Four of Ghislaine Maxwell’s siblings link arms as they arrive at NYC court together
Published: 18:03 GMT, 20 December 2021 | Updated: 20:08 GMT, 20 December 2021
Four of Ghislaine Maxwell ‘s siblings were pictured arriving at court arm in arm as her trial in New York neared its conclusion today.
Kevin, Isabel, Ian and Christine linked arms as they arrived at the courthouse Monday morning ahead of closing arguments in their sister’s trial.
Kevin and Isabel have been in court most days of the trial and often chat or make eye contact with their sister during breaks in the proceedings.
But it is understood this is the first time all four have been present together since the trial began on November 29.
Prosecutors labelled Ghislaine Maxwell a ‘sophisticated predator’ who ‘preyed on vulnerable kids’ as they presented their closing argument this morning.
‘She was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,’ Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe told the jury Monday. ‘She ran the same play book again and again and again.’
‘She was a grown woman who preyed on vulnerable kids,’ she added. ‘Maxwell was the key to the whole operation.’
Prosecutors reiterated the allegations made during the weeks-long trial that Maxwell acted as Jeffrey Epstein ‘s ‘right hand’ who caused ‘deep’ and ‘lasting harm’ to young girls.
Prosecutors have labeled Ghislaine Maxwell a ‘sophisticated predator’ in their closing arguments this morning
‘She was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,’ Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe told the jury Monday. ‘She ran the same play book again and again and again’
Four of Maxwell’s siblings – Kevin, Isabel, Ian and Christine – arrived to court to support their sister Monday
Four of Maxwell’s siblings – Kevin, Isabel, Ian and Christine – arrived to court to support their sister Monday.
Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome was also seen arriving with the hopes for a conviction
Isabel and Kevin Maxwell have shown up daily to support Ghislaine.
Epstein accuser Sarah Ransome was also seen arriving with the hopes for a conviction.
Maxwell confirmed that she would not be testifying in a dramatic moment on the final day of her defense Friday.
Maxwell stood up with her hands held together as her lawyer Bobbi Sternheim put her arm around her.
Judge Alison Nathan asked Maxwell if she would be testifying as she had the right to do so.
Speaking confidently in a cut glass English accent, Maxwell said: ‘Your honor, the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt so there is no need for me to testify.’
And after just two days and nine witnesses, Maxwell’s defense rested.
As Maxwell was led away back to prison at the end of the day, her sister Isabel, who was standing in the public gallery, made a prayer sign for her.
Maxwell hugged all of her lawyers one by one before walking out of the court.
The couple appear in one photo in what appears to be a European city. Ghislaine is seen kissing Jeffrey on the cheek
One photo shows Maxwell kissing the pedophile’s cheek with her arms wrapped around him. Many have testified that they believed Epstein and Ghislaine were boyfriend and girlfriend
Maxwell ‘s second day of defense got off to a rocky start Friday when it emerged that one witness refused to respond to a subpoena, another said they would take the fifth and a third was not being called.
The defense was able to call witness Dr. Eva Andersson, 60, an internist and former girlfriend of Epstein who is now married to hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin. Glenn, 64, was previously accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts when she was an underage teen – allegations he’s denied.
The former Miss Sweden wore a black blazer, black pants and a gray and black dress, her blonde hair being shoulder length as she denied taking part in orgies.
In her testimony earlier in the trial, Maxwell accuser under the pseudonym Jane claimed that an ‘Eva’ had taken part in orgies with her and other women at Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, during the 1990s when she was a teenager.
Maxwell’s lawyer Jeff Pagliuca said to Dubin: ‘I apologize for asking these questions. Have ever been in a group sexualized encounter with the person we are calling Jane?’
Pagliuca said: ‘Were you ever in a group sexualized massage with Jane?’
Dubin said that she dated Epstein ‘off and on’ from around 1983 to 1990 or 1991, the time he began dating Maxwell.
In 1994 she married Glenn Dubin but said that she stayed friendly with Epstein and socialized with him and flew on his private plane, including with her three children.
Pagliuca asked Andersson if she was ‘comfortable’ with Epstein’s relationship with her children, and she said she was.
Pagliuca asked if Epstein was ‘fond’ of her three children, one of whom was his goddaughter. Dubin said: ‘Yes he was’.
Asked if her children were fond of Epstein, Dubin said: ‘They were’.
Pagliuca asked if the children had an ‘uncle-like relationship’ with Epstein and gave him the nickname ‘F’, apparently short for Jeff, and Andersson said that was correct.
Dubin was shown a number of flight log entries from Epstein’s private planes including one where she is listed as flying with Jane.
Asked if she remembered ever meeting Jane, Dubin said: ‘I don’t recall ever meeting this person’.
