The Mysterious Disappearance of Ghislaine Maxwell’s (Maybe Fake) Husband

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Weeks before Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest in summer of 2019, his alleged accomplice and former girlfriend, British heiress Ghislaine Maxwell, breezed into a social gathering on the North Shore of Massachusetts on the arm of her secret husband.

Maxwell, once a fixture in elite Manhattan circles, was now leading a quieter life, assuming the role of environmental activist, suburban stepmom, and spouse to one Scott Borgerson, an entrepreneur and former Coast Guard officer who is 14 years her junior.

According to one person who attended this particular mixer, Maxwell politely introduced herself before heading to the event’s bar. Borgerson then saw an opportunity to brag to this acquaintance about a private meal he’d enjoyed with Maxwell and former President Bill Clinton. “It was lunch with just the three of them,” the person told The Daily Beast of Borgerson. “He was trying to impress me. He’s famous for name-dropping.”

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Borgerson, 46, relished being Maxwell’s plus-one, rubbing elbows with the glitterati and gaining entrée to the upper crust—including at a 2014 vegan dinner in Los Angeles with Clinton and his operatives and, per one Vice report, the ultra-exclusive Campfire retreat hosted by Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos in 2018. Multiple acquaintances and colleagues of Borgerson told The Daily Beast that the divorced dad usually referred to Maxwell as his romantic “partner,” not his wife. And that she often visited his former firm, CargoMetrics, with the couple’s purebred Vizslas and devoted time to his two children.

But the pair’s domestic bliss was shattered in August 2019, when Epstein killed himself in jail and the feds and international media, now bereft of their high-profile defendant, shifted focus to Maxwell, whose association with the perverted money-manager made headlines for years.

Now Borgerson’s former friends and coworkers—including those who knew Maxwell as his significant other—told The Daily Beast that they’re watching closely to see whether he publicly supports her during her criminal trial, for which opening statements are scheduled on Nov. 29. And to see whether Maxwell walks free and back into his arms.

In December, a Business Insider profile suggested Borgerson wanted to distance himself from the 59-year-old socialite accused of procuring girls for Epstein. Borgerson said he penned a book proposal that piqued the interest of a publisher but “he questioned whether it was worth it to have his legacy tied so closely to Maxwell’s,” the outlet reported.

Borgerson didn’t return messages left by The Daily Beast.

When reached by a Beast reporter in August 2019, he denied ever dating Maxwell and said, “Ghislaine is not at my house. She’s a friend—former friend.”

Maxwell’s brother, in a recent interview with Insider, confirmed Borgerson was her husband but said the family wasn’t aware of their union until she was behind bars. “We were not terribly shocked, but we were surprised to discover that she had gotten married just as the rest of the world did at the very same time,” Ian Maxwell said.

In July 2020, Manhattan federal prosecutors charged Maxwell with recruiting and abusing three underage girls for Epstein from 1994 to 1997, as well as lying under oath during a 2016 deposition in a lawsuit filed by a victim of Epstein. (Earlier this year, a judge ruled Maxwell will face trial separately for the two counts of perjury.) The government later added a fourth victim and sex-trafficking charges to its case, claiming Maxwell groomed the girl beginning when she was 14 years old in 2001 through 2004.

At Maxwell’s initial bail hearing, prosecutors dropped another bombshell: The cosmopolitan was definitely married, though she declined to share her husband’s name. The spouse, now widely reported to be Borgerson, came forward to support Maxwell’s next request for bail in December—albeit anonymously. “The person described in the criminal charges is not the [Ghislaine] we know,” the spouse wrote in a redacted letter to the court. “I have never witnessed anything close to inappropriate with Ghislaine; quite to the contrary, the Ghislaine I know is a wonderful and loving person.” He added, “I believe that Ghislaine had nothing to do with Epstein’s crimes.” In the missive, the husband indicated that he wasn’t a co-signer of Maxwell’s first bail application because he was trying to escape “ferocious media aggression.”

Indeed, Borgerson has kept a low profile since his romance with Maxwell became tabloid fodder. In the wake of Maxwell’s arrest, he resigned from CargoMetrics, the Boston maritime analytics company he co-founded in 2010. The firm said Borgerson didn’t want to “become a distraction from the work he believes in so deeply.” On his LinkedIn profile, which he recently disabled, Borgerson said he is now president and chief operating officer of a “stealth startup” focused on financial management and business planning.

“I don’t think he wanted to leave CargoMetrics,” one former colleague told The Daily Beast of Borgerson, adding that it remains to be seen whether he will surmount the detour his career has apparently taken as a result of his alliance with Maxwell.

“In a rational world, this should have a bad effect on him, but this world is very far from rational.”

