How Ghislaine Maxwell went from socialite to ‘sex-trafficker’

Ghislaine Maxwell grew up well versed in mixing with royals, politicians and moguls but her life of privilege came to an abrupt end Thursday as she was arrested and accused of recruiting victims for Jeffrey Epstein. 

As the ‘favorite’ daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert she boasted an impeccable network of contacts and starry circle of friends. 

The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton.   

But on Thursday Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire, accused of helping procure underage sex partners for convicted sex offender Epstein. She is due to appear in a federal court later.

An indictment said she facilitated the pedophile’s crimes by ‘helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse’ girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse. 

Maxwell has previously denied the allegations against her. Epstein killed himself in a federal detention center in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Until her arrest Maxwell had been virtually invisible since the autumn of 2016. But it wasn’t always that way. 

In fact, Maxwell, who speaks with a British accent, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access to the most exclusive of parties.  

As one of Epstein’s accusers, Maria Farmer, told The Guardian: ‘Ghislaine was key in making me feel safe.’

She added: ‘I trusted her because she is a woman…she had that way about her, you know, the popular girl in school, she was one of those. She knew everybody.’ 

Prince Andrew center and Ghislaine Maxwell (in green dress) at Royal Ascot in 2000. Maxwell was arrested Thursday, accused of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew center and Ghislaine Maxwell (in green dress) at Royal Ascot in 2000. Maxwell was arrested Thursday, accused of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew center and Ghislaine Maxwell (in green dress) at Royal Ascot in 2000. Maxwell was arrested Thursday, accused of helping procure underage sex partners for Jeffrey Epstein

The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump, pictured in 1997 together, and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton

The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump, pictured in 1997 together, and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 1995

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 1995

The French born socialite, 58, spent decades at the most exclusive of parties, pictured with the likes of Donald Trump, left in 1997, and Prince Andrew and riding private jets with Bill Clinton. She is pictured right with Eptein in 1995

As the 'favorite' daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert, Ghislaine boasted an impeccable network of contacts. The father and daughter are pictured in 1984

As the 'favorite' daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert, Ghislaine boasted an impeccable network of contacts. The father and daughter are pictured in 1984

As the ‘favorite’ daughter of disgraced newspaper baron Robert, Ghislaine boasted an impeccable network of contacts. The father and daughter are pictured in 1984

Born in Paris on Christmas Day in 1961 to her French mother Elisabeth and dad Robert, Ghislaine was the youngest of nine. She grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a mansion leased from the council.

Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, in Wiltshire, England, a favorite of the British elite, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages. 

In her twenties, she was a well-known face on London’s social scene and founded the Kit Kat Club, an alternative to the old-school-tie network for high-powered women.

She worked for her father’s newspaper, The European, and as the director of Oxford United Football Club while her father was owner. 

But when her father Robert, one of the most powerful media magnates — and most notorious fraudsters — in modern history, died her world crumbled. 

Robert spent his business career investing in Israel’s economy after losing most of his family during the Holocaust. He died aged 68 in 1991 in suspicious circumstances after falling off his megayacht named after Ghislaine, the Lady Ghislaine. Her mother reportedly died in 2013.  

Soon after the newspaper tycoon’s death Ghislaine caused outrage by being photographed boarding Concorde while at the same time publicly speaking of her financial struggle. 

Her father, she lamented, had left her only an annual £80,000 ($100,000) trust fund to live off after he stole nearly £500million ($623 million) from employee pension funds.  

Increasingly, she was seen to be resolutely unsympathetic to Maxwell’s victims and, astonishingly, sought to defend her father’s behavior even after it became clear he had defrauded so many of his employees.

Before long, there was the inevitable speculation that she was living off stolen money and Ghislaine was said to have taken to wearing a disguise in Britain to avoid recognition.

But it was a different story in America, where Ghislaine found she could do as she pleased — and over the years she has taken full advantage of this attitude.   

It was in New York, aged 30, where she is understood to have first met Epstein. Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she ‘worshiped rich, domineering men’.

Maxwell, pictured in 1986, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access

Maxwell, pictured in 1986, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access

Maxwell, pictured in 1986, had been a regular on the New York social scene after meeting Epstein in the 1990s, using her connections to secure them both access

Ghislaine pictured with her sisters

Ghislaine pictured with her sisters

Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of former Mirror Group publisher Mr Robert Maxwell, sifting through the mountain's of 'Draw Coupon' entries in 1984.

Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of former Mirror Group publisher Mr Robert Maxwell, sifting through the mountain's of 'Draw Coupon' entries in 1984.

