Ghislaine Maxwell was never going to turn up shivering in a backwoods cabin or swatting away bugs in some grass hut on an uncharted tropical island.
The public-school and Oxford-educated socialite was the spoilt favourite child of an indulgent tycoon father, and moneyed companion of billionaires and heads of state. The woman who was until this week the world’s most famous fugitive hasn’t let her standards slip.
When the FBI and police finally caught up with her on Thursday morning, it was at the imposing entrance to a luxurious New England home worth more than $1million (£860,000) which she’d bought in cash in December – continuing what the FBI acidly described as her ‘life of privilege’.
The contrast with her former companion and alleged partner-in-crime Jeffrey Epstein, who spent his final days looking over his shoulder in a grim New York jail cell, couldn’t have been more stark.
A year ago this month, the paedophile financier was arrested in Manhattan for the sex trafficking of minors. The alleged ‘madam’ accused of procuring him underage girls and sometimes taking part in the abuse herself mysteriously slipped out of sight.
Maxwell was photographed sitting in an outdoor Los Angeles burger bar (pictured) days after Epstein’s death. However, it was revealed the picture had been staged, designed to throw pursuers off the scent
Maxwell, the 58-year-old daughter of the late, disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert, was photographed sitting in an outdoor Los Angeles burger bar days after Epstein’s death. However, it was revealed the picture had been staged, designed to throw pursuers off the scent.
So where was she? The disappearing act, even as the FBI made clear it wanted to talk to her, was so impressive some concluded her bevy of rich and powerful friends must have been sheltering her.
The sightings and rumours were appropriately glamorous and exciting – she was reportedly staying at the £2million seafront home in Massachusetts of a rich boyfriend, Scott Borgerson, and later she was spotted at a ritzy resort in Brazil with a friend of Epstein, the boss of a model agency.
Maxwell’s mother Elisabeth was French and she has family in France, so it didn’t seem too surprising when it was rumoured she was staying in a chateau in the south of that country; only a few days ago, we were confidently told she was staying in the Paris flat of a French millionaire.
Jeffery Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell was found by the FBI and police in a $1m luxury New England home, pictured above
And given rumours that Epstein and Maxwell were Mossad spies, nor did it sound completely outrageous when she was reported to be living in an Israeli ‘safe house’. In February, it was even claimed she was hiding on a submarine.
The reality, it has now emerged, is less thrilling. According to US prosecutors, Maxwell spent the year ‘hiding out in locations in New England’, finally finding what she thought was the perfect bolthole, one so secure and secluded that nobody would find her. The large hillside home she bought in December in the isolated and deathly quiet New Hampshire town of Bradford, certainly lives up to its name – Tuckedaway.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t tucked away enough. The FBI not only arrested her there on Thursday morning but then filed a court memo which laid bare how its investigators had known a lot more about what Maxwell has been up to than she probably realised.
Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in October 2016, in one of her final social appearances
THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MAXWELL
- 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)
Prosecutors say Maxwell groomed three girls between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein.
They are not named in the indictment, but she allegedly targeted them in London, Florida, New York and New Mexico.
Maxwell, it is alleged, would befriend the girls by asking them about their life and their schooling. She would put them at ease by taking them to the movies and taking them shopping, winning their trust to later deliver them to Epstein, it’s alleged.
To ‘normalize’ the abuse that would come later, prosecutors say she undressed in front of the girls herself and asked them sexual questions.
She then not only facilitated Epstein abusing them, prosecutors say, but took part in some of it herself.
The alleged sex abuse includes ‘sexualized group massages’.
The indictment also says Maxwell made the girl feel ‘indebted’ to Epstein by encouraging them to take money from him and let him pay for their education and travel.
Describing how she went to ‘extreme lengths’ to remain undetected over the past 12 months, they said she had moved at least twice in that time but remained in New England – one of those locations could well have been the boyfriend’s multi-million pound home in Massachusetts.
Not only that, she switched her primary phone number, which she registered under the name ‘G Max’, and email address, ordering delivery packages under a pseudonym.
