Ghislaine Maxwell is awaiting trial on charges accusing her of recruiting minors into a sex trafficking ring for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse. The former socialite and her husband have a combined net worth of $22.5 million, her attorneys revealed in court filings, according to the Associated Press. The subject of Maxwell’s wealth has been discussed by prosecutors and judges, who are investigating any links between Maxwell and Epstein’s finances, and who have determined she was a flight risk because of her access to money.
Documentary filmmakers and investigative reporters are taking a deeper look into Maxwell’s life before her trial, which a New York judge ordered would begin in November 2021. Maxwell’s attorneys told ABC 20/20 they believe Maxwell is being punished in place of Epstein, who died in jail before he could face his charges. Peacock also released a docuseries on Maxwell June 24, 2021, “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell.” 20/20 interviewed Maxwell’s brother, Ian Maxwell, in an episode, “Notorious: Ghislaine Maxwell,” which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, June 25, 2021.
Maxwell, now 59, is being held at MDC Brooklyn, a federal Metropolitan Detention Center, according to her records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She has pleaded not guilty to her charges, which include charges of sex trafficking a minor, sex trafficking conspiracy, transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity and conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, according to NPR.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Maxwell Was the Daughter of British Media Tycoon Robert Maxwell & Grew Up in a 53-Room Mansion
Maxwell grew up in a 53-room mansion, Headington Hill Hall, with her dad, Robert Maxwell, mother, Betty Maxwell, and seven siblings, according to the Headington organization. Robert Maxwell initially leased the building to house his press offices in 1959, but later moved into the 130-year-old home, renovated it and moved the press offices to the stables. He installed cinema-screen televisions in almost every room, the article said. Maxwell also commissioned art for the mansion, including giving Victorian-era stained glass windows a personal touch.
“The original Victorian stained-glass window on the stairs, showing Samson at the gates of Gaza, was damaged during the war, and was replaced by the Maxwells,” the article said. “The new window… created by the Israeli sculptor and ceramicist Nehemia Azaz, is believed to depict Robert Maxwell himself as Samson.”
The writer continued that Maxwell added so much security to the mansion that it became like a “fortress.” Meanwhile, his press staffers nicknamed the company the “Purgatory Press.”
“With nearly a hundred years of security ahead of him, Maxwell turned the Headington Hill Hall site into a fortress,” the article said. “Guards were posted at the main entrance, the fence was reinforced with barbed wire, and video cameras were fixed to trees. Staff were kept away from the main house and its swimming pool and tennis court, although the old kitchen wing of the mansion was used as offices. Speakers were fitted to every office so that Maxwell could make announcements to the staff, who called the firm they worked for ‘Purgatory Press.'”
Robert Maxwell had been one of the world’s richest men, but his media empire eventually crumbled, he defaulted on massive loans, and hundreds of millions in pounds was diverted from his company’s pension funds, a fact that was discovered after his death in 1991, according to Time. It was not known whether Ghislaine Maxwell inherited assets from her father, or whether she was left penniless, the article said. Her older brother declared the largest personal bankruptcy in U.K. history due to the scandals that surrounded Robert Maxwell’s company, Time reported.
“It is very unclear whether the defendant is receiving proceeds from trust accounts or an inheritance or means of other kinds,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said at a 2020 bail hearing, according to Time.
Moe further said prosecutors were made aware of a Swiss trust holding more than $4 million and benefitting Maxwell. A relative served as a trustee, the article said.
Maxwell’s attorney, Mark Cohen, said at the hearing Maxwell disclosed the Swiss account in a filing with the Internal Revenue Service and that one of the fund transfers was due to the maturation of a $500,000 bond, according to Time.
Harvey Bezozi, an accountant and financial adviser in Greenwich, Connecticut, told Time that Robert Maxwell likely tried to protect some of his assets for his family.
“I would imagine that the family inheritance or trust was constructed by a highly competent estate tax attorney,” Bezozi told Time.
“It could be an elaborate shell game — where the peanut’s underneath the shell and it keeps moving around and there are more and more shells,” Jordan Waxman, managing partner of New York wealth management firm Nucleus Advisors, told Time.
