Ghislaine Maxwell (/ - /, ghee-LAYN, -LEN; born 25 December 1961) is a British socialite and the youngest child of publishing tycoon and fraudster Robert Maxwell. She moved to the United States after her father's death in 1991 and became a close associate of financier and subsequently convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell has faced allegations of procuring and sexually trafficking underage girls for Epstein and others, charges she emphatically denies.
Maxwell founded the ocean-advocacy group The TerraMar Project in 2012. The organisation announced closure on 12 July 2019, a week after the sex trafficking charges brought by New York federal prosecutors against Epstein became public.
Ghislaine Maxwell was born in 1961, in Maisons-Laffitte, France, the ninth and youngest child of Elisabeth (née Meynard), a French-born scholar, and Robert Maxwell, a Czech-born British media proprietor. Her father was from a Jewish family and her mother was of Huguenot descent. Maxwell was born two days before a car accident left her older brother Michael in a prolonged coma at age 15, unresponsive for several years until his death in 1967. Her mother reflected that the accident had an effect on the entire family, with Ghislaine becoming anorexic while still a toddler. Throughout childhood, Ghislaine resided with her family in Oxford at Headington Hill Hall, a 53-room mansion, where the offices of Pergamon Press, a publishing company run by Robert Maxwell, were also located. Her mother stated that all of her children were brought up Anglican. Maxwell attended Marlborough College, and Balliol College, Oxford.
Maxwell had an unusually close relationship with her father and was widely credited with being her father's favourite child. The Times reported that Robert Maxwell did not permit Ghislaine to bring her boyfriends home or to be seen with them publicly, after she started attending the University of Oxford.
Maxwell was a prominent member of the London social scene in the 1980s. She founded a women's club named after the original Kit-Cat Club and was a director of Oxford United Football Club, during her father's ownership. She also worked at The European, a publication Robert Maxwell had started. According to Tom Bower of The Times, in 1986 Ghislaine's father invited her to visit his new yacht in a shipyard in Holland to celebrate its christening in her honour as the Lady Ghislaine. Maxwell was reported to have spent a large amount of time in the late 1980s aboard her father's yacht, which was equipped with a jacuzzi, a sauna, a gym and private disco. The Scotsman stated that Robert Maxwell had also "tailor made a New York company for her". The company, which focused on corporate gifts, was not profitable.
The Times reported that Maxwell flew to New York on 5 November 1990 to deliver an envelope on her father's behalf that, unknown to her, was part of "a plot initiated by her father to steal $200m" from Berlitz shareholders.
After her father purchased the New York Daily News in January 1991, he sent her to New York City to act as his emissary. In May 1991, Maxwell and her father took Concorde on business to New York, where he quickly departed for Moscow and left her to represent his interests at an event honouring Simon Wiesenthal. In November 1991, Robert Maxwell's body was found floating in the sea near the Canary Islands and his luxury yacht the Lady Ghislaine. Immediately following his death, Ghislaine flew to Tenerife, where the yacht was stationed, to attend to his business paperwork. Though a verdict of death by accidental drowning was recorded, Maxwell has since stated that she believes her father was murdered, commenting in 1997 that "He did not commit suicide. That was just not consistent with his character. I think he was murdered." After his death, Robert Maxwell was found to have fraudulently appropriated the pension assets of Mirror Group Newspapers, a company that he ran and in which he held a large share of ownership, to support its share price. There were reportedly over £440m in pension funds missing, which left the surviving Maxwell family members and the British government in a bind to repay the 32,000 people affected.
Ghislaine Maxwell moved to the United States in 1991, just after her father's death. Maxwell was photographed boarding a Concorde to cross the Atlantic, causing outrage amidst the pension scandal due to the high cost of flights on that aircraft. She reportedly receives "an £80,000 annual legacy from a trust set up by her father." In 1992, she had moved to an apartment of an Iranian friend overlooking Central Park. At the time, Maxwell worked at a real estate office on Madison Avenue and was reported to be socializing with a group that included Ivana Trump and Adnan Khashoggi's son. Maxwell quickly rose to wider prominence as a New York City socialite.