Born in Paris on Christmas Day in 1961 to her French mother Elisabeth and dad Robert Ghislaine was the youngest of nine. She is pictured left with her sisters  and right in 1984 

Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener’s son, to society. In return, she used the financier’s millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons. 

She was said to be ‘madly in love’ with Epstein but the pedophile who killed himself last year is said to have shunned marriage with her because he wanted to sleep with other women.  

Still, he took Ghislaine under his wing when she arrived in New York, helping her not only back on to her feet but also to become one of the most sought-after members of the city’s social elite.

She was instantly attracted to him — a man as flamboyant, dominant and rich as the father she had just lost.

In no time, she was appearing at Epstein’s side as the ‘celebrity’ guest at the opening of a glamorous Manhattan restaurant. She was also a regular guest at his Upper East Side apartment. Very soon, a friend reported that ‘her dependence [on Epstein] is pretty total’. 

‘Ghislaine floated in and out of the house with the keys, and even though Jeffrey told me they didn’t have a sexual relationship, she’d drop under her breath that she was sleeping in his bed from time to time’ one Epstein ex-girlfriend told Vanity Fair.

Prince Andrew has publicly invoked his friendship with Maxwell as the reason he came into pedophile Epstein’s orbit.

He blamed Maxwell for bringing Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham in 2000. ‘Remember that it was his girlfriend (Maxwell) that was the key element in this,’ the Prince said in his notorious Newsnight interview last year. ‘He was the… plus one.’  

The Prince corrected previous reports that he threw a birthday party for Maxwell at Sandringham at which Epstein is believed to have met other members of the Royal Family including Prince Charles: ‘It was a shooting weekend,’ he said.

On Thursday, Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said the investigation into Epstein’s decades of abuse is ongoing and that she’d ‘welcome’ Prince Andrew ‘coming in to provide a statement’, prompting speculation that he may among people investigators may focus their attention on next. 

‘We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk to us. We would like to have the benefit of his statement. Our doors remain open.

‘We would welcome him coming in and giving us an opportunity to hear his statement,’ she said. 

Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages

Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages

Maxwell went on to be educated at Marlborough College, then Oxford University and was used to a privileged, public-school and Oxford-educated lifestyle. She is also said to be a helicopter and submarine pilot and able to speak four languages

Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she 'worshiped rich, domineering men'

Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she 'worshiped rich, domineering men'

Robert Maxwell biographer Tom Bower said she ‘worshiped rich, domineering men’

THE ALLEGATIONS 

Victim 1

Met Maxwell when she was 14 in 1994.  

Epstein and Maxwell both encouraged her to travel to Epstein’s residences in Florida and New York where she had sex with them 

Victim 2 

Met Maxwell in 1996 at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico where she had sex with them 

Victim 3 

Met Maxwell in London in 1994 and was groomed until 1995 where she had sex with them 

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Photographs have also emerged of Maxwell joining a grinning Andrew and Epstein at Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day in 2000. 

It was at Maxwell’s Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first ‘sex trafficked’ her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied. 

She was photographed at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and she also flew with Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private jet, dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’ because it was used to ferry young girls to his private Caribbean island or ranch in New Mexico.

The pair also partied with Donald Trump and Melania at Mar-A-Lago and threw lavish dinners at Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse, attended by Woody Allen, Katie Couric, Chelsea Handler, David Blaine and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, among others.

The jet-setting financier also hobnobbed with Trump allies Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin and Rudy Giuliani at a Hamptons film screening in 2010, just two months after his release from prison in Florida.  

Friend Euan Rellie, told Tatler: ‘Every single interesting, pretty, new girl to arrive in New York would end up going for tea with Ghislaine, then being introduced to Jeffrey. She was the acceptable face of a rather mysterious billionaire.’  

She has even been described as the ‘madam of the house’ by a former housekeeper at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Hitherto, she has always emphatically denied misconduct.

‘She inherited her father’s slightly bombastic charisma, and is one of those people who successfully trades on the fact that she knows lots of other fancy people, including Clintons, Kennedys and various royals,’ said one acquaintance. 

