Maxwell seemed to adore Epstein, who was a grinning grifter with the gift of gab, and always had a story to tell, even about his home. “He was obsessed with jewelry boxes and very detailed, ornate designs—he told me the Pope actually gave him artisans who teamed up with this one jewelry-box maker from Paris to make his dining room look like a giant version of the inside of a Parisian jewelry box,” says an ex-girlfriend. Epstein also said that his friend Lynn Forester, now married to billionaire Evelyn de Rothschild, needed his financial help during her 1990s divorce from politician Andrew Stein, and that he had graciously floated her. (“100% false,” says a spokesperson for Forester.) He claimed that the producers of The Apprentice had first approached him to make a show about a reclusive billionaire living an extravagant life, but he said no, and then introduced them to Trump. (A spokesperson for Mark Burnett denies this).

On the weekends in the 1990s, Maxwell would have her Rollerblades FedExed to Epstein’s island in the Caribbean, and said she got her helicopter’s license so she could transport anyone she liked without pilots knowing who they were. Maxwell also said the island had been completely wired for video; the friend thought that she and Epstein were videotaping everyone on the island as an insurance policy, as blackmail. A source close to Maxwell says she spoke glibly and confidently about getting girls to sexually service Epstein, saying this was simply what he wanted, and describing the way she’d drive around to spas and trailer parks in Florida to recruit them. She would claim she had a phone job for them, “and you’ll make lots of money, meet everyone, and I’ll change your life.” The source continues, “Ghislaine was in love with Jeffrey the way she was in love with her father. She always thought if she just did one more thing for him, to please him, he would marry her.”