One woman has been a constant in the ever-shifting cast of females with which Jeffrey Epstein surrounds himself.
Ghislaine Maxwell, glamorous daughter of the late, disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, is different from the other women in Epstein’s life in many ways but, most obviously, at 49, she is a lot older. She is also Epstein’s Girl Friday, his fixer – central to his operation. It was Ghislaine who, in 1998, recruited the 15-year-old Virginia Roberts to work as Epstein’s ‘masseuse’.
Meeting Epstein for the first time at his Palm Beach mansion, Virginia was led into the massage room by Ghislaine. After a bizarre interview conducted by a naked Epstein, Ghislaine told Virginia to follow her instructions. ‘She had me put oil on my hand, then she grabbed one of his feet and started to massage it. She told me to take his other foot,’ says Virginia. ‘Then she told me to take off my clothes. He had sex with me.
‘Ghislaine said, “She’s got a knack for it.” And I thought, “These are important people. I must be doing something right.” ’
Ghislaine had fled to New York after the death of her father, who fell off his yacht – named the Lady Ghislaine after his favourite child – in mysterious circumstances in 1991.
His death revealed a vast financial black hole at the heart of his Mirror Group, including the employees’ pension scheme.
In Britain, the Maxwell name was mud as fraud trials, bankruptcy and disgrace swirled around the family, but in America – with her charisma, love of the high life and an address book stuffed with well-connected friends – Ghislaine became a fixture on the Manhattan social scene. She and Epstein soon became inseparable. There was talk first of marriage, then it was said that they were like ‘an old married couple’ but that Epstein would not marry her. It emerged only after an FBI investigation into his sexual exploitation of teenagers that his interest lay in underage girls. According to Virginia, Ghislaine helped smooth the way for Epstein to sexually molest the young girls recruited to ‘massage’ him.
But she also provided him with an entry into British society – including the friendship with Prince Andrew that lasted until Friday, when the Prince dramatically announced he was breaking off all contact.
Between 2000 and 2001, Andrew and Ghislaine were together on no fewer than eight occasions. Epstein was present at four of the meetings – at the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida (from where Virginia was recruited), in Phuket, at a weekend party at Sandringham, and at Windsor Castle. In addition, Andrew has often been seen at Epstein’s grand New York townhouse.
Virginia says: ‘I once asked Ghislaine why she got as many girls as she did for Jeffrey, as she supposedly had been his girlfriend and they seemed to have a grounded but non-monogamous relationship
'The training she gave me was very thorough. It started on my first day at work following the “interview”. I began learning legitimate massage techniques. ‘She also taught me how to keep him emotionally happy. She said, “Be compliant. Always be cheerful. Always smile a lot.”
‘She told me that I should bring along any girlfriends I had who might be suitable. She said he liked white girls – no black girls, ever. If a girl was of any other heritage, she had to be a knockout beauty.
‘She also taught me what kind of clothes to buy. His favourite was to dress me as a schoolgirl, in pigtails and little pleated skirts, and knee socks. Ghislaine sent me to a dentist to have my teeth whitened and I went for Brazilian waxes. He wanted me to look pre-pubescent.
‘Ghislaine herself had flings with men, including a famous Hollywood star. Jeffrey didn’t mind that.He was very good to her.
'He bought her a house in New York, a house in London, a helicopter and a Mercedes convertible.
‘A British girl, Emmy Tayler, was very close to Ghislaine. Her job was to run errands for Ghislaine and do paperwork.
'Emmy wasn’t really Jeffrey’s type, being voluptuous and older. [She is now 36]. Jeffrey liked girls like me, with ballerina figures.
‘Emmy and I were very close but I didn’t tell her much about my background and she didn’t tell me much about hers. 'She came to the States to become a model or actress and said she met Ghislaine in New York. Ghislaine promised her a great lifestyle, like she’d promised me. She was given an apartment in the same New York building as me.’