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If you've watched Netflix's new Jeffrey Epstein documentary, Filthy Rich, you'll likely have been shocked to learn about the extent of financier Epstein's sexual abuse of young women - many of whom were underage. But while filling us in on many of the harrowing details surrounding Epstein's 'pyramid scheme' of sexual assault, the four-part-series also left us with a few questions. One of which was, what was the relationship between Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump, the reality TV businessman-turned President of the United States?
Epstein and Trump are pictured together numerous times throughout the documentary, and after once publicly describing the financier as a "terrific guy," the now-President swiftly changed tack once Epstein's crimes became publicly known.
So, what's the deal with these two? Here's everything you need to know about the Jeffrey Epstein/ Donald Trump connection.
How did Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump meet?
While it's not known exactly when Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump met, it's clear the pair shared a lengthy friendship. In a 2002 New York Magazine article on Epstein, Trump was quoted as saying: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years," and various footage of the pair partying in 1992 at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate confirms it was a friendship that spanned decades.
The connection is thought to have originated from the fact that both men owned properties in Florida's Palm Beach, an exceedingly wealthy area brimming with luxury resorts and expansive (read: expensive) mansions.
Multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein is believed to have purchased his Palm Beach property in 1990, paying nearly $2.5 million for the 8000-square-foot house (which came complete with five bedrooms, more than 7 bathrooms, and a pool). It was in this very house where the allegations against Epstein began, after the stepmother of a 14-year-old girl reported him to the police because the teen was found with $300 in cash on her at school and claimed she had earned it by massaging him.
Trump, meanwhile, owned the adjacent property - his famed Mar-a-Lago estate. The businessman purchased the sprawling, 128-room mansion for $5 million in 1985, and a decade later, in 1995, turned it into a private club containing a 20,000-square-foot ballroom.
Trump and Epstein had enormous wealth in common - and that was an incentive for the friendship, according to a Washington Post interview with Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide. "Bottom line," he said, "Donald would hang out with Epstein because he was rich."
Were Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump friends or business associates?
Despite Trump's background as a businessman, and Epstein's in finance, it's not thought that the pair shared a professional relationship. In fact, the New York Times reports Jeffrey Epstein wasn't even a paying member of Mar-a-Lago, but instead attended numerous times as "a guest of a guest".
The pair were clearly friendly, though, as they were pictured together at Trump's Palm Beach estate on multiple occasions throughout the '90s and the early '00s. Epstein even reportedly claimed that he was responsible for introducing Donald Trump to his now-wife, Melania. This doesn't match up with the Trumps' account of how they met, however. According to a Vanity Fair profile on the First Lady in 2017, Melania is fond of telling the story of how Donald approached her at a party during Fashion Week 1998 in New York, while his own date went to the bathroom. He reportedly asked her for her number, to which she asked him for his instead - it's "a story she tells proudly", apparently.
While the accounts of Melania and Donald Trump's introduction differ, as the politician attempted to distance himself from a disgraced-Epstein during his Presidential campaigning, Trump wasn't always so shy about his friendship with the wealthy financier.
In a New York Magazine article on Epstein from 2002, Donald Trump was quoted as saying: "I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it - Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Why did Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump fall out?
The friendship between Epstein and Trump wasn't to last. however. Speaking in July 2019, just days after Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking, Donald Trump was eager to clarify that there pair were no longer friends - and hadn't been for quite some time.
"I had a falling out with him," said the President. "I haven’t spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you."
So what happened to the Epstein/Trump friendship to make it all turn so sour? Apparently, it wasn't anything to do with a moral awakening over Epstein's abuse of young girls that saw the friendship done and dusted - it was a fight over real estate.
In 2004, another Palm Beach property came up for grabs - an oceanfront mansion ironically called Maison de l’Amitie, or the House of Friendship. The property was being sold as a result of its previous owner Abe Gosman's bankruptcy, and according to a Washington Post report, both Epstein and Trump were keen to get their hands on it.
"It was something like, Donald saying,'You don’t want to do a deal with him, he doesn’t have the money,' while Epstein was saying: 'Donald is all talk. He doesn’t have the money'," recalled Joseph Luzinski, who was the trustee in the case. "They both really wanted it," he told the Post.
What ensued was an outright bidding war between the two men - and their legal parties - for the estate, which Trump had described as "the finest piece of land in Florida and probably the U.S."
In the end, Trump won the bid, securing the property for $41.35 million, beating Epstein's drop-out bid of $38.6 and also the offers of a third bidder. Just four years later, in 2008, the Washington Post reports Trump sold it to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million, making more than double his money.
Despite winning the battle, the rivalry clearly left a bitter taste in Donald Trump's mouth. He later claimed he had barred Jeffrey Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago estate, and the pair were never photographed together again.
“He’s a real creep, I banned him," Trump is reported to have told his former aide, Sam Nunberg.
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