That insulation might help to explain another gutting element of the Epstein allegations: how blatantly—how teasingly—he flaunted his behavior. Epstein’s private jet was widely known as the “Lolita Express.” (Bill Clinton traveled on the plane; so did, reportedly, Prince Andrew, and Kevin Spacey, and Donald Trump.) When the writer Vicky Ward profiled Epstein for a 2003 article in Vanity Fair, she visited him in his Manhattan townhouse to conduct an interview. “The only book he’d left out for me to see,” Ward would later write, “was a paperback by the Marquis de Sade.” In the guest bathrooms of his Palm Beach mansion, Epstein reportedly kept soaps molded to resemble genitalia. In that house—and, as the FBI agents discovered during their raid of his home on Saturday, in his Manhattan residence—he also kept pictures of naked girls.

Epstein flaunted his alleged crimes. He treated them as jokes, and as dares. In 2005, after the Palm Beach police raided his mansion and discovered not only photographs of nude girls but also massage tables, Epstein, through his attorney, sent detectives an urgent message: “Mr. Epstein is very passionate about massages.”