Switch to previous version of Magzter
Who Was Jeffrey Epstein Calling ?

A close study of his circle— social, professional, transactional— reveals a damning portrait of elite New York.

Frank Rich

Perhaps, at long last, a serial rapist and pedophile may be brought to justice, more than a dozen years after he was first charged with crimes that have brutalized countless girls and women. But what won’t change is this: the cesspool of elites, many of them in New York, who allowed Jeffrey Epstein to flourish with impunity. For decades, important, influential, “serious” people attended Epstein’s dinner parties, rode his private jet, and furthered the fiction that he was some kind of genius hedge fund billionaire. How do we explain why they looked the other way, or flattered Epstein, even as they must have noticed he was often in the company of a young harem? Easy: They got something in exchange from him, whether it was a free ride on that airborne “Lolita Express,” some other form of monetary largesse, entrée into the extravagant celebrity soirées he hosted at his townhouse, or, possibly and harrowingly, a pound or two of female flesh.

If you watch Fox News, you will believe Bill Clinton was Epstein’s No. 1 pal and enabler. If you watch MSNBC, this scandal is usually all about Donald Trump. In fact, both presidents are guilty (at the very least) of giving Epstein cover and credibility. There are so many unanswered questions about Epstein, but one that looms over all of them is whether the bipartisan crowd who cleared a path for him will cover its tracks before we can get answers—not just Clinton and Trump and all those who drank at Epstein’s trough but also (among others) institutions like Harvard, Dalton, and the Council on Foreign Relations, or lawyers like the New York prosecutor Cy Vance Jr., whose office tried to downgrade Epstein’s sex-offender status; Kenneth Starr, who tried to pressure Republican Justice Department officials to keep the Epstein case from ever being prosecuted; and Alan Dershowitz, who tried to pressure the Pulitzer Prizes to shut out the Miami Herald for its epic investigative reporting that cracked open the case anew.

In 2015, Gawker published Epstein’s “little black book,” which had surfaced in court proceedings after a former employee took it from Epstein’s home around 2005 and later tried to sell it. He said that the book had been created by people who worked for Epstein and that it contained the names and phone numbers of more than 100 victims, plus hundreds of social contacts. Along with the logs of Epstein’s private plane, released in 2015, the book paints a picture of a man deeply enmeshed in the highest social circles.

Collectively, these documents constitute just a glance at the way society opened itself to Epstein in New York, Hollywood, and Palm Beach. In the weeks since his arrest, we have learned even more about the cliques he traveled in and the way they protected him. Though some observers have likened Epstein’s enigmatic rise as a glamorous social magnet to that of Jay Gatsby, a more appropriate archetype may be the fixer, sexual hedonist, and (ultimately disbarred) lawyer Roy Cohn. In the 1970s and early ’80s, Cohn was a favor broker for boldface chums as various as the top Democratic-machine politicians, the mobster Carmine “Lilo” Galante, Nancy Reagan, the proprietors of Studio 54, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Andy Warhol, the publishers Rupert Murdoch and Si Newhouse, Dershowitz, and the ambitious young real-estate developer Donald Trump.

This project is meant to catalogue how Epstein’s secure footing in elite spheres helped hide his crimes. It includes influential names listed in his black book, people he flew, funded, and schmoozed, along with others whose connections to him have drawn renewed attention. Certainly, not everyone cited here knew of everything he was up to; Malcolm Gladwell told New York, “I don’t remember much except being baffled as to who this Epstein guy was and why we were all on his plane.” Some said they never met Epstein at all or knew of him only through his ex-girlfriend and alleged accomplice, the socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. Others backed away from him after the scandal. But all of the influential people listed here were attached in some way to Epstein’s world. The sum of their names constitutes a more concrete accounting of Epstein’s power than could any accounting of his disputed wealth. Consider this a pointillist portrait of enablement that all too chillingly overlaps with a significant slice of the Establishment.


A guided tour of a perverse power list.



