Not a happy story – New York Daily News
When my book on Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell was published two years ago, some of my Jewish friends praised my reporting for telling the disturbing story of this couple that I called “predatory Bonnie and Clyde”. And those same friends couldn’t help but acknowledge that in their view, Epstein brought shame to the Jewish community.
Comparisons have been drawn to Bernie Madoff – and to Harvey Weinstein, a former pal of Epstein until they fell out with a young woman.
When Epstein was arrested in 2019 on federal charges of sex trafficking minors in New York and Florida, only to later kill himself behind bars at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial, an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported. writes that Leslie Wexner, the founder and then chairman of L Brands (which included Victoria’s Secret, The Limited and Abercrombie & Fitch), was a prominent philanthropist “considered a champion of Jewish learning and ethical education”, and s asked how he could “find himself so entangled and in love with a future convicted sex offender and alleged sex trafficker.
Versions of this question have troubled me since I started reporting my book and it has taken on new meaning with a new documentary series on Wexner.
I was one of the reporters interviewed by the show’s director, Matt Tyrnauer, who told me for this article: “What I discovered while producing the show is that Epstein had a tendency to s “associate closely with powerful Jewish businessmen throughout his career. And he kind of had Bernie Madoff undertones where there was a certain world within a world in New York’s money culture.” Epstein was a con man who was able to use his Jewish identity to infiltrate and exploit.This is clearly another example of how smart and resourceful Epstein was.
Steven Hoffenberg learned this the hard way. He hired Epstein to work for his Towers Financial Corp. in New York in 1987. This association, he claimed, resulted in Hoffenberg serving time in prison for securities fraud and tax evasion.
“Jeffrey exploited his Judaism a lot,” Hoffenberg told me. “In fact, he confirmed to me that he had strong Jewish roots and used those roots to help him get what he wanted by making connections. Epstein was a master manipulator. He used his Jewish faith to seduce me, Wexner, Leon Black and even Ghislaine’s father, Robert Maxwell, who was a great defender of Israel.
Epstein played on Maxwell’s sympathies that he too had lost many family members in the Holocaust and suspended his supposed connections with Israeli intelligence to line his pockets with money from Maxwell in exchange of allegedly helping the publisher of Fleet Street hide assets in numerous offshore bank accounts in the 1980s.
When Maxwell died mysteriously in 1991, his daughter Ghislaine almost immediately — and just as mysteriously — ended up with Epstein in New York.
But it was Wexner, the Ohio-based billionaire known as ‘The Merlin of the Mall’, who hired the dropout twice in the mid-1980s to manage his money – and then shocked him to give him power of attorney.
Wexner was Epstein’s “Big Fish,” and like Hoffenberg and Maxwell, Brooklyn-born Epstein used his Jewishness and support for Israel to insinuate himself into Wexner’s world, ultimately stealing some $46 million from him. dollars, according to Wexner’s accounting. Epstein also worked his way up to the position of trustee of the Wexner Foundation, one of the world’s largest private Jewish charities, for at least six years, according to The Forward, citing available tax records.
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Before Wexner severed ties with Epstein in 2007, The Wall Street Journal said Epstein had earned more than $200 million from their business relationship; a Washington Post reporter estimated it was double, putting the figure at $400 million. Sandy Lewis, a banker who once managed some of Wexner’s money, told Vanity Fair that Wexner was “a shy guy who got caught” by Epstein, a “con man”. Wexner conceded: “I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced, and I deeply regret having crossed his path.”
After his 2008 Florida sentencing, with Wexner irrelevant, Epstein returned to New York and brushed off his sex offender status, saying the underage sex charges he had pleaded guilty to were no worse than “stealing a bagel,” according to The New York Times.
Epstein then traded on his Jewish identity to target Black, the billionaire investor who had a “social relationship” with Epstein dating back to the mid-1990s. The then-Apollo Global CEO allegedly paid Epstein 158 million dollars for personal financial advice from 2012 to 2017. Black later called his business relationship with Epstein a “big mistake.”
Epstein also courted many men who were not of the Jewish faith, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. And he had famous friendships with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, who recently settled a civil sex abuse lawsuit from a prominent Epstein accuser.
Epstein has amassed a wealth of $577 million. He paid for houses in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Paris – all the places where he committed his crime.
It’s sad to me that so many intelligent and influential men – Jewish or otherwise – trusted him and allowed him.
Levine is the author of “The Spider: Inside the Criminal Web of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell”.