince Andrew is now ‘fearful’ of returning to the US because he worries about being dragged into one of the multiple civil lawsuits being brought against Epstein’s £500 million estate. Lawyer Bradley Edwards, who represents several of the victims, said last night: ‘We would welcome the chance to speak to Prince Andrew under oath.’