Epstein kept a photo of his friend Allen, the sexual pariah, on his wall and was photographed walking with him on the Upper East Side. They had more than a neighborhood in common. For years before his relationship with Mia Farrow, Allen had carried on with a 16-year-old girl he’d met at Elaine’s named Babi Christina Engelhardt. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she wondered if she was the inspiration for Manhattan, Allen’s 1979 movie about a man in his 40s who dates a highschool student, which was nominated for two Academy Awards. Engelhardt had sex with Allen more than 100 times, she says, sometimes with Farrow. “The whole thing was a game that was being operated solely by Woody so we never quite knew where we stood,” she said. Engelhardt went on to become Epstein’s assistant.

ALTHORP, CHARLES Princess Diana’s brother; .

ANDERSSON-DUBIN, DR. EVA Doctor and former Miss Sweden; . Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and her husband, billionaire hedge-funder Glenn Dubin, had Epstein over for Thanksgiving dinner in 2009, telling his probation officer they were “100 percent comfortable” with his being around their teenage daughter, Insider reported. She also created a foundation so Epstein could donate to her breast-cancer charity without attaching his name.


The Duke of York, looking for a friend .

EPSTEIN AND THE second son of Queen Elizabeth II have been friends for years and were introduced, it is generally thought, by Brit Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime aide-de-camp. Epstein has entertained the prince at his townhouse, where he would toss aside regal formalities and refer to him simply, and to English ears heretically, as “Andy.” Prince Andrew has had Epstein and Maxwell to shooting parties at Sandringham House, the queen’s country retreat in Norfolk. Theirs is an unusual alliance, given their stations—the born royal and the Brooklyn boy who made it big—but its disparities may be part of the point. “Jeffrey had Andrew put on a pair of sweatpants for the first time in his life,” a source told Vanity Fair about the two. “It was Jeffrey who taught Andrew how to relax.”

But their relationship, and their relaxing, took on darker shades as time went on. Andrew stood by Epstein after his release from a 13-month prison sentence and was the star attraction at the party he threw to reenter society. (Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos also came.) The British press wrung its hands with equal parts pain and glee when it was discovered that Sarah, the perennially indebted Duchess of York—Fergie to her Weight Watchers fans—had accepted £15,000 from Epstein to pay off one of her creditors, a deal brokered by her ex-husband, and that a former employee at Epstein’s Palm Beach manse had alleged in a sworn deposition that the duke was a longtime guest, enjoying massages and naked pool parties. (Prince Andrew denied ever attending, or any awareness of, naked pool parties.) The ongoing affiliation with Epstein likely contributed to the end of Andrew’s duties as a U.K. trade envoy. In 2015, Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged in a court filing that Andrew was one of the powerful friends to whom Epstein lent her out for sex. Buckingham Palace issued a statement emphatically denying the allegation. She hasn’t pressed her case further in court. But a photograph of the duke with his arm around a 17-year-old Roberts Giuffre, with Maxwell grinning beside them, didn’t help. - MATTHEW SCHNEIER

ASSAF, VITTORIO Restaurateur; . Started the Upper East Side institution Serafina.

BAND, DOUG Influence peddler; . A onetime White House intern who climbed his way to being Bill Clinton’s bag carrier, body man, fixer, and all-purpose gatekeeper, Band arranged for the former president to travel to Africa on Epstein’s 727 in 2002. Band would go on to help his boss found the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, a choice platform from which he launched his own lucrative favor trading corporate- advisory firm, Teneo. Throughout that time, he took a number of trips on Epstein’s plane and attended parties at his townhouse. Band resigned from his position at CGI in 2012; leaked emails later showed Band and Chelsea Clinton trading accusations of conflicts of interest in a war of influence over her parents. More recently, Band’s been teaching a “Public Service” class at NYU.

BALAZS, ANDRÉ Celebrity hotelier; .

BALDWIN, ALEC Actor; . Denies knowing Epstein, though he appears in the black book. Recently, Baldwin invited Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald reporter who resurfaced the Epstein story, to do a podcast.

