Why Men Flocked to Jeffrey Epstein
What I would be quite confused about, if I were a juror in the Maxwell trial, would be the fleeting allusions to rich or powerful men who have made cameo appearances via courtroom mentions.
We’ve heard that Epstein had photographs of himself with Pope John Paul II and Fidel Castro.
We’ve heard that Epstein brought “Jane,” the pseudonymous Accuser Number One, to sing at Mike Wallace’s 80th birthday party.
We’ve heard testimony that passengers on Epstein’s planes included Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Itzhak Perlman, and John Glenn.
There’s been mention made of the fact that the billionaire retailer Leslie Wexner was Epstein’s client and that the hedge-fund manager Glenn Dubin might have been a client, though pilot David Rodgers was not sure when asked.
But the array of plutocratic males has, so far, just blurred into the background. The focus of this trial, its foreground, has exclusively been Epstein’s depravity with females—with, so it is alleged, Ghislaine Maxwell either looking on or enabling at times. (Maxwell has denied all charges.)
There’s been no suggestion in this trial that any of the men mentioned had anything to do with any of the women they met through Epstein—although, outside this case, we know there have been some accusations of impropriety. As many people are aware, Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre is currently suing Prince Andrew for sexually abusing her when she was underage. (He has denied her allegations.) She has also named other men as her abusers; they have all denied the allegations.
But if I were a juror, I’d be asking myself: What did these men see in Epstein, who has been portrayed in court as a sick, perverted man whose time, chiefly, seems to have been spent getting sexualized massages?
Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 12, 2000. || Davidoff Studios Photography / Getty
Many of my male sources admit that Epstein’s “lifestyle” and the presence of attractive women, who they say they thought were all in their 20s, was of course “pleasant.”
But a handful or so of sources, including interestingly one successful businesswoman, say that Epstein’s allure was much more complicated than that.
A few of the men I know who knew Epstein (and they do not want to be public about that now) have told me they were drawn to Epstein because he truly did have something that Dr. Park Dietz, an expert witness for Maxwell’s defense team, calls the “halo effect.”
From pre-trial filings, we know that Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist, is likely to say something along the lines of: “Jeffrey Epstein was a brilliant man who was flawed by enduring personality traits known to psychiatrists as ‘Cluster B personality traits’ found among those with antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, and histrionic personality disorders. These personality traits allowed Epstein to use his brilliance to manipulate people to do his bidding and to compartmentalize people into isolated cells in which none had complete information about his activities.”
(The government will likely argue that this still doesn’t exonerate Maxwell’s conduct.)
So, how did this “halo effect” actually manifest itself?
A male source of mine who knew Epstein well until the late 1990s or so described to me what it was like to be around Epstein. What he says is typical of what a lot of men say about Epstein.
First, Epstein was perceived as “brilliant,” my source said:
“People really thought he was a genius. I don't know, literal genius, but highly, highly unusually intelligent, which I think he was about certain things like patterns. He would, he would look at numbers and see patterns. I mean, things like understanding trading, understanding derivatives, understanding math, science. He would impress people.”
The source mentioned that Epstein’s talent as a pianist reinforced this.
Second, there was the cultivation of mystique around Epstein’s money. My source told me:
“Well, you never really got a lot out of him. You never really got straight answers. You know, he would tell you, ‘I only handle billionaires,’ which wasn't true. He, he set up this mystique about himself and then he lived like nobody else with servants and all this, that, and nobody could figure out anything. So it was mysterious.”
Third, Epstein never appeared to work. My source again:
“It never really looked like he was working. You didn't know what to make out of it…Like he once said to me something like, ‘Can you imagine how rich I'd be if I worked?’ And I thought, ‘Wow.’”
Fourth, what Epstein actually did was talk on the phone:
“I think he spent a lot of time talking to people. On the phone, you know, in meetings, but on the phone. But he, he talked to people all the time. That was his trade.“
How could phone calls make Epstein this fascinating, alluring powerful man? Because he was using subject matter from one call as bait for another. My source again:
“The conversations helped him put together his life in the way that he wanted. So, you know, they made him important. He would say, ‘Well, I was talking to Clinton today and such and such.’ He would put together his persona that way. He's got 24 hours a day. Here's a guy who spends zero time emotionally on his, on his emotional life. So he sleeps four or five hours a day and he spends the rest of his time congregating with people, manipulating people, reading, learning, things that all feed his persona.”
I’ve been asked a lot recently if Epstein killed himself or if something more nefarious happened on August 10, 2019. When you think about what I’ve just written, suicide would make sense.
By August of 2019, it’s possible Epstein’s money had lost its relevance to him, because he couldn’t make all his phone calls, he couldn’t name-drop strategically, and he couldn’t be the person he wanted to be seen as. So, it occurs to me, it’s possible he gave up.
Interestingly, Maxwell hasn’t. She has decided to fight. Why she has decided that, I suspect, is precisely what we are about to hear from the defense, as well as more details about Epstein’s “halo effect” and what people other than his accusers saw—or didn’t see—about him. So stay tuned. We’ll be back in court tomorrow.