Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell 'boasted of collecting compromising material on the rich and famous'

Harriet Alexander

Jeffrey Epstein boasted about having compromising material on “an astonishing number” of rich and famous people, it has been claimed, while his British confidante Ghislaine Maxwell reportedly told friends that she and Epstein were videotaping everyone who visited Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.

The claims come as expectation mounts that his long-term companion Miss Maxwell, 57, could be sought by New York prosecutors for questioning as a potential witness, as they continue their inquiry into Epstein’s activities, after his death.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in 1995 - Patrick McMullan

The Brooklyn-born financier was found dead in his prison cell on Saturday, in what is believed to be suicide. He was awaiting a trial next year on charges of sex trafficking of minors.

On Tuesday the warden of the jail where Epstein died, the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan, was reassigned to a different jail, and the two guards on duty the night he died were placed on leave.

William Barr, the attorney general, announced he had “directed the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily assign” warden Lamine N’Diaye to a regional office, pending the outcome of internal investigations into Epstein’s death.

Mr Barr has strongly criticised the jail for allowing Epstein to die.

Numerous Epstein accusers have claimed that Miss Maxwell served as Epstein’s recruiter and enabler. She has denied any accusations of wrong doing, and has never been charged.

Ghislaine Maxwell pictured with her father, newspaper owner Robert Maxwell, in Cannes in 1987

Geoffrey Berman, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, confirmed on Saturday that “our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing.”

William Barr, the US attorney general, went further, insisting on Monday that “any co-conspirators should not rest easy.”

On Monday the FBI raided Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands, which was nicknamed by locals as “Paedophile Island”.

Epstein purchased the picturesque island off the coast of St. Thomas for $7.95 million (£6.6m) in 1998. He went on to build a sprawling estate featuring a 24,000-square-foot private residence, two pools, a spa and an unusual blue-striped structure, described as a temple, which has been the subject of endless online fascination.

Former employees on the island have told of numerous young women being spotted at the expansive property.

A swarm of federal agents was seen fanning out across Little St James in golf carts about 10:30 am.

FBI agents are seen at Little St. James Island, one of the properties of late financier Jeffrey Epstein Credit: Reuters

"We were just trying to look at pretty fish and swim with turtles and here we are in the middle of an FBI raid," said Kelly Quinn, the owner of Salty Dog Day Sails, who was running a sailing charter in the area.

"This has been something on our radar for years. We're all really curious why it's happening now."

Epstein was known to use the island as a gathering place for his guests. Bill Clinton was reported as having visited – although he has denied ever setting foot on the island.

A friend of Miss Maxwell on Tuesday told Vanity Fair that Miss Maxwell said she and Epstein filmed the guests on the island “as an insurance policy, as blackmail.”

Miss Maxwell's lawyers, contacted by The Telegraph, are yet to respond to the accusations. Miss Maxwell's whereabouts are currently unknown.

James Stewart, a business correspondent for The New York Times, also reported on Tuesday details of a strange meeting with Epstein in August 2018, conducted off-the-record amid rumours that Epstein was advising Elon Musk on Tesla.

“The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it,” wrote Stewart.

“He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.”

Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump, pictured at Mar-a-Lago in 1997

Stewart described Epstein, who was convicted of procuring minors for prostitution in 2007 but dodged federal charges and only served a 13-month sentence, as “unapologetic”.

“His very notoriety, he said, was what made so many people willing to confide in him,” he wrote. “Everyone, he suggested, has secrets and, he added, compared with his own, they seemed innocuous. People confided in him without feeling awkward or embarrassed, he claimed.”

Stewart noted how the door to Epstein’s palatial home in New York was opened by a young girl, a teenager or in her early 20s, with an Eastern European accent.

“Given Mr Epstein’s past, this struck me as far too close to the line,” he wrote. “Why would Mr Epstein want a reporter’s first impression to be that of a young woman opening his door?”

Epstein later contacted Stewart to invite him for dinner with him and Woody Allen, and then with author Michael Wolff and Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon.

Epstein then suggested to Stewart that he write his autobiography.

“Already leery of any further ties to him, I was relieved I could say that I was already busy with another book,” he said.

“That was the last I heard from him. After his arrest and suicide, I’m left to wonder: What might he have told me?”