Maxwell first met American financier Jeffrey Epstein in the early 1990s at a New York party following "a difficult break-up with Count Gianfranco Cicogna" of the Ciga Hotels clan.
Maxwell had a romantic relationship with Epstein for several years in the early 1990s and remained closely associated with him for decades afterwards. The nature of their relationship remains unclear. In a 2009 deposition, several of Epstein's household employees testified that Maxwell had a central role in both his public and private life, referring to her as his "main girlfriend" who also handled the hiring, supervising, and firing of staff starting around 1992. She has also been referred to as the "Lady of the House" by Epstein's staff and as his "aggressive assistant". In a 2003 Vanity Fair profile on Epstein, author Vicky Ward stated that Epstein referred to Maxwell as "my best friend". Ward also observed that Maxwell seemed "to organize much of his life".
Maxwell has attracted press coverage for her friendship with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, who attended social functions with her in New York. Maxwell introduced Epstein to Prince Andrew, and the three often socialized together. In 2000, Maxwell and Epstein attended a party thrown by Prince Andrew at the queen's estate in Norfolk, England, reportedly for Maxwell's 39th birthday. In a November 2019 interview with the BBC, Prince Andrew confirmed that Maxwell and Epstein had attended an event at his invitation but he denied that it was anything more than a "straightforward shooting weekend."
Maxwell has also been associated and photographed with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
In 1995, Epstein renamed one of his companies the Ghislaine Corporation; the Palm Beach, Florida company was later dissolved, in 1998.
In 2008, Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served 13 months of an 18-month jail sentence. Following Epstein's release from jail, although Maxwell continued to attend prominent social functions, she and Epstein were no longer seen together publicly.
By late 2015, Maxwell had largely retreated from attending social functions.
Details of a civil lawsuit, made public in January 2015, contained a deposition from a woman, identified as "Jane Doe 3", that accused Ghislaine Maxwell of having recruited her in 1999, when she was a minor, to have sex with Epstein. A 2018 exposé by Julie K. Brown in the Miami Herald revealed Jane Doe 3 to be Virginia Giuffre, who in 1999 was known as Virginia Roberts. Giuffre met Maxwell at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where Giuffre was working at the time. She asserted that Maxwell had introduced her to Epstein, after which she was "groomed by the two [of them] for his pleasure, including lessons in Epstein's preferences during oral sex".
Maxwell has repeatedly denied any involvement in Epstein's crimes. In a 2015 statement, Maxwell rejected allegations that she has acted as a procurer for Epstein and denied that she had "facilitated Prince Andrew's acts of sexual abuse". Maxwell's spokesperson said that "the allegations made against Ghislaine Maxwell are untrue" and that she "strongly denies allegations of an unsavory nature, which have appeared in the British press and elsewhere, and reserves her right to seek redress at the repetition of such old defamatory claims".
Giuffre sued Maxwell in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2015. She asserted that Maxwell and Epstein had trafficked her and other underage girls, often at sex parties hosted by Epstein at his homes in New York, New Mexico, Palm Beach, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maxwell called her a liar. Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation. While details of the settlement have not been made public, in May 2017 the case was settled in Giuffre's favour, with Maxwell paying Giuffre "millions".
The New York Times said that, by 2016, Maxwell was no longer being photographed at events. In April 2016, the New York town house where she had lived was sold for $15 million. By 2017, her lawyers claimed before a judge that they did not know her address; they further said that she was in London but that they did not believe she had a permanent residence.
In 2017, Sarah Ransome filed a suit against Epstein and Maxwell, alleging that Maxwell hired her to give massages to Epstein and later threatened to physically harm her or destroy her career prospects if she did not comply with their sexual demands at his mansion in New York and on his private Caribbean island, Little Saint James. The suit was settled in 2018 under undisclosed terms.
On 16 April 2019, a new accuser, Maria Farmer, went public and filed a sworn affidavit in federal court in New York, alleging that she and her 15-year-old sister had been sexually assaulted by Epstein and Maxwell in separate locations in 1996. According to the affidavit, Farmer had met Maxwell and Epstein at a New York art gallery reception in 1995. The affidavit says that in the summer of the following year, they hired her to work on an art project in billionaire businessman Leslie Wexner's Ohio mansion, where she was then sexually assaulted by both Maxwell and Epstein. Farmer reported the incident to the New York Police Department and the FBI.