BANNON, STEVE Former White House chief strategist. In August 2018, the New York Post reported that Bannon had been seen entering Epstein’s townhouse. Neither Bannon nor Epstein has commented on the substance of their meeting, but when Ivanka Trump condemned Roy Moore’s campaign in Alabama, saying, “There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” Bannon, who backed Moore, responded, “What about the allegations about her dad and that 13-year-old?” It was a clear reference to the woman who had accused Donald Trump and Epstein of raping her when she was 13.


The headmaster who offered entrée.

BARR WAS OUSTED SHORTLY BEFORE Epstein, 21 and without a college degree, showed up for his first day of work teaching math and physics at the Manhattan’s elite Dalton School in the early 1970s. Barr announced his resignation soon after, in February 1974: “He was disliked by the faculty, he was highly controversial, he hadn’t raised much money, he was very conservative,” said the board’s chairman. Barr’s leadership style was described as “authoritarian” and “undemocratic” at the time. Memorably, several former students told the New York Times that Epstein was overly familiar with teenage girls at the school. Donald’s son William would intersect with Epstein’s orbit while serving as a counsel at Kirkland and Ellis in 2009. The law firm secured Epstein his obscenely lenient 2007 non-prosecution deal, which the Justice Department is now reviewing. In July, Barr the son refused to recuse himself from the ongoing Epstein investigation.

BARRACK, TOM Trump adviser and private-equity manager; . In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff wrote that Trump, Epstein, and Barrack were a “set of nightlife musketeers” in the ’80s and ’90s.

BERGER, SANDY National-security adviser for Bill Clinton; .

BERGGRUEN, NICOLAS Billionaire investor; .

BERKMAN, BILL New York businessman; . A wealthy executive whose family established the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, Berkman was sued in 2014 by his administrative assistant, who said she was forced to read emails Berkman had sent to a colleague containing “pictures of random and unsuspecting women on the street”—that is, creepshots. (The suit was settled.)

BIRLEY, ROBIN Nightclub impresario; . Owned the club where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had their first date.

BISMARCK, DEBONNAIRE VON Countess; . Listed as Debbie in the black book.

BISMARCK, LEOPOLD VON Count; . Yes, those von Bismarcks. His nickname, Bola, was listed in the black book.

BISMARCK, VANESSA VON Heriess and publishing entrepreneur; .

BLACK, CONRAD Media mogul; . He’s perhaps best known for being sentenced to 42 months in prison for fraud, then writing a book about Trump and receiving a pardon. Vicky Ward, who profiled Epstein for Vanity Fair in 2003, said Epstein heavily leaned on Black, who is her ex-husband’s uncle (and was her ex-husband’s then-boss), to try to exert his influence on Ward.

BLACK, LEON Private-equity tycoon; . The billionaire co-founder of Apollo Global Management and chairman of MoMA, Black made Epstein the director of his family foundation in 2001. The foundation continued to list Epstein as director on its tax forms until 2012, four years after he had pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida. The foundation now says that Epstein resigned in 2007 and that his name continued to appear on its rolls owing to a “recording error.” In 2011, he was listed as an investor in Environmental Solutions Worldwide, a Pennsylvania company, alongside several people close to Black, including his four children. Black himself was seen with Epstein at a movie screening just a few months after Epstein finished probation in 2010, and Epstein was spotted at a party at Black’s home in the Hamptons as recently as 2015.

BLACK, ROY An Epstein lawyer. The trial attorney and legal analyst’s client roster has included Justin Bieber, Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, and Rush Limbaugh. Black is perhaps best known for representing William Kennedy Smith against rape charges in Palm Beach in 1991. (The Kennedy nephew was acquitted.) In 2005, Black played the “managing partner” on NBC’s The Law Firm, a knockoff of The Apprentice for up-and-coming lawyers.

BLAINE, DAVID Magician; . Blaine put on a private show for Epstein’s dinner guests in 2003, doing card tricks for the likes of Sergey Brin, Mort Zuckerman, and Bill Clinton aide Doug Band. The dinner was organized by Ghislaine Maxwell and included a group of young women who were introduced as Victoria’s Secret models.

BLAIR, TONY Former British prime minister; .

BLOOMBERG, MICHAEL Billionaire, privatejet enthusiast, former mayor; .

