In a report published Monday in The New York Times, James B. Stewart describes the day “exactly a year ago” that he visited the “cavernous Manhattan mansion” of Jeffrey Epstein for a 90-minute conversation with the disgraced billionaire, who was found dead in his high-security jail cell on Saturday after hanging himself.
“The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it,” Stewart writes. “He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.”
Stewart adds, “So one of my first thoughts on hearing of Mr. Epstein’s suicide was that many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him.”
Stewart says that during their conversation, the convicted sex offender “made no secret of his own scandalous past — he’d pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution from underage girls and was a registered sex offender — and acknowledged to me that he was a pariah in polite society.”
But he also seemed “unapologetic,” suggesting that his notorious status “was what made so many people willing to confide in him,” Stewart writes. “Everyone, he suggested, has secrets and, he added, compared with his own, they seemed innocuous.” For this reason, people would often confide in him, he told Stewart suggestively.
While Epstein was “reticent” about discussing what Stewart had actually visited to discuss with him, his work with Tesla, Epstein “was more at ease discussing his interest in young women.”
“He said that criminalizing sex with teenage girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was perfectly acceptable,” Stewart writes. “He pointed out that homosexuality had long been considered a crime and was still punishable by death in some parts of the world.”
Among the details Stewart notes about his visit with Epstein at the mansion — one of the locations where investigators say the financier brought in underage girls as part of a sex trafficking ring he ran for years — is a couple of notable pictures among others Epstein displayed on a table in a large room at the rear of his house that apparently served as an office.
“I noticed one of Mr. Epstein with former President Bill Clinton, and another of him with the director Woody Allen,” writes Stewart. “Displaying photos of celebrities who had been caught up in sex scandals of their own also struck me as odd.”
Stewart also notes that Epstein called him about a week after the interview and asked if he’d like to join him for dinner that weekend with Allen. Stewart declined, saying he’d be out of town.
Months later, Epstein contacted Stewart to ask him, almost “plaintive[ly]” if he’d be interested in being his biographer, but Stewart declined. “That was the last I heard from him. After his arrest and suicide, I’m left to wonder: What might he have told me?” he writes. (Read the full article here.)
Epstein’s death was initially reported by authorities as an “apparent suicide,” but the strange circumstances surrounding it and all the “powerful people” implicated in his case unsurprisingly sparked conspiracy theories. Despite having apparently attempted suicide a few weeks earlier, Epstein was taken off suicide watch; his cellmate was also transferred, leaving him alone and unmonitored. Along with the official autopsy, the financier’s representatives paid for an independent autopsy by celebrity pathologist Michael Baden.
Authorities announced Monday that they’ve concluded Epstein did indeed kill himself by making a makeshift noose with a bedsheet he tied over the top bunk and kneeling toward the floor.