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Friday, August 23, 2019

Recordings Unearthed from Jeffrey Epstein's Private Island



There are questions Jeffrey Epstein will never answer now.

But a lifetime ago—long before his dark journey ended in an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell—Epstein settled into a sling-back chair on his private Caribbean island and began talking.

Over the course of more than five hours, in an interview with journalist David Bank, Epstein held forth on subjects from the dangers of having too much money to the beauty of mathematics, the importance of prenuptial agreements to the exquisite convenience of owning private jets.



That 2003 interview, captured in a previously unpublished cache of recordings, provides a rare glimpse of the enigmatic figure in his own words.

Epstein drew the rich and powerful into his orbit over three decades, even after he registered as a sex offender in 2009. His opulent retreat of Little St. James, fringed by high palms, only added to his mystique. But why speak here, in a gazebo steps from the crystal-blue sea, rather than up in the grand main house??

“Too many girls,” Epstein said. And with that, the tape began to roll. The recordings were made by Bank, now head of the digital media company ImpactAlpha and then a Wall Street Journal reporter whose beat was philanthropy. Epstein was soon to donate $6.5 million to Harvard University to support research into evolutionary dynamics, the largest known contribution he made over the years as he tried to cultivate a reputation as a moneyed patron. The Journal didn’t publish a story based on the interview on Little St. James.


After Epstein’s arrest on July 6, Bank dug out the tapes and listened to them. The financier was, Bank recalled, friendly and gracious, eager to pontificate about many things but cagey about exactly what he did in his role as financial adviser to Leslie Wexner, the billionaire he met in Palm Beach in the 1980s and who opened doors for him in business and finance and beyond.Epstein wouldn’t name any of his other clients, nor say how many there were. “Less than 10. More than four.”

He did, though, touch a bit on the control he had over the finances of the Victoria’s Secret mogul. “I don’t tell him what sweaters to buy, he doesn’t tell me when to buy or sell stock.” Born in 1953 in Brooklyn — on the tapes he still has the accent — Epstein went to what he called “rough schools” and took college courses but never earned a degree. The Dalton School, an elite institution on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, hired him as a teacher anyway.



“It attracted me because I thought it would be a different class of students I hadn’t come across before,” he said. For him, “this was going to be the flip side” to his early years on blue-collar Coney Island.

The parents of the kids in his math and physics classes were not only well-to-do but, more importantly, connected, people like, as he recalled, the actor Joel Grey and venture capitalist Fred Adler. He paid attention.



Jeff Epstein’s career as a fixer, for lack of a better description, was about to be launched. Through a Dalton School parent, he met Bear Stearns Cos.’ Alan “Ace” Greenberg. Greenberg summoned the young man to his office, barked out a few questions and hired him on the spot.

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