I have been investigating Epstein for nearly two decades. According to my recent reporting Epstein claimed to some of his select guests that he could get them to whoever they needed — quietly. For example he knew Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — and if you doubted this, the Crown Prince’s photograph was hanging on the wall. He said he could get you to Vladimir Putin and to any number of prominent Israelis. He had friends in high places in developing Africa, France, Britain, the Middle East, Japan, and China.
And yet all this convening was done either on offshore islands, or in private rooms, on private trips, or in private planes — in short he was like a private concierge at the world’s most elite male club. Whether or not he really could deliver on everything he promised remains debatable. But astonishingly, given the sophistication of his audience, his followers seem to have believed him…
This is important because one of the vulnerabilities of the 0.001 per cent that Epstein keenly understood — and manipulated — was the power of social humiliation. He told me in 2002 that he’d discovered in the 1980s, when he was working as a self-described bounty hunter, that “when rich people lose money, they don’t want to go to the authorities, they just want it back.”
What he didn’t tell me was how enormously beneficial this insight was to him personally. Over the years, a number of extremely wealthy people or leaders of institutions have told me they or their families had been cheated by Epstein but they remain far too embarrassed to go on the record about it.