Farmer's affidavit also stated that during the same summer, Epstein flew her then 15-year-old sister to his New Mexico property where he and Maxwell molested her on a massage table. Farmer was interviewed for CBS This Morning in November 2019 accusing Maxwell of a phone call threatening her life following a Central Park assault by the two individuals in 1996.
On 14 August 2019, Jennifer Araoz filed a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court against Epstein's estate, Maxwell, and three unnamed members of his staff; the lawsuit was made possible under New York state's new Child Victims Act, which took effect on the same date.
Ghislaine Maxwell was named in one of three lawsuits filed in New York on 20 August 2019 against the estate of Jeffery Epstein. The woman filing the suit, identified as "Priscilla Doe", claimed that she was recruited in 2006 and trained by Maxwell with step-by-step instructions on how to provide sexual services for Epstein.
On 2 July 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the unsealing of documents from the earlier civil suit against Maxwell by Virginia Giuffre. Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on 6 July 2019 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.
Maxwell requested a rehearing in a federal appeals court on 17 July 2019, in an effort to keep documents sealed that were part of a suit by Virginia Giuffre.
On 9 August 2019 the first batch of documents were unsealed and released from the earlier defamation suit by Giuffre against Maxwell. Epstein was found dead on 10 August 2019, after reportedly hanging himself in his Manhattan prison cell.
Later in August 2019, the Rolling Stone magazine and The Times of Israel online newspaper reported that the surroundings of the Epstein case and Gislaine Maxwell are continuously followed by investigators.
In 2012, Maxwell founded The TerraMar Project, a nonprofit organization that advocated the protection of oceans. She gave a lecture for TerraMar at the University of Texas at Dallas and a TED talk, at TEDx Charlottesville in 2014. Maxwell accompanied Stuart Beck, a 2013 TerraMar board member, to two United Nations meetings to discuss the project.
The TerraMar Project announced closure on 12 July 2019, less than a week after charges of sex trafficking brought by New York federal prosecutors against Epstein became public. An associated, UK-based company, Terramar (UK), listed Maxwell as a director. An application for the UK organisation to be officially closed was made on 4 September 2019, with the first notice in The London Gazette made on 17 September 2019. The company Terramar (UK) was listed as officially dissolved on 3 December 2019.
Since at least 1997, Maxwell has maintained a residence in Belgravia, London. In 2000, Maxwell moved into a 7,000-square-foot townhouse on East 65th Street less than 10 blocks from her friend Epstein's New York mansion. The house was purchased for $4.95 million by an anonymous limited liability company, with an address that matches the office of J. Epstein & Co. Representing the buyer was Darren Indyke, Epstein's longtime lawyer.
Following her personal and professional involvement with Jeffrey Epstein, Maxwell was romantically linked for several years to Ted Waitt, founder of Gateway computers. She attended the wedding of Chelsea Clinton in 2010 as Waitt's guest. Maxwell helped Waitt obtain and renovate a luxury yacht, the Plan B, and used it for travel to France and Croatia before their relationship ended, sometime around late 2010 or early 2011.
As of December 2019, Maxwell has not appeared at any public events in recent months, and her whereabouts are unknown.
In August 2019, reports surfaced that Maxwell had been living in Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts, in the home of Scott Borgerson. Maxwell and Borgerson were described as having been in a romantic relationship for several years. Locals in the town of Manchester by the Sea stated that Maxwell had kept a low profile, went by "G" instead of her full first name, and had been seen on several occasions walking a Vizsla dog along the beach. A neighbouring property manager relayed that Maxwell and Borgerson were a couple and had been seen repeatedly running together in the mornings. Borgerson stated in August 2019 that Maxwell was not currently living at the home and that he did not know where she was.
In August 2019, the New York Post published photographs of her allegedly dining at a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles, but doubts have been raised over the veracity of the report. In November 2019, the British tabloid The Sun offered £10,000 (US$13,333) to anyone who can reveal her whereabouts.