While the “billionaire” took his testimony to the grave, non-disclosure agreements are now void and his estate is already fielding lawsuits. Discovery will be revelatory.
Over the last few months the veil of secrecy around how Jeffrey Epstein got his money and how he spent his time has started to unravel. Now that he’s dead, the rules change.
Getting his personal testimony on record is impossible now. He can’t make a deal with prosecutors to help them catch anyone who collaborated in his crimes.
However, his estate is also more vulnerable to certain types of pressure that the law protects a living person from having to face.
Dead men don’t talk. But everyone else in Epstein’s world is now free to share what they know with the authorities.
Details We Know
Confidentiality is already fraying around the Epstein organization as victims step up and sue for damages. We know a lot more about how he structured his fortune even if the key details are still missing.
For example, he managed money for people like Victoria’s Secret founder Les Wexner, who apparently fired him when the initial prostitution conviction hit a decade ago.
Great. But while Wexner has about $6 billion to his name, simply running that portfolio on its own would take decades to generate the kind of wealth Epstein apparently amassed.
At the time, he apparently jetted around the world as a kind of one-man majordomo or billionaire life manager, weighing in on all the details that go into an ultra-high-net-worth life.
Supposedly that was worth a flat retainer starting at $25 million a year.
People will speculate on what kind of attention the package included or who would sign up for that level of service. All I know is that the math doesn’t really add up unless you’ve got at least $2 billion to work with.
And that’s an extremely rarefied potential client population. His overhead was enormous. You’d need to capture at least a handful of billionaires and hold them for years to keep the cash flowing.
Wexner is also telling a story now about how Epstein cheated him out of over $46 billion in the years leading up to the 2008 crash, using his power of attorney and absolute discretion to funnel funds into his own accounts.
That was the Madoff era and a lot of ultra-high-net-worth investors failed to keep an eye on the statements until it was too late. But even so, it’s weird that Wexner kept the story to himself for over a decade.
Wexner also gave Epstein the biggest townhouse in Manhattan for free in 2011, years after they went separate ways.
Either way, Epstein hasn’t had a conventional job in the last decade. Whatever cash he’s used to support his lifestyle has been a draw on his established bankroll or some form of illicit income.
Opening his business records will reveal that. The forensic accountants have got to be digging through it now. Without a live target to protest, their work will go a lot faster.
After all, dead people have no privacy rights. Their estate maintains the assets but unless for some reason Epstein copyrighted the contents of his phone and cash flow statements, the records themselves are now an open book.
Tax returns and medical records remain sealed. Everything else opens up.
That includes any non-disclosure agreements he signed with employees and others. Personal contracts are no longer binding. They can talk if they see fit or are prompted by the authorities.
After all, something in the documents may implicate them in a crime. As potential witnesses, they need to be deposed. Interference is no longer an issue.
Let The Lawsuits Begin
Sealed indictments are also unsealed now because the dead get no due process. He’s beyond justice but the main line of inquiry now moves to his associates.
Epstein’s assets, on the other hand, are still subject to legal claims. Victims who argue that his mansions or private islands gave him a place to abuse them are suing the estate.
They were previously holding back to wait for the criminal case to proceed. Now that there’s no criminal case, they want damages.
The townhouse alone is worth $77 million, which is again evidence that Wexner has a right to feel cheated. Supposedly there’s close to $500 million more on the table.
Epstein was always sophisticated. He knew how trusts work. However, he apparently believed a simple Virgin Islands domicile would protect him from any and all legal threats.
The mansion is owned in an offshore company’s name. Other entities own his jet and keep the cash circulating through a system of transfers and cross-contributions.
Legitimate charities are theoretically out of a lawsuit’s reach but ownership of the business entities is another story. If Epstein didn’t retain the equity, someone else has it now.
And as those entities transfer ownership to his heirs – whoever they are – we’ll see what passes through probate. As long as he was alive, that would never have happened.
In our view this has all the makings of a Madoff-level event. Anyone he wronged can come forward now and sue for restitution. They may win or lose but the process will finally reveal what he had to hide and how he hid it.
Dead men tell no tales. His estate may end up an open book.