Ghislaine Maxwell and the Ecstasy of the Feet
When the feds raided Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2019, they unearthed a trove of evidence including binders of CDs containing tens of thousands of photographs.
Some of those never-before-seen images—released by federal prosecutors this week—depicted happier days of the late sex-trafficker’s romance with his alleged accomplice, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping him groom and abuse four underage girls from 1994 through 2004.
The exhibits contain several snapshots showing Maxwell giving Epstein a foot rub, seemingly on his private jet. Other photos reveal the couple kissing or embracing, riding a motorbike, lounging on a patio, and relaxing outside what appears to be a cabin.
The cheery pictures are at odds with the disturbing accusations against them: that for years, Epstein molested and raped scores of teenage girls after paying them for “massages,” and Maxwell allegedly played the role of scheduler and recruiter. Prosecutors say she was an older woman who made these girls and their parents feel at ease, normalized the sexual abuse, and sometimes took part in it herself.
The government has described the couple’s alleged sex-trafficking enterprise as a “pyramid scheme of abuse” where they encouraged victims to bring them more girls.
During opening arguments in the case, assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that Epstein and Maxwell “were a couple for many years, and when their relationship ended, they remained, in the defendant’s own words, the best of friends.” Maxwell, 59, “was Epstein’s closest associate and second in command,” Pomerantz added. “She was involved in every detail of Epstein's life.”
On Tuesday, prosecutors revealed exhibits including Word documents found on hard drives in Epstein’s residence, some allegedly made by a user named “gmax.”
One document created in October 2002 seemed to be a glowing biography of Maxwell and Epstein as a couple. Stephen Flatley, an FBI analyst, read excerpts of this computer file aloud but jurors didn’t receive further context on who wrote the profile or why.
“Jeffrey and Ghislaine have been together, a couple for the last 11 years,” the document stated. “They are, contrary to what many people think, rarely apart—I almost always see them together.”
“Ghislaine is highly intelligent, and great company with a ready smile and an infectious laugh who always puts one at one’s ease, and always makes one feel welcome,” the letter continued.
“Jeffrey and Ghislaine share many mutual interests and they have a lot of fun together. They both have keen searching and inquisitive minds.”
The document concluded: “Jeffrey and Ghislaine complement each other really well and I cannot imagine one without the other. On top of being great partners, they are also the best of friends.”
Prosecutors also presented photos taken of the interiors of Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in July 2019, when the FBI executed a search warrant.
Investigators discovered massage tables covered with white cloth, a safe containing cash, loose diamonds and passports, and collections of CDs and hard drives—including some that were found with “evidence” tape already on them.
Last Friday, jurors were also shown a roughly 40-minute video walk-through of Epstein’s Florida mansion taken by Palm Beach police during a search in 2005.
Gregory Parkinson, a retired Palm Beach cop and crime-scene manager, testified about photos and video footage taken inside Epstein’s lair, including in his master bedroom and shower rooms where the sexual abuse of minors allegedly occurred.
While the police video played, Parkinson described certain decor in the residence: photos of Epstein posing with Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba, and Pope John Paul II.
On Friday morning, the defense and prosecution argued over what other evidence could be presented in court including a collection of schoolgirl costumes found in Epstein’s Manhattan home in 2019—which were ultimately barred as evidence—and photos of unidentified children in the financier’s Palm Beach mansion uncovered in 2005.
Maxwell’s lawyer Christian Everdell referred to lurid photographs before jurors came in, describing one image “of a younger girl sort of pulling down her underwear exposing her buttocks” which Nathan had already barred from trial. He said the court also prohibited a photo depicting “a toddler, an infant walking forward towards the camera with an adult in the back, naked” from being entered into evidence.
At the time, Everdell said that the government and defense counsel hadn’t reached an agreement on a third photo showing Epstein “with a slightly older girl,” who is likely his “goddaughter.” (Epstein was reportedly godfather to the daughter of his close friends, billionaire Glenn Dubin and his wife Eva Andersson-Dubin, who once dated the elusive money-manager.)
“At this point, I believe it is the same girl with her lying across his lap with her bottom—although with underwear on, but he’s got his head down close to the bottom,” Everdell added.
“It shows him with a prepubescent girl,” Everdell told Nathan. “There is no allegation that he or Ms. Maxwell, for that matter, were involved in anything with prepubescent females. This is, I believe, the same girl as the toddler photo. It’s his goddaughter.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Comey noted that the photo of the girl pulling down her underwear was briefly recorded in the walk-through video.
“It’s clear that it is the primary decoration right outside of the master bedroom that [Maxwell] shared with Mr. Epstein,” Comey said, later adding: “in order to walk into that room, you have to go by a sexually suggestive photograph of a young girl.”
Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!
Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.