BOLKIAH, HASSANAL Sultan of Brunei. Epstein had at least one meeting with the sultan when he traveled to Brunei in 2002 with Bill Clinton. Bolkiah and his brother are famous for their lavish spending, including a collection of 2,500 cars and a $1.5 billion palace. Bolkiah was once sued by Miss USA 1997, who claimed she had been held as a sex slave. The suit was dismissed on the grounds that Bolkiah had sovereign immunity.

BOND, ANNABELLE British socialite; .

BONOMI, ANDREA Italian businessman; . The chairman and founder of Investindustrial was a key character in the Paradise Papers international tax-shelter scandal.

BORRICO, MICHAEL Long Island contractor; . Described by Social Life magazine as the “ambassador of the all-important Hamptons polo culture,” Borrico is known for hosting polo matches at his estate in Water Mill.

BOURKE, FREDERIC A founder of Dooney & Bourke; . Bourke went to prison for a scheme to bribe government officials in Azerbaijan.

BOWLES, HAMISH European editor-at-large for Vogue; .

BRANDOLINI, MURIEL Interior designer; . Her clients have included Matt Lauer and the Crown Prince and Princess of Greece.

BRANSON, RICHARD Founder of Virgin Group; . Like Epstein, Branson enjoys entertaining on a private island.

BRIATORE, FLAVIO Italian millionaire businessman; . A friend of Trump, a convicted card cheat, and an accused Formula 1 race fixer, Briatore was a longtime fugitive in the Virgin Islands.

BROCKMAN, JOHN Agent for scientific “freethinkers”; .

WHAT SEEMS NEW, IN flipping through the reams of society photos of perhaps the world’s most prolific sexual predator that have been circulating over the past few weeks, is not the powerful and the beautiful who surrounded Epstein, but the intellectuals— the Richard Dawkinses, the Daniel Dennetts, the Steven Pinkers. All men, of course. But the group selfies probably shouldn’t have been a surprise—documents of an age in which every millionaire doesn’t just fancy himself a philosopher-king but expects to be treated as such, and every public intellectual wants to be seen as a kind of celebrity.

Cultural shifts like these require visionaries, networkers, salespeople. Brockman is one. A Warhol Factory kid turned freelance philosopher of science turned literary agent to Dawkins and Dennett and Pinker (and many others), in the 1980s he formed a casual salon of like-minded scientists and futurists that came to be known as the Reality Club, a knock against the poststructuralism then dominant in the academy. In the 1990s, he rebranded it as the Edge Foundation, an organization whose central event was an annual online symposium devoted to a single, broad question. In 2000, it was “What is today’s most important underreported story?” In 2006, “What is your dangerous idea?”

Epstein was a regular contributor, and his plane—to judge from the photographs, at least—was an especially appealing way for other contributors to get to ted. They could also catch Epstein at Harvard, where so many of them taught and where he became so prolific a donor that one whole academic program seemed to be run like his private Renaissance ateliers. Epstein had long described himself as a “scientific philanthropist,” and in a press release put out by the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation announcing its “substantial backing” of Edge, he called it “the world’s smartest think tank.”

Many in Brockman’s Edge community are, or were, inarguably significant figures in the American intellectual Establishment: Freeman Dyson, Jared Diamond, Craig Venter, John Horgan, Paul Bloom (to name a random but representative sample). They are also among the gods and heroes of the Trump-era internet community of “freethinkers,” whom Eric Weinstein, the venture capitalist and regular Edge contributor, memorably called “the intellectual dark web.” The name suggests a self-glamorizing style of dangerous discourse, and as soon as the community was identified, it was criticized as revanchist, an effort to reopen areas of intellectual inquiry—about innate differences between the races, say, or the genders—now considered problematic, at a minimum. But to listen to the IDW warriors themselves— talking about the “war on free speech” as though their universities had sent assassins their way rather than tenured chairs— their crusade seems motivated just as much by a thin-skinned sense of their own world-historical significance. They were special people, deserving of special acclaim and, of course, special privileges.

