Wait, was the Ghislaine Maxwell In-n-Out photo doctored?

It’s a law of nature: Every story involving Jeffrey Epstein, even glancingly, must contain fodder for conspiracy theories.

Even one as basic as his alleged procurer getting caught in the act of chowing down on the world’s worst fries in L.A.


Here’s the photo (well, one of the photos) in case you missed it last week:

Go read this Daily Mail story raising questions about whether the photo was tampered with and you’ll find a second photo, this one with more of the background included. The Mail thinks the scene might have been staged and/or the photos doctored to make it look they were taken more recently than they really were. Not every point raised is persuasive: For instance, they wonder why Maxwell has not one but two drinks on the table if she was allegedly dining alone, but the sad wretches who frequent In-n-Out claimed on social media this weekend that that’s not suspicious given that one cup is red and the other is green. The franchise uses different-colored cups for regular beverages versus milkshakes. It may be that Maxwell simply ordered a shake and a water to go with her meal.

Likewise: “Why, for example, does Ms Maxwell remove her reading glasses before posing with an open book?” asks the Mail, noting that one photo shows Maxwell bespectacled and the other doesn’t. Ah, probably for no reason better than vanity. Some guy recognized her while she was reading, asked if he could snap a photo, and she complied but removed her glasses first. Pretty simple! This point, however, is not so simple:


The socialite is seen in front of a poster for Good Boys, a film that opened in the US on Friday.

But when The Mail on Sunday visited the area on Friday, the bus stop was displaying an advert for a local hospital.

Advertising agency Outfront Media said the hospital ad had been there since July 28 – with Ms Maxwell said to have been photographed on August 12.

Spokeswoman Carly Zipp said: ‘We think the poster in the Maxwell picture was photoshopped in.

We checked… and we have no evidence or record of Good Boys ever being there.’

A third photo of Maxwell was found and posted at Reddit, and that one appears to have odd little photoshop-type artifacts as well. Some have even pointed out that Maxwell’s face looks surprisingly line-free for a 57-year-old, leading to speculation that her own image has been retouched. The photos seem to have greater depth of field than the average cell-phone camera allows too, the Mail notes. And Maxwell hasn’t eaten her meal, with the lids still on the drinks and no straw in either. Did she get her food, sit down, and go right back to reading her book before digging in? How often do people at fast-food chains order and then not eat immediately?

My new theory, then, based on exactly nothing: Epstein is alive and took the photo.

No, the idea, obviously, is that the photos were engineered/doctored by Maxwell to convince people that she’s in L.A. when she isn’t. (Remember, there were reports last week that she was hiding out in Massachusetts.) Go look at the wide shot of Maxwell posing at In-n-Out that was published at the New Yorker, though, and you can see lots of details in the background — starting with a billboard in the upper right. (The words on it are partially obscured but it looks like “cannabis?” to me.) Is that billboard really there right now near the In-n-Out in Orange Country? Seems like it’d be easy to verify. All sorts of other potential “tells” about the age of the photo are present as well, from the paint on buildings in the background to the age of the cars on the street to even the markings on the blue strip on the floor of the In-n-Out seating area on the right side of the pic. The theory being proposed by the Mail is that that’s really Maxwell in the photos but that they may have been taken years ago and are being passed off now as contemporaneous in order to throw the public off the scent of her actual location. (Hence the photoshopped movie poster.) But if the photos are years old, we’d expect other details in the background to be different now. Anyone live nearby and want to check it out?


I realize that might require you to eat something from In-n-Out but journalism sometimes requires sacrifice.

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David Strom 8:30 PM | February 22, 2024