Maxwell did all she could to move to Bradford without leaving a trace, say investigators and the estate agent who handled the deal. After the vendor of the house refused to let her buy it without her name being on purchase papers, Maxwell did it through what officials called a ‘carefully anonymised LLC’, a private company set up to conceal her identity.
And she hasn’t been alone in all these shenanigans. A mystery man with a posh English accent accompanied Maxwell twice to look at the property, presenting themselves to the estate agent as husband and wife.
The agent concluded Maxwell must have been a film star as the man was so anxious to keep her identity a secret. He sounds like the same tall and bearded man who opened the door to police on Thursday morning.
Maxwell reportedly ran into a bedroom but eventually came out, demanding her lawyer.
The charges are extremely serious, carrying a risk of life imprisonment if she is found guilty.
Prosecutors have further justified their insistence that Maxwell is denied bail by pointing to evidence of her huge wealth, arguing she poses a flight risk. She is currently held in a nearby jail. An American investigation of her finances found she had held 15 bank accounts since 2016 and that huge amounts have been transferred between them and between accounts associated with Epstein.
In total, Maxwell is alleged to have received more than $20million from Epstein between 2007 and 2011.
In addition, she admitted she has foreign bank accounts with more than $1million in them, said officials. She also received a large sum from the proceeds from a house she sold in Midtown Manhattan in 2016 for $15million (£12.1million), and which may have been given to her by Epstein.
At about the time she sold the mansion, and US authorities began examining hundreds of criminal complaints against Epstein, Maxwell – once ubiquitous on the New York social scene – started shunning the limelight. In 2017, her lawyers told a judge that they had no idea where she was. They thought she might be in London, but claimed to have no current address.
And yet investigators now say she has taken at least 15 international flights, including to Britain, Qatar and Japan, in the past three years. She has three passports – British, American and French.
Audrey Strauss, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, gestures as she speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Maxwell on Thursday
While using the passports would have rung alarm bells, it appears she has been able to travel within the US. Henk van Ess, a respected Dutch investigator, claimed on Thursday that by working out Maxwell’s computer address from emails she sent to an environmental charity she set up, he had been able to plot her locations, finding that she recently travelled from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire.
Experts believe the FBI didn’t act earlier because it was waiting until it believed it had a copper-bottomed case against her.
Her closest neighbour in Bradford, who asked to be identified as ‘John’, said he had noticed an unusually higher number of helicopters and light planes flying overhead since she bought the house in December. Might she have been aware she was being watched? Interestingly, the agent who sold Maxwell the house said she had asked questions about how often planes flew over the property.
As to what she has been doing in hiding, Vanity Fair yesterday cited friends who say her once-opulent life has been ‘stripped down to the bare essentials’ – iPhone, iPad, laptop, casual clothing, and an inexpensive pressure cooker with which she emulated her Cordon Bleu–trained mother’s French recipes: Beef bourguignon, red cabbage and apples, and leek soup.
She keeps fit obsessively, running and swimming. Before gyms closed down, she regularly boxed.
She began to take extra precautions when she started receiving death threats, both online and by phone. The threats accelerated with Epstein’s arrest and have become ‘a routine part of her life’.
Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center (pictured) last August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges
Every day she spoke with her lawyers about her defence, paying a team in New York, Colorado, the UK and the Virgin Islands rates of up to $1,500 an hour.
A friend said: ‘She speaks to lawyers and blood relatives. That is her universe. Defending all of these cases is a full-time job.’
At night, she read – including Boris Johnson’s biography of Churchill and a book about Epstein by Bradley Edwards, the Florida lawyer who pursued him.
Bradford is a classic pretty little New England town of 1,650 people with white clapboard houses and – as every resident was happy to admit – nothing going on.
Hearty summer pursuits of hiking, camping and boating on the numerous local lakes are attractions, while amenities don’t run beyond a takeaway pizza restaurant, a branch of Dunkin’ Donuts, a petrol station, a small organic vegetables market and a restaurant offering ‘casual country dining’ which staff categorically confirmed Maxwell had never visited. Most of the neighbours are blue-collar types in modest homes.
