How did Jeffrey Epstein even own an island in the first place?
Jeffrey Epstein’s private “sex island” has become another point of accusations against the former financier who died in prison in 2019 awaiting trial for his allegations of sexual trafficking and abuse.
While speculation still surrounds the ultimate source of Epstein’s wealth, his island is certainly one of the grandest symbols of his fortune – despite the many horrible crimes that are alleged to have taken place there. So how did Jeffrey Epstein come to own the island in the first place?
How Epstein got his famous island
Epstein began a career as a financier in the 1970s, working his way through the competitive ranks of Bear Stearns trading and brokerage firm, becoming a partner in 1980. A year later, Epstein established J. Epstein & Co.
Epstein boasted about maintaining a large, secret list of clients, and in a 2003 interview with Vanity Fair, admitted being “the only person crazy enough, or arrogant enough, or misplaced enough” to manage only the fortunes of billionaires.
His business was so lucrative, that beginning in the late 90s, Epstein ran it from Little Saint James– a seventy-acre island in the US Virgin Islands – reportedly for the tax benefits. According to Business Insider, Epstein purchased the island for just short of $8 million – although the current value far surpasses that.
Epstein bought a second island
Epstein apparently loved the idea and privacy of owning an island so much that he spent around $18 million to purchase Great St. James as his second island in 2016. Unable to acquire it alone, new details emerged that Epstein bought it under a false offshore company under the name Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem – a real businessman from Dubai.
New York Magazine reported that Epstein planned to build a compound on Great St. James, but violated environmental regulations and was ordered to stop the project. All of this reportedly occurred without the knowledge or consent of Sulaymen.
This was probably for the better, as not allowing Epstein to continue his expansion project meant that he kept his business isolated to Little St. James – a place where locals could keep a casual eye on some of his activities. They didn’t all like what they saw.
Epstein’s Island: Business and pleasure
Now the owner of two private islands in the Atlantic Ocean, this multi-millionaire criminal had his own little playground to cater to his own fantasies, and those of the rich friends and clients who would join him. He was reported as spending most of his free time on the island, secluded from media attention.
It wasn’t long before locals believed something to be amiss, and in a Los Angeles Times article, the island was reportedly dubbed “Pedophile Island” or “Orgy Island.”. Outspoken locals and air strip workers claimed Epstein was seen on many occasions travelling with underrage girls – and police looked the other way.
During the 2019 investigation into Epstein’s sex crimes, Little Saint James island became a focal point for evidence and FBI raids. But what exactly occurred on Epstein’s island?
Epstein’s Island: The alleged atrocities
Outspoken victims claimed the secluded estate was the site of sexual exploitation and abuses by Epstein and his high-power acquaintances – from girls forced to commit sexual acts and even kept against their will among secret rooms of the estate.
More interviews from those survivors and workers on the island have exposed their shock that a convicted sex offender was able to make so many trips between the island and the US – in the visible company of young women – while no one stopped to question his actions until now.
Epstein, along with his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, are known as the two most active players. Prosecutors allege they seduced, paid, and trained young women and girls to be a part of a ring of sexual pleasures and fantasies. Even royalty and presidents, from Prince Andrew to Bill Clinton, were documented visiting the island.
Epstein’s Island: What happens now?
After Epstein’s apparent suicide in prison, Oprah Magazine reported the island quickly became a hotspot for tourists in the Carribean who were eager to add it to the list of their sightseeing tours. Despite its recent lingering history, travelers hope to “catch a glimpse of [Epstein’s] lavish structures” – and that’s no euphemism.
As a part of his $500 million fortune, Epstein’s islands were both up for sale following his arrest, and have even become wrapped in a lawsuit by ex-girlfriend and possible secret-ex-wife Ghislaine Maxwell. Maxwell hopes to secure funds for her own lawsuit appearances, claiming she is entitled money that Epstein promised to her.
This year the Attorney General for the US Virgin Islands filed a lawsuit alleging crimes of sex trafficking by Epstein and company while on the island. These authorities are making a hard pressed case to seize the lands as part of their own investigation.
With Epstein’s estate now tied up in a foreseeable number of lawsuits, and as new evidence continues to emerge, we are unsure what the future holds for the island. We expect the island will end up in better hands than its previous owner – we just hope the authorities perform a more thorough background check this time around.