SHE is the woman lurking in the background in a now-infamous photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around a teenage girl.
But Ghislaine Maxwell — the youngest child of disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell — may soon step out of the shadows and reveal secrets about the depraved world of the prince’s dead paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein.
Ghislaine Maxwell is the British socialite who introduced paedo Jeffrey Epstein to Prince Andrew[/caption]
Her dad was the crooked newspaper owner who died after falling from his £15million yacht, named Lady Ghislaine after his favourite daughter, as banks he owed nearly £4billion to closed in.
Although it is nearly 30 years since Maxwell drowned, his daughter is still convinced the former Labour MP was murdered and pushed off the yacht near the Canary Islands.
An inquest ruled he fell overboard accidentally, while critics, including workers whose pensions he plundered, were certain he jumped to escape prosecution.
Maxwell’s biographer Tom Bower, who has known Ghislaine since she was 11, said that all her life she has “worshipped rich, domineering men”.
‘LUST FOR WEALTH AND POWER’
First it was her bullying, brutish father. But when he died, she became attracted to Epstein and other billionaires with a shady past and a closet full of dark secrets.
Yesterday we told that in court documents released just before Epstein died, Ghislaine is accused of performing a sex act on Hollywood actor George Clooney, although there is no suggestion Clooney was involved in underage sex, Epstein sex parties or in any wrongdoing.
And Virginia Giuffre, the then 17-year-old girl pictured with the prince, claims Ghislaine recruited her to be a “sex slave” and that she was loaned out to celebrities.
The court documents released last week also claim that Ghislaine not only procured young girls for Epstein but took part in sex sessions with them.
The allegations, which she denies, are a far cry from the life Ghislaine’s father — Czech immigrant refugee Jan Hoch who transformed himself into London publisher Robert Maxwell — planned for the youngest of his seven children.
She was brought up at Headington Hall, a 53-room mansion set in 14 acres near Oxford, and went to Kate Middleton’s school Marlborough College. She then won a place at Oxford University as a Maxwell scholar — the scholarship scheme her father set up in his name to fund poor students. At college she was banned from taking boyfriends home because Maxwell feared any man interested in his daughter had to be a gold digger. But her father, who was once chairman of football clubs Oxford United and Derby County, did throw her a 21st birthday party at the hall.
He invited Ghislaine’s friends before turning off the electricity at 11pm because he was irritated by their choice of music.
Ghislaine, pronounced Gilaine, was nicknamed “The Shopper” because of her wild spending funded by Daddy’s millions. He also bankrolled her corporate gifts business that ended in disaster.
Maxwell once said the only members of his family who deserved to inherit on his death were son Kevin and Ghislaine.
The tycoon told his Russian mistress Kira Vladina: “I adore both of them. Kevin is so much like me and Ghislaine is a friend.”
But Tom Bower says she too was just like her father, claiming: “He encouraged her to adopt his worst characteristics of arrogance and rudeness, tempered by charm when required. She also inherited her father’s lust for wealth and power.”
After Maxwell’s death in November 1991 it was Ghislaine, who can speak five languages, who went to Tenerife with £15,000 to give to the captain of his yacht.
But Ghislaine, then 29, was so appalled at the state of the yacht and the way the crew denigrated her father’s reputation that she refused to hand over the cash.
At Maxwell’s funeral on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, she spoke for all his children and vowed: “Dad’s principles will always guide us through life.”
After his death, the scale of Maxwell’s crooked dealings became apparent and while he had stolen from his workers’ pensions, Ghislaine reportedly inherited £80,000 a year from a family trust fund.
Friends say that as the scandal — which saw her brothers Kevin and Ian brought to court then cleared — unfolded, Ghislaine “grew a second skin and icy resolve”.
Although she still owns two houses in Britain, she moved permanently to the US and fell under the spell of another rich, domineering man with a shady past — pervert Jeffrey Epstein.
With her fine tastes, excellent connections and a whiff of scandal, she was often on society pages. She once sat next to actor George Hamilton in first class on a plane from New York to London. By the time the flight was over, George agreed to take her to the Derby in his helicopter.
In 1995, a rumoured marriage to Epstein never happened and though Epstein always claimed Ghislaine was a friend, she was employed to look after and supply staff for his six mansions and his private plane.
In April 2000, Ghislaine, who introduced Andrew to Epstein, was spotted holding hands with the royal during an intimate lunch at Nello restaurant in Madison Avenue, New York. Ghislaine and Andrew were not lovers.
In June 2000, Epstein and Ghislaine were among guests at the Dance of the Decades party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, Princess Anne’s 50th, Princess Margaret’s 70th and Prince William’s 18th.
In the autumn the prince appeared at a “hookers and bondage” party in Manhattan where Ghislaine dressed as a streetwalker. That December, Andrew threw a birthday party for Ghislaine at Sandringham and Epstein was there.
At Christmas, Andrew left the Royal Family’s annual gathering at Sandringham to join Ghislaine and Epstein in Phuket, Thailand, for New Year. He was photographed sunbathing on a yacht with topless young women.
Buckingham Palace has denied all allegations against the Duke of York.
‘GIVE JEFFREY WHAT HE WANTS’
Virginia Giuffre, the girl in the 2001 photo with Andrew, claims Ghislaine recruited her in the summer of 2000 at a spa in Mar-a-Largo, Florida, and would train her to be a masseuse for Epstein. In a video with the Miami Herald, Virginia alleged: “It was everything down to how to give oral sex, how to be quiet, be subservient, give Jeffrey what he wants.
“A lot of this training came from Ghislaine herself. Being a woman, it kind of surprises you that a woman could let stuff like that happen. Not only let it happen but to groom you into doing it.” In depositions, unsealed last week, Virginia described being loaned out sexually to important men. She added: “My whole life revolved around just pleasing these men and keeping Ghislaine and Jeffrey happy. Ghislaine told me from her mouth to do these things.”
She was asked: “It is your contention that Ghislaine Maxwell had sex with underage girls virtually every day when (you were) around her, correct?”
She replied: “Yes.” In a video deposition it is also claimed Ghislaine took another girl’s passport away from her.
Ghislaine has always denied the allegations. In a deposition, She said: “It’s borne out of years of feeling the pressure of this entire lie that she has perpetrated.”
She added that Virginia’s story is “100 per cent false”.
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Tom Bower last saw Ghislaine six years ago at a party in St Tropez. He said: “We stood having a drink. Inside the glass-walled bar a naked girl was writhing. Ghislaine showed no surprise.
“Nor did she express emotion when a rocket from the party’s fireworks hit a beach hut that burst into flames.
“In 40 years, the sweet little girl has become a hardened woman.”
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