Many contributions to Edge were plausibly the products of genuinely special minds. Epstein’s were not. In 2008, the year he went to jail for prostitution, the prompt was “What have you changed your mind about?” Epstein replied, “The question presupposes a well defined ‘you’ and an implied ability that is under ‘your’ control to change your ‘mind.’ The ‘you’ I now believe is distributed amongst others (family friends, in hierarchal structures), i.e. suicide bombers, believe their sacrifice is for the other parts of their ‘you.’ The question carries with it an intention that I believe is out of one’s control. My mind changed as a result of its interaction with its environment. Why? Because it is a part of it.”

“Jeffrey has the mind of a physicist,” the Harvard professor Martin Nowak has said, incredibly. But what he really did have was the life of a very rich person—unable to see any world he felt unqualified to enter and surrounded by too many people enamored with his money to ever hear the word no. DAVID WALLACE-WELLS

BRONFMAN JR., EDGAR Executive; . The former Warner Music Group CEO, son of the late Seagram’s CEO Edgar Bronfman Sr., is related to the NXIVM-sex-cult Bronfmans. His son has a child with pop star M.I.A.

BRUNEL, JEAN-LUC Model scout; . Brunel was accused in court testimony of having used his agency to supply Epstein with girls. (He was not charged.) He also has a long history of allegations that he had abused his fashion-world position. In 1988, he was the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation alleging that he and a fellow agent sexually assaulted nearly two dozen models. He denied the claims but later told Model author Michael Gross, “You get laid tonight with a model, is that a crime?” In 2005, Brunel co-founded the Mc2 modeling agency; Epstein invested $1 million, according to a 2010 deposition.

BUCK, JOAN JULIET Fashion editor; . In 2003, Buck met Maxwell at a fashion party at a New York City boutique. Buck had recently moved on from her seven-year tenure as the editor of Paris Vogue and was writing for its American counterpart and living in New Mexico. She was a lifelong resident of a rarefied social world. Maxwell, a regular on that particular circuit, quickly made a connection. “Oh, Jeffrey’s got a ranch in Santa Fe, blah blah blah,” Buck recently remembered their conversation going. She gave Maxwell her Santa Fe number and later asked a friend about Epstein and New Mexico. “His ranch?” the friend replied. “As we say in Texas, all hat, no cattle.”

BURKLE, RON Supermarket magnate; . Burkle took what were described as humanitarian trips to Africa with Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private Boeing 727. According to a 2008 Vanity Fair feature about the former president, “Burkle’s usual means of transport is the custom-converted Boeing 757 that Clinton calls ‘Ron Air’ and that Burkle’s own circle of young aides privately refer to as ‘Air Fuck One.’ ”

BUSHNELL, CANDACE Columnist who inspired Sex and the City; .

BUSSON, ARPAD French financier; . During a custody battle with ex Uma Thurman, her lawyer asked Busson, a prominent hedge-funder, if he had ever said he was “addicted to prostitutes.” (He said no.)

CALACANIS, JASON Businessman; . An investor in Uber, Calacanis was a fixture in the early-aughts New York tech scene as the founder and editor of Silicon Alley Reporter. (“I can’t tell you how many propositions I get, it’s absolutely insane,” he told the Observer in 2000.) In 2014, Vice awarded him Most Offensive Tweet of the Year for describing as racist the idea of white privilege.


CAMPBELL, NAOMI Supermodel; .

CANDY, NICHOLAS AND CHRISTIAN British property-developer brothers; .

CARTER, GRAYDON Former editor of Vanity Fair. According to journalist Vicky Ward, he killed portions of a 2003 story that accused Epstein of paedophilia after an office visit from Epstein. (Carter says there wasn’t enough on the-record sourcing.) “I didn’t invent the system. I just lived by the system,” he said when The New York Times Magazine questioned him about the story last week.

CECIL, AURELIA PR chairman; . Allegedly the former girlfriend of Prince Andrew.

CECIL, MARK Hedge-funder; . Has hosted Prince William and Kate Middleton at his villa in Mustique.

Continue Reading with Magzter GOLD


Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines


July 22 - August 4, 2019