It is, for all these reasons, possibly the last place one would expect to find a jet-setting, networking, party-loving bon viveuse like Ghislaine Maxwell. But it’s one great strength was its near-invisibility. The entrance is a heavily wooded track running off a remote hilly road, unsurfaced in places, on the outskirts of Bradford.
The timber-frame house has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and sweeping views of the Mount Sunapee foothills.
Built in 2002, it has a ‘great room’ with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and ‘cathedral ceiling’.
Many locals weren’t even aware it existed and drove round looking for it after news of the arrest broke. ‘We’ve been here 20 years and this is the most excitement we’ve ever had,’ said neighbour Tricia Dunne. Dick Morris, who lives opposite her drive, wasn’t fazed by her infamy. ‘She was just trying to keep herself out of prison,’ he said.
Why Covid may keep Ghislaine Maxwell behind bars for longer
By Daniel Bates in New York for The Daily Mail
Ghislaine Maxwell’s attempt to win bail could be held up by coronavirus-related delays in the US prison system.
The alleged madam of Jeffrey Epstein might be stuck in jail in New Hampshire for weeks before she is moved to New York to be formally arraigned on child sex trafficking charges.
Her bail application could also be compromised by a ten-page detention memo saying she was an ‘extreme’ flight risk and there was ‘compelling proof of guilt’.
Prosecutors said the 58-year-old hid from the FBI by changing email addresses and phone numbers which she registered to ‘G Max’. Maxwell is believed to be at Merrimack County Jail, which has released 13 inmates early after a guard tested positive for coronavirus.
But the Bureau of Prisons is backlogged with sentenced inmates awaiting transfer due to the virus so a transfer to New York may take some time.
Ghislaine Maxwell (right), the alleged madam of Jeffery Epstein (left), might be stuck in jail in New Hampshire for weeks before she is moved to New York to be formally arraigned because of delays in the US prison system caused by the coronavirus
During a brief appearance at a federal court in New Hampshire on Thursday, Maxwell waived her right to challenge her transfer to New York. It was thought her legal team would try to get her before a judge in New York yesterday, ahead of the Independence Day weekend.
But no hearing was listed and it appears Maxwell will spend a long weekend behind bars because Monday is a federal holiday and courts will be closed.
She faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted and has an ‘extraordinary incentive to flee’ and the means to do so, the prosecutors allege.
Their detention memo said that between 2016 and today the FBI found 15 bank accounts in Maxwell’s name with balances ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $20million (£16million).
Maxwell allegedly holds additional bank accounts in foreign countries with balances of more than $1million.
She moved large amounts of money last year including $300,000 from one account to another in July, the same month Epstein was indicted on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell has passports for three countries – Britain, the US and France – and has taken at least 15 international flights over the past three years including to Japan and Qatar.
After Epstein was arrested Maxwell ‘stopped appearing in public entirely’, the memo states. It claims: ‘Instead (she was) hiding out in locations in New England.
Ghislaine Maxwell is spending her first few nights in custody in the Merrimack County Jail in New Hampshire, pictured above
‘Moreover, it appears that she made intentional efforts to avoid detection, including moving locations at least twice, switching her primary phone number (which she registered under the name “G Max”) and email address, and ordering packages for delivery with a different person listed on the shipping label’.
The detention memo also states that Maxwell sold a townhouse in New York for £12million in 2016 through a company that she owned.
Yesterday victims of Epstein, who killed himself in prison, renewed their attacks on Maxwell, who has always denied any wrongdoing. She is accused of enticing underage girls so that she and the paedophile financier could abuse them.
Jennifer Araoz, who claims Epstein raped her when she was 14, told ABC News: ‘Epstein and his network of enablers stole from me. They robbed me of my youth, my identity, my innocence and my self worth.’
Her lawyer Daniel Kaiser said: ‘Ghislaine Maxwell is a monster and she’s now in custody. And that’s a very good thing.
‘Maxwell was the ringmaster, she was the architect of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex ring. She hid it. She maintained it.’