Dubin dated Epstein for 11 years in the 80s. Dubin’s husband is hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, who has been accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts when she was a teen
The defense was able to call two witnesses Friday, including Eva Dubin, Epstein’s former longtime girlfriend and former miss Sweden
Pagliuca showed Dubin a photo that was found inside Epstein’s house which she said showed her youngest daughter, his goddaughter.
Dubin said she had ‘never seen this picture before’ in a moment that appeared to surprise the defense.
The defense was able to call witness Dr. Eva Andersson, 60, an internist and former girlfriend of Epstein who is now married to hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin
During her testimony, Pagliuca asked Dubin: ‘Did you observe any inappropriate conduct between Mr. Epstein and any teenage females?’
During cross examination prosecutor Alison Moe asked Dubin if she knew if, between 1994 and 2000 Epstein and Maxwell were in an ‘open relationship.’
She replied: ‘I couldn’t really say whether they did or did not’.
Dubin confirmed that she was having issues with her memory due to a medical condition which she did not specify, although she has publicly described a battle with breast cancer.
She said: ‘It’s very hard for me to remember anything far back. Sometimes I can’t even remember things from last month.
‘My family notices and I notice it. It’s been an issue’.
As Dubin walked into the court, Maxwell turned her head around and looked to the door and followed her with her eyes as she walked in and up to the witness box.
During Dubin’s evidence Maxwell stared intently at her, sitting up in her chair.
During a 2016 deposition which was revealed publicly for the first time in 2019, Rinaldo Rizzo, a butler for the Dubins, tearfully described seeing a 15-year-old girl in his boss’s kitchen in 2005.
Rizzo said he saw a 15-year-old Swedish girl confined to Epstein’s private island and kept there as a sex slave.
Rizzo testified in his deposition that the girl was brought to the home by Maxwell and Epstein, who were visiting the Dubins.
A quick glance at the fortunes of the Maxwell siblings and it is difficult not to think the nine children of tyrannical media mogul Robert Maxwell were cursed from the start.
Most famous among them is his youngest – and favourite – Ghislaine, the disgraced socialite who is waiting to stand trial on a string of charges relating to the trafficking minors for her former lover Jeffrey Epstein .
Maxwell, who denies all charges, faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison if found guilty of abuse, procurement of young girls for Epstein and sex trafficking crimes dating back decades.
Her brother Ian, 65, the seventh of the nine Maxwell children, has been a vocal supporter of his sister and spoke out again this week in her defence, saying he believes the ‘enormous amount of negative media coverage’ of the case will ‘poison’ the jury against her.
Ian has had his fair share of experience in court. In the 1990s, he and younger brother Kevin stood trial for their part in their father’s £460 million Mirror Group pension fraud.
MailOnline looks at the fate of Ghislaine’s eight siblings, from the brilliant scientist brother who fled to Argentina to escape his father, the children Maxwell bullied, the twins who became dotcom millionaires, and the tragic sister who died in childhood.
Robert Maxwell pictured with his wife Betty and seven of their eight children at home in Headington Hill Hall, Oxford. When this photo was taken Ian was 11 years old and attending preparatory school, while Isabel, then 17 was at grammar school with their sister Christine , and youngest son Kevin, 8, was at preparatory school. Second oldest son Philip, , had entered his second undergraduate year at Balliol College, Oxford, while Anne was also studying at the university, but at St Hugh’s College. Michael, the eldest, was terminally ill after a car crash
Ghislaine Maxwell in June 2019 with her six living siblings. Ian Maxwell, her older brother, top right, shared the photo in March 2021. A month after it was taken, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and Ghislaine went into hiding with her husband, Scott Borgerson. The siblings, L-R, are: Anne, Kevin, twins Isabel and Christine, Philip, and Ian
Michael, the tragic first-born child who died in his 20s
Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Meynard in 1945 and the couple had nine children over the next 15 years.
In a 1995 interview, Elisabeth talked of how they were recreating his childhood family who were killed in the Holocaust.
Their eldest child, Michael, was born shortly after the couple wed. However his life was to be cut short.
Michael was severely injured aged 15 when his driver fell asleep at the wheel on December 27, 1961, just 48 hours after the birth of Ghislaine.
Michael fell into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died eight years later.
Philip, 73, the brilliant scientist who fled to Argentina
‘Poor Philip’ as his friends knew him, was a brilliant scientist and mathematician who won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, aged 16. He eventually fled to Argentina. It is not known where he lives, but he joined his siblings for their 2019 reunion
‘Poor Philip’, as his friends always knew him, was a brilliant scientist and mathematician who won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, aged just 16.
