Jeffrey Epstein’s Caribbean island has become a bizarre tourist attraction, with locals and visitors chartering boats to sail around the palm-fringed land and gawp at his lavish home.
Little St James lies just off the southeast coast of St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands.
“No one used to pay attention to it,” said Jon Stewart, the owner of a charter boat company.
Epstein bought the 72-acre island in 1998 for $7.95 million (£6.5m), planting towering palm trees and ordering the construction of multiple buildings, a swimming pool and a helicopter pad.
Two giant yellow and white statues of cockatiels guard the dock. A life-sized Holstein cow statue grazes on the shore; locals report that Epstein liked to have it moved around the island, sometimes daily.
A blue and white temple-like structure was built on a rocky overlook, complete with a gold dome on the roof. Steve Scully, a contractor on the island, said it housed a gym.
Guests and staff would traverse the island on a series of golf buggies.
On Monday the FBI were using the buggies to investigate the territory, which Epstein listed as his main residence.
Locals recalled that some of the guards would come to the water’s edge if there were snorkellers in the area, but this week a lone armed guard only shielded his face from a photographer with a bright green umbrella.
It takes roughly 15 minutes to get to Little St James Island by boat.
Dean Bofenkamp, who was visiting from Youngstown, Ohio, to attend his son’s basketball game, said he was craning his neck to catch a glimpse while on the plane to St Thomas.
“I was just curious where it was,” he told AP.
In 2016, Epstein purchased the nearby Great St James Island, which is approximately 165 acres, for $18 million.
This year he began construction on a compound there despite a stop-work order that had been in place since December. The compound was to feature an amphitheatre, an underwater office, and pool, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.