Maxwell has an astonishing network of high profile friends and acquaintances. She is shown at Chelsea Clinton's 2010 wedding

Maxwell has an astonishing network of high profile friends and acquaintances. She is shown at Chelsea Clinton's 2010 wedding

Maxwell has an astonishing network of high profile friends and acquaintances. She is shown at Chelsea Clinton’s 2010 wedding 

Maxwell and Bill Clinton on the Lolita Express - Epstein's private jet that was used to ferry underage girls to his private island in the Caribbean and his ranch in New Mexico

Maxwell and Bill Clinton on the Lolita Express - Epstein's private jet that was used to ferry underage girls to his private island in the Caribbean and his ranch in New Mexico

Maxwell and Bill Clinton on the Lolita Express – Epstein’s private jet that was used to ferry underage girls to his private island in the Caribbean and his ranch in New Mexico 

Maxwell is pictured meeting Princess Diana in 1984. Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener's son, to society

Maxwell is pictured meeting Princess Diana in 1984. Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener's son, to society

Maxwell is pictured meeting Princess Diana in 1984. Maxwell used her impeccable social contacts, like her friendship with the Prince, to introduce Epstein, a gardener’s son, to society

In return, she used the financier's millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons. Maxwell is pictured with model Naomi Cambell in 2002

In return, she used the financier's millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons. Maxwell is pictured with model Naomi Cambell in 2002

In return, she used the financier’s millions to support a lavish lifestyle which included a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a wardrobe of designer clothes and helicopter lessons. Maxwell is pictured with model Naomi Cambell in 2002 

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, and musician Michael Bolton pose for a portrait during a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, and musician Michael Bolton pose for a portrait during a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, and musician Michael Bolton pose for a portrait during a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000

Donald Trump and Ghislaine Maxwell attend Anand Jon Fashion Show in 2000 in NYC

Donald Trump and Ghislaine Maxwell attend Anand Jon Fashion Show in 2000 in NYC

Donald Trump and Ghislaine Maxwell attend Anand Jon Fashion Show in 2000 in NYC

It was at Maxwell's Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first 'sex trafficked' her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied

It was at Maxwell's Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first 'sex trafficked' her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied

It was at Maxwell’s Belgravia Mews house that Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Epstein first ‘sex trafficked’ her to the Prince when she was just 17. It is a charge the Prince has continuously and vehemently denied

THE CHARGES 

Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (5 years max sentence)

Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts (20 years)

Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (20 years)

Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (10 years minimum, life maximum)

X 2 counts of Perjury (x 10 years)

Maxwell lived for years with Epstein and was his frequent travel companion on trips around the world. 

Epstein killed himself in a federal detention center in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. He  was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was free a little after a year in prison.

Maxwell has, for years, been accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges. 

The indictment said that as early as 1994, Maxwell would ‘entice and groom’ minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families. 

Special Agent William Sweeney said at a press conference that the FBI took her into custody after ‘discreetly keeping tabs’ on her for some time and that she recently moved to the property. It’s unclear who owns the property or exactly how long she had been there but agents ‘moved in’ this morning. 

‘We have been discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell for some time’, Sweeney said. ‘She slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims continue to live with the trauma inflicted on them years earlier.’ 

Deborah Blohm, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Gwendolyn Beck at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, 1995

Deborah Blohm, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Gwendolyn Beck at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, 1995

Deborah Blohm, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Gwendolyn Beck at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, 1995

Ghislaine Maxwell, Naomi Campbell, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss attend Dolce & Gabbana Opening at Dolce & Gabbana on November 11, 2002

Ghislaine Maxwell, Naomi Campbell, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss attend Dolce & Gabbana Opening at Dolce & Gabbana on November 11, 2002

Ghislaine Maxwell, Naomi Campbell, Donald Trump and Melania Knauss attend Dolce & Gabbana Opening at Dolce & Gabbana on November 11, 2002

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in 2005. An indictment said she facilitated Epstein's crimes by 'helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse ' girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in 2005. An indictment said she facilitated Epstein's crimes by 'helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse ' girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in 2005. An indictment said she facilitated Epstein’s crimes by ‘helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse ‘ girls as young as 14. It also said she participated in the sexual abuse

Recent years have seen Maxwell quietly holed up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, north of Boston, with tech company boss Scott Borgerson. 

She has not been seen in public since a photograph emerged of her sitting outside an In’N’Out Burger restaurant in Los Angeles in August. Reports soon emerged those images may have been ‘faked’ by her lawyer to disguise her whereabouts.  

Now she must face allegations of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury. 

The charges relate to incidents that happened between 1994 and 1997 and involve three unnamed victims, the youngest of whom was 14. The alleged abuse happened at Epstein’s homes in New York, Florida and New Mexico and at Maxwell’s home in London. 

If convicted, she could face life in prison on the most serious charge – transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity – which carries a minimum 10 year sentence. 

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