2. Maxwell’s Wealth & Assets Have Been Discussed Multiple Times at Bail Hearings & a Judge Determined She Was a Flight Risk
Maxwell’s wealth and assets have been the subject of controversy and discussion throughout the ongoing sex trafficking case. The extent of her wealth was only recently made clear when her attorneys filed documents saying she had $22.5 million in combined total assets, along with her husband, the Associated Press reported.
The court filing was a request to set bail for Maxwell in a $28.5 million bail package, which said if she posted bail she would be kept under 24-hour guard in a New York City apartment and wear an electronic bracelet, the article said. Prosecutors opposed the package, saying she was a flight risk due to multiple citizenships in the United States, the United Kingdom and France and “because she had access to considerable wealth and connections abroad,” the article said.
Maxwell’s attorneys requested multiple times that bail be set in her case. At previous hearings, they claimed her wealth was substantially lower than the $22.5 million which was later revealed, according to Time.
“At a basic level, the defense argument is that she cannot remember off the top of her head just how many millions of dollars she has,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said at one of Maxwell’s bail hearings in 2020, Time reported.
At that time, Maxwell claimed she had less than $1 million in the bank and no monthly income, a claim which the prosecutor called “implausible,” according to Time.
3. Maxwell Was Associated With More Than 15 Bank Accounts With Balances Ranging From Hundreds of Thousands to More Than $20 Million
Prosecutors said at a bail hearing for Maxwell in 2020 that she was associated with more than 15 bank accounts from 2016 to 2020 and that those accounts had balances which ranged from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million, according to Time. She also owned at least two townhouses, including one in Manhattan she sold for $15 million in 2016, and one in London she still owned at the time of the hearing and offered as a bail guarantee, the article said.
Mark Cohen, one of Maxwell’s attorneys, disputed the claim that Maxwell was “associated” with 15 bank accounts, Time reported.
“No detail, no explanation to the court, just more dirt,” Cohen said, according to Time. “Well, she has three bank accounts that she disclosed.”
He further said the proceed from the sale of her Manhattan townhouse had been depleted by expenses including “extensive, substantial litigation,” Time reported. Maxwell settled a lawsuit in 2017 with undisclosed terms with Epstein victim Virginia Guiffre, Time reported. In 2020, she was paying four lawyers to defend her against her criminal charges, the article said.
4. Prosecutors Alleged More Than $20 Million Was Transferred From Offshore Accounts Associated With Epstein to Maxwell
Prosecutors claimed more than $20 million was transferred from offshore accounts associated with Epstein to several accounts associated with Maxwell between 2007 and 2011, and millions were later transferred back, according to Time. Jordan Waxman, managing partner of New York wealth management firm Nucleus Advisors, told the publication the transfer amount seemed low, and said he suspected the $20 million may have been “the tip of the iceberg.”
“I would venture to say 20 is probably what they found so far and that the net worth would be substantially more,” Waxman told Time. “The other thing is Jeffrey Epstein allegedly was worth $570-or-so million. What was she doing as his No. 2 and only with $20 million?”
5. Maxwell Connected Epstein With the Global Elite & Names Were Collected in the So-Called ‘Little Black Book’
Maxwell used her connections from growing up in British high society to connect Epstein with the global elite, which included politicians and members of royalty, according to Time. Mother Jones reported that anyone who had contact with Epstein or Maxwell appeared in a “little black book,” which included 97 pages of 1,571 names, thousands of email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses.
Epstein’s employees called the book of Epstein’s contacts “the Holy Grail,” Mother Jones reported. The book first appeared in court when Epstein’s former butler, Alfredo Rodriguez, tried to sell it to lawyers representing Epstein’s victims for $50,000.
Thirty-eight of the names are circled for reasons that are not yet known, the article said.
“There are celebrities, princes and princesses, high-profile scientists, artists from all over the world, all alongside some of the world’s most powerful oligarchs and political leaders—people like Prince Andrew (circled), Ehud Barak (circled), Donald Trump (circled),” the article said.
A source told ABC 20/20 the story of Maxwell is “a fairy tale told the wrong way around.”
“The princess starts life in a palace,” he says. “And she ends up in a kind of dungeon.”