Borgerson was a married father of two when he met Maxwell in 2013, reportedly at the inaugural Arctic Circle conference in Iceland. Speakers that year included then-Google chairman Eric Schmidt, the philanthropist and former owner of the Anchorage Daily News Alice Rogoff, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, with video addresses from Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

When the future lovebirds beamed for a photo at the summit, Borgerson gripped a wine glass, wedding band visible on his finger. Maxwell was there as president of The TerraMar Project, her obscure oceans nonprofit, while Borgerson was an Arctic Circle organizer and former maritime policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Someone who worked with TerraMar told The New York Times that Maxwell was head over heels for Borgerson, repeatedly extolling him as “hot” and “brilliant.” She also told friends he was a “Navy SEAL” when he was actually a Coast Guard veteran.

As The Daily Beast revealed, Maxwell was becoming so close with Borgerson that, in February 2014, she brought him to an intimate dinner with Clinton at Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles. Former Clintonworld staffers and the late producer Steve Bing joined them.

Four months later, Borgerson filed for divorce from his first wife, Rebecca, citing irreconcilable differences. In court papers, Rebecca accused Borgerson of having a “history of alcoholism, physical and verbal abuse, and extreme controlling nature,” while Borgerson claimed Rebecca, a devout Christian, used “religion in an extreme manner, especially as it pertains to the children.”

As Borgerson’s relationship with Maxwell blossomed, so did news stories about his startup’s high-profile investors including Google’s Schmidt and Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, who partied with Borgerson in Saint-Tropez. Bloomberg reported Ofer and Borgerson debated British and American colonial history at the August 2016 soiree packed with “society A-listers.”

Earlier that year, Borgerson presented himself as a Missouri-born outsider with humble roots, telling Institutional Investor, “There’s a lot that motivates me, including—if I’m honest—I have a big chip on my shoulder to beat the prep school, Ivy League, MBA crowd. They’re bred to make money, but they’re not smarter than everyone else; they just have more patina and connections.” Borgerson also boasted of his top employees: “All were self-made people; none were born with a silver spoon.”

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One former CargoMetrics employee said they remember Borgerson discussing Maxwell’s nonprofit and wanting to use the resources of his startup to support it, but such plans never materialized. Borgerson, they added, was “very personable and very good at forming relationships with folks who were wealthy… so I can imagine that he would have been at least in part attracted to the connections she could help him make.”

Separately, another acquaintance said it was obvious that Maxwell gave Borgerson admission to the establishment and he, in return, was her arm candy: fit, 6-foot-5, and ex-military. “He wanted access to power and so did she,” the insider said, adding that Maxwell and Borgerson socialized with her ex-boyfriend, Gateway co-founder Ted Waitt. (As The Daily Beast reported, Maxwell was known to name-check Schmidt and Bezos when courting supporters for TerraMar. One researcher said that when he attended a 2013 dinner at Maxwell’s Manhattan home, someone mentioned Maxwell “was trying to overcome a PR problem and that her focus on oceans was a way of reintroducing her to New York and to the U.S. political establishment.”)

Still, the acquaintance noted, Borgerson was aware of Maxwell’s history of working for Epstein and said he believed she had nothing to do with his crimes.

Unbeknownst to many of Borgerson’s colleagues, Maxwell was quietly wrestling with her past ties to the multimillionaire sex offender.

From 2015 to 2018, Maxwell fought separate lawsuits in New York from Virginia Giuffre and Sarah Ransome, who each claimed she coerced them into sex acts with the late financier. Both cases were settled under confidential terms.

Friends told The Daily Beast they noticed a change in Borgerson, whom they described as a charismatic self-promoter, once he began dating Maxwell. “He started dressing differently, speaking differently,” one person said, adding that Borgerson went from unfashionable Midwesterner to “practically professionally styled.”

Maxwell would drop into the CargoMetrics building with her and Borgerson’s dogs, as the couple had a pied-a-terre a few blocks from the office. “I remember her saying she was glad to have left the New York social scene,” the person added. “I don’t know how genuine she was being at that point. I didn’t realize how much she was hiding even then.”

The person said that after Epstein’s death, “Everyone was asking, ‘Where is Ghislaine Maxwell?’ I knew exactly where she was: Manchester-by-the-Sea.”

When the Daily Mail exposed Maxwell’s whereabouts—a $2.4 million oceanfront mansion she shared with Borgerson in the old fishing town—the lesser-known tech founder was thrust into the spotlight as paramour of an alleged “madam.”

Journalists showed up to the Massachusetts estate, and in August 2019, Borgerson told cops that he’d deploy “level four force,” on any intruders to his home. Borgerson was using police-speak for a nonlethal response that includes Tasers, strikes, and neck holds.

According to the Daily Mail, Borgerson emailed the local police chief saying his “military/intelligence friends” would watch his house while he was gone and that he was planning “physical patrols of my property on a random and rotating schedule.” In a follow-up message, Borgerson said he was heading to New Hampshire for a family camping trip.

The FBI would eventually track Maxwell to a luxury home in New Hampshire, using cellphone data from a device that communicated with Borgerson. Maxwell had purchased the 156-acre property for about $1 million in cash through an anonymous LLC in December 2019.

