By: Jo Berry
Warning: this article touches on subject matter that some readers may find distressing
A little over a month since Netflix’s documentary series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, dropped, new developments in the case have seen the name of Epstein’s companion Ghislaine Maxwell back in the headlines.
On 2nd July, Maxwell was – according to NBC New York – arrested in New Hampshire by the FBI “on charges she conspired with Epstein to sexually abuse minors” with the expectation that she would appear in a federal court later that day.
Filthy Rich, produced and released prior to Maxwell’s arrest, delves deep into the disturbing case of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Throughout the series, Maxwell’s name repeatedly crops up in the testimony of the survivors, with many of the film’s subjects accusing her of recruiting young girls for the billionaire and sometime being present herself while abuse was taking place.
Maxwell has been described in the press as Epstein’s companion, but as of yet she has not spoken about Epstein, nor does she appear in the documentary – other than through a statement that shows at the end of each episode, stating she denies all allegations.
So, who is Ghislaine Maxwell, what was her involvement with Epstein – and why wasn’t she interviewed for the documentary?
A new follow-up video to the documentary series released by Netflix delves deeper into the life of Maxwell, claiming to shed light on her relationship with Epstein and her alleged role in the numerous incidents of abuse he is accused of.
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
The first question is the easiest to answer. Ghislaine is the youngest daughter of the late, disgraced media mogul Robert Maxwell, and was born in France on December 25th, 1961. She spent most of her childhood at Maxwell’s 53 bedroom mansion, Headington Hill Hall, in Oxfordshire, before attending university at Oxford.
In the 1980s, she was an active part of the London social scene while also working for her father’s various businesses that included Oxford United Football Club, and the Mirror Group newspapers. However, when Robert Maxwell died in 1991 – he drowned in suspicious circumstances in the waters off the Canary Islands, where he had been aboard his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine – she moved to New York where she was quickly accepted into the city’s elite social circles, mixing with the Clintons (she was a guest at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010), Donald Trump, and Prince Andrew to name a few.
And it was in New York she met Jeffrey Epstein at a party. It has been reported that the pair were a couple in the early 1990s, but by the time Epstein was profiled in Vanity Fair in 2003, he was describing her as his “best friend”, and the writer of the piece, Vicky Ward, goes on to note that, while Ghislaine wasn’t paid by Epstein, “she seems to organise much of his life”.
Numerous victims of Epstein’s alleged grooming, sexual abuse and trafficking have also accused Ghislaine Maxwell of being involved, as noted frequently in the Filthy Rich documentary. Indeed, survivor Virginia Giuffre, who was photographed with Prince Andrew, also alleges Maxwell introduced her to Epstein and forced her into having sex with other men including the royal.
“In the car Ghislane tells me that I have to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey and that just made me sick,” Virginia Guiffre said in an interview with Panorama last year. Guiffre brought a defamation lawsuit against Maxwell in 2015 that was settled in 2017 and unsealed last year following Epstein’s death. It includes Maxwell’s testimony that “a very small part of my job was from time to time to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person”.
Guiffre isn’t the only person who pursued legal action against Maxwell – Epstein’s accusers Sarah Ransome, Maria Farmer, Jennifer Araoz and Annie Farmer are among those who have gone on record implicating Ghislaine in Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes.
After he was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008, Maxwell distanced herself and was no longer seen in public with Epstein following his release. She strongly denied any knowledge of or involvement in Epstein’s crimes and in 2011 released a statement through legal representatives that said: “The allegations made against me are abhorrent and entirely untrue.”
Meanwhile a short new “Beyond the Documentary” video uploaded to Netflix’s YouTube account gives slightly more information about Maxwell and her background.
It tells of how she gave a TED Talk back in 2014 and describes herself as the president and founder of the TerraMar project, an NGO, president of Ellmax, a global consultancy company, as well as being a licensed helicopter pilot, certified EMT and a Deepworker submersible pilot.
It also claims that while it is clear that the two were a couple for at least some time, this changed when Maxwell realised Epstein wasn’t going to marry her.
And it goes into further detail about Maxwell’s alleged role as a recruiter for Epstein – showing that as early as 1993 she was posting adverts for yoga instructors using Epstein’s number, a year before the first alleged victim.
The video also alleges that, in cases where girls spurned Epstein’s advances, Maxwell “morphed into an enforcer” – including physically threatening the girls and taking away their passports.
RadioTimes.com has contacted a representative for Maxwell asking for comment.
Where is Ghislaine Maxwell now?
By 2016, Maxwell had stopped being photographed at society events in New York. In April of that year she sold her home there (a townhouse just a few blocks from Epstein’s on the Upper East Side), and in 2017 even her own lawyers claimed they had no knowledge of her current address, according to the New York Times.
This explains why she isn’t featured in Filthy Rich, as the series’ producers, along with all the lawyers, officials and investigators still working on the Epstein case, have no idea where Ghislaine Maxwell is.
While there were reports she spent last summer in Manchester by the Sea in Massachusetts at the home of hedge fund CEO Scott Borgerson, there were no confirmed sightings of her, and a report that she was spotted at a fast food place in Los Angeles in August 2019 has not been verified, either.
As outlined in the Netflix video above, the picture at the LA fast food place seems to be misleading – with claims having been made that it was taken by her lawyer as a distraction.
More recently, The Sun – who have offered a £10,000 reward for information on her whereabouts – claimed Maxwell was hiding out in a chateau in France that once belonged to her family, but that has not been confirmed.
A major new development came in July 2020, with NBC New York reporting that Maxwell had been arrested in New Hampshire by the FBI and would appear in a federal court on 2nd July.
The six-count indictment alleges that Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14 years old, going back as far as 1994.
“In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” the indictment says.
At the time of writing, Maxwell is yet to be officially charged with any crimes. She has denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. In 2011, she released a statement via legal representatives saying: “The allegations made against me are abhorrent and entirely untrue.”