Jeffrey Epstein is dead, but the accused pedophile financier is still surrounded by multiple mysteries. The source of his vast wealth still isn’t entirely known, nor have rumors that he may have trafficked women and girls to some of the world’s most powerful men been resolved. But one of the biggest lingering unknowns in the story is the status of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion, who’s been alleged by Epstein survivors to have recruited young women and girls into the multimillionaire’s circle and participated in their abuse.
Maxwell has denied all accusations of being involved in abuse, and she’s never faced criminal charges. But it’s hard to know much more than that when it comes to her recent years, because no one knows exactly where she is.
“I've heard she's in Brazil, I've heard she's in France, I've heard she's in California,” Lisa Bryant, director of the Netflix docuseries Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, told Esquire.
“Who knows where she is, really?”
Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?
Maxwell is the youngest of Elisabeth and Robert Maxwell’s nine children, and was born in France in 1961. The family lived in an English mansion, and her father was the founder of a media empire and served in Parliament. Maxwell attended one of the UK’s most exclusive boarding schools and then Oxford University. As members of British high society, Maxwell mingled with some of the nation’s most celebrated families, and became friends with Prince Andrew.
Her father died in 1991, after falling off his yacht and drowning. It’s been speculated that his death may have been a suicide, as on the day he died he was due to meet with the Bank of England over the matter of his being in default on millions in loans. After his death, the British media dubbed him the “crook of the century,” when it was revealed that he’d taken hundreds of millions of pounds from his employees pension funds. Maxwell told one news outlet after her father’s death that she felt he was murdered.
She moved to the United States the year of her father’s death, and soon met Jeffrey Epstein. The relationship marked a second reversal of fortunes for Maxwell, whose family lost much of its wealth after her father’s death. In 2000, she moved into a $4.95 million Manhattan townhouse purchased "by an anonymous limited liability company, with an address that matches the office of J. Epstein & Co. Representing the buyer was Darren Indyke, Mr. Epstein’s longtime lawyer." She was his companion for years, managing his households and introducing him to her society friends
Maxwell and her father in 1984.
According to a lawsuit she filed this year in hopes of winning funds from the late financier’s estate, “While under Epstein’s employ, Maxwell was responsible for managing Epstein’s properties located in New York, Paris, Florida, New Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
“During the course of their relationship, including while Maxwell was in Epstein’s employ,” the lawsuit reads, “Epstein promised Maxwell that he would support her financially. Epstein made these promises to Maxwell repeatedly, both in writing and in conversation.”
However, a 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein denied that Maxwell was an employee.
After Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from an underage girl, the two appeared to end their public association. In 2009, accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a civil suit against Epstein accusing him and Maxwell of grooming her into their alleged sex trafficking ring. However, Maxwell remained a fixture in New York society until around 2015. In 2012, she founded an environmental nonprofit called The TerraMar project, which folded in late 2019.
Epstein with Maxwell in 1995
Has she been charged with any crimes?
Though multiple survivors have alleged that Maxwell participated in Epstein’s alleged crimes, she’s never been criminally charged. One thing that could stymie potential efforts to level charges against Maxwell is the infamous 2008 plea deal that Epstein struck with the US Attorney for Miami, Alexander Acosta, which found him serving just 13 months in prison after initially facing charges that could have garnered him a life sentence. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich producer Joe Berlinger described the deal to Esquire as “unprecedented, unheard of sweetheart deal” that “included a non-prosecution agreement for named and unnamed co-conspirators.”
In April, an appeals court upheld the 2007 deal, writing in its opinion that the decision was “not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires.”
Maxwell is currently suing Epstein’s estate for money for her legal fees, and for the price of private security, alleging that her “prior employment relationship” with Epstein has caused to her be subjected to death threats.
Maxwell at a 2016 event.
Where is Ghislaine Maxwell now?
Though once a fixture of the global high-society, Maxwell has been spotted rarely in recent years. Last summer, she was photographed at a Los Angeles In-N-Out Burger, though the authenticity of the photo has been disputed. Her New York townhouse was sold in 2016.
This month, it was reported that lawyers for accusers seeking to file a civil suit against Maxwell have been unable to locate her. According to ABC news, one alleged victim’s “legal team dispatched process servers to five addresses previously connected to Maxwell, including a multi-million dollar brownstone on Manhattan's Upper East Side, an apartment building in Miami Beach and Epstein's mansion on Palm Beach Island.”
Maxwell is also contending with other civil lawsuits filed by alleged survivors. Just this month, she won the right to delay her questioning in a suit filed by Annie Farmer, the sister of fellow Epstein accuser Maria Farmer, on the grounds that her testimony could be used against her in a current criminal investigation. But with the FBI allegedly investigating Maxwell, her story could be far from over.