In announcing the Maxwell indictment, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York division William Sweeney said investigators were “secretly keeping tabs” on the socialite, who “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted on them years ago.”

That Merrimack County hideaway had a locked gate and private security guard. When they descended on the property, FBI agents spotted Maxwell through a window and demanded she open the door, but she allegedly fled to another room. Agents also found a “cell phone wrapped in tin foil on top of a desk, a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection” by cops, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Before purchasing the secluded home, Maxwell and a male partner used the pseudonyms “Scott and Janet Marshall” when speaking with the real estate agent, assistant U.S. attorney Alison Moe said at Maxwell’s initial bail hearing. The couple also had British accents.

Scott told the realtor he was retired from the British military and writing a book, while Janet said she was a journalist seeking privacy. “They told the agent they wanted to purchase the property quickly through a wire and that they were setting up an LLC,” Moe told the court.

After Maxwell’s arrest, the real estate agent saw a photograph in the press and realized she was the woman who introduced herself as Janet.

Whether the realtor met Borgerson hasn’t been confirmed publicly.

Maxwell reportedly wed Borgerson in 2016—the same year she sold her New York townhouse for $15 million and relocated to Massachusetts. Marriage records confirming the couple’s union have yet to be publicly revealed.

“The sale of Ms. Maxwell’s New York apartment coincided with her intention... to live with her spouse,” her attorneys wrote in December court filings.

Around the same time, the socialite transferred a majority of her assets into a trust controlled by her husband and another unnamed party. “All assets in the trust were distributed to Ms. Maxwell’s spouse in 2019,” one memorandum in support of Maxwell’s bail request states, adding that the couple’s net worth was about $22.5 million.

Maxwell was willing to put all of her and Borgerson’s assets on the line—including the couple’s primary residence and two other homes—to secure her release pending trial.

“For Ms. Maxwell to flee, she would have to abandon her spouse,” her attorneys argued in one court filing. “She will not risk destroying the lives and financial well-being of those she holds most dear to live as a fugitive during a worldwide pandemic.”

“In fact, every action Ms. Maxwell has taken from the time of Epstein’s arrest up to the time of the first bail hearing was designed to protect her spouse… from harassment, economic harm, and physical danger,” the filing said.

“If Ms. Maxwell were to violate her bail conditions, which she has no intention of doing,” the document added, “she would be leaving her spouse…with virtually nothing.”

Prosecutors, however, argued Maxwell posed “an extreme flight risk” and questioned whether her husband was enough to keep her in the country. They pointed to what they called “plainly inconsistent statements” that Maxwell gave at the time of her arrest, including that she was “in the process of divorcing her husband,” court papers reveal. Maxwell’s bail package, the government noted, proposed that she live with somebody other than her spouse.

In response, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she and her hubby only considered divorce as a way to create more distance between them, so she could “protect him… from the terrible consequences of being associated with her.”

The government also impugned the husband’s refusal to come forward in July 2020. “While a friend’s desire to avoid publicity may be understandable,” prosecutors wrote, “a spouse’s desire to distance himself in that manner—particularly when coupled with the defendant’s inconsistent statements about the state of their relationship—undermine her assertion that her marriage is a tie that would keep her in the United States.”

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Maxwell “spent the last five years moving the majority of her assets out of her name by funneling them through trusts to her spouse,” prosecutors alleged in a court filing, adding that they believe she “has used the process of transferring assets as a means to hide her true wealth.”

Maxwell’s financial report, assistant U.S. attorneys added, suggested she brought more than $20 million to her marriage, but that her husband contributed only $200,000. Because a majority of the spouse’s assets came from Maxwell, “he would not be losing his own money if the defendant fled,” prosecutors added.

In his statements to Insider last month, Ian Maxwell said he didn’t know whether his sister and Borgerson were still together.

The sibling said he believes that Maxwell stepped back from Borgerson to protect him and his children from the press. “The kids want to go to school,” Ian Maxwell said. “The father wants to get on with this business. She says, ‘Look, I can’t put you through that; I’m just going to have to lay low for a while.’”

Borgerson hasn’t shown up at any of Maxwell’s pretrial hearings, and it’s unclear whether he’ll appear in New York when his wife faces the jury.

He was last photographed in July 2020, weeks after Maxwell was detained, on the patio of his Manchester-by-the-Sea mansion with his Vizsla by his side. The Daily Mail published the images beneath the headline: “Ghislaine Maxwell's downcast lover Scott Borgerson is spotted for first time since her arrest—still looking after her faithful dog.”

One cohort of Borgerson said the court’s refusal to grant bail to Maxwell was “truly political” and that her incarceration weighed on the tech founder.

“He’s an amazing person, an entrepreneur, was with the Coast Guard—the all-American guy as it were,” the friend told The Daily Beast. “He was completely blindsided by all of this.”

With additional reporting by Emily Shugerman

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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