The writer James B. Stewart is divulging details from a background interview with Jeffrey Epstein about work he claimed to have done for Elon Musk’s Tesla.
But the most tantalizing bits have nothing to do with the tech company. They’re comments the pedophile financier made about having dirt on the rich and famous—from their sex lives to their drug use.
In the piece published Monday evening by The New York Times, Stewart said he visited Epstein at his Manhattan mansion in August 2018, a year before his indictment and subsequent death in federal lockup.
A young woman—possibly in her teens—answered the door and ushered him in.
“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,” Stewart wrote.
“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.”
Stewart’s account contains few direct quotes from Epstein, who apparently did not name names but claimed that his own scandalous past made it easy for others to tell him their secrets.
Stewart wanted to talk to Epstein because he heard that Musk had asked him to help search for a new Tesla chairman, which the company denies. He wrote that Epstein was “cryptic” about whatever work he had done and he got the impression he had “embellished” his role.
Instead, he was more interested in making excuses for his abuse of underage girls.
“He said that criminalizing sex with teenage girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was perfectly acceptable,” Stewart wrote.
At one point, Stewart wrote, Epstein started talking about the seamy side of Silicon Valley, saying its denizens were “hedonistic” and that he had seen top tech people using drugs “and arranging for sex.”
After the interview, Epstein reached out to Stewart a few times—to invite him to dinners that he said would include Woody Allen, Michael Wolff and Steve Bannon (it’s not clear the dinners even happened) and to ask the Pulitzer Prize winner about writing his biography.
“That was the last I heard from him,” Stewart wrote. “After his arrest and suicide, I’m left to wonder: What might he have told me?”