But he so loathed his domineering father that, as soon as he could, Philip fled to Argentina to get ‘as far away from as possible’.
The pair fell out irretrievably when he married Nilda, an Argentinian woman, in 1977, against Robert’s wishes.
The marriage didn’t last — Nilda moved out taking their daughter Marcella with her and a second marriage also failed.
Philip was last heard of living in a £65-a-week flat in North London trying to be a writer. The subject? His bullying father.
He joined the siblings for a reunion in London in 2019
Anne, ex-actress called ‘ugly’ by her father
Anne Maxwell, the eldest daughter, dreamed of becoming an actress before retraining as a teacher. She was bullied by her tyrant father over her looks. Pictured, in 1968 and 2019
When her fledgling acting career floundered, her father’s reaction was: ‘What have you and Pope John Paul II got in common? You’re both ugly and you’re both failed actors.’
Having studied Italian and French at Oxford, Anne reportedly worked on a television series before giving up her dreams of stardom.
She then trained as a Montessori teacher, married an osteopath and is now believed to be a hypnotherapist in Surrey, practising under another name. 2020 New Air Jordan 1 Hi Court Purple Shoes For Girls
She has kept out of the limelight since her father’s death at the age of 68.
Isabel, 71, a ‘fireball’ who lost her internet fortune
Described in The Jerusalem Post as ‘a fireball’ who is ‘always in your face’, Isabel was always the Maxwell to watch and made a fortune in the dotcom boom
Once described in The Jerusalem Post as ‘a fireball’ who is ‘always in your face’, Isabel was always the Maxwell to watch.
She never wanted to join the family firm, so after graduating from Oxford with a degree in modern languages, followed by a masters from Edinburgh, she became a TV reporter.
In 1981, she moved to California to work in TV before making a film set in 1968 starring rock singer Neil Young. ‘It wasn’t ET,’ she said, ‘. . . more a labour of love.’
But technology was her future. She and twin Christine co-founded one of the earliest internet search engines, known as Magellan, in 1992.
At one point worth £50million, Isabel, above in 2019, was declared bankrupt in 2015
In 1996, they sold it for shares in a rival company Excite — which rocketed in value, giving the sisters a joint £100 million fortune and landing them a place on the Sunday Times Rich list in 1999.
However her fortune waned and she was declared bankrupt in 2015.
She was married twice. Her first husband was U.S. film-maker Dale Djerassi, with whom she has a son, and then she wed Magellan co-founder David Hayden.
Her third ‘husband’, illusionist Al Seckel, was once a significant player in the Californian literary, academic and celebrity scene. He was famous for holding parties for the great and good. Jeffrey Epstein was a friend.
In 2009, the two men organised a science conference called Mindshift on Epstein’s private island Little Saint James.
Isabel and Seckel ‘married’ in Malibu in 2007 but their union was never legal as he had forgotten to file the papers to annul the second of three previous marriages
Similarly, Seckel had forgotten to repay countless debts over the years that resulted in endless legal proceedings.
In 2015, Seckel was found dead below a cliff near their home in the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in France’s Lot Valley. Isabel still lives in the south of France.
Unlike her twin sister Isabel, Christine, pictured left and right, entered the family business and spent years working for her father – and even published a bestselling book for his Pergamon
Unlike her twin sister Isabel, Christine entered the family business and spent years working for her father – and even published a bestselling book for his Pergamon.
After attending senior school at Milham Ford School in Oxford, she entered Pitzer College, Claremont, California, graduating in 1972 with a BA with a major in Latin American Studies and Sociology.
In September 1973, Maxwell enrolled at Oxford Brookes University’s Lady Spencer Churchill College of Education and obtained a post graduate teaching certificate the following year.
Christine continues to work at The University of Texas. Pictured, at the 2019 reunion
She later earned a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Christine was an editor for Pergamon Press Publishers, co-founded by her father, in the early 1970s and remained in his employ in the 1980s. She also spent time as a teacher in Oxford.
In a rare interview in 1998, she spoke of the years spent in her father’s publishing business: ‘Both of my parents had a strong work ethic, which they instilled in me and my brothers and sisters when we were very young.
‘They also communicated a very clear understanding that advantages always come with responsibilities — that there was no such thing as a free ride.’
In 1977 she published The Dictionary Of Perfect Spelling with her father’s Pergamon Press. The title became an international bestseller and has been reprinted several times.
Like her twin, the 1980s and 1990s were dominated by their success in the dotcom boom. In 1982 Christine acquired Information on Demand, one of the earliest information brokers, which was later renamed Research on Demand.
In 1992, Christine created and co-authored one of the first hard-copy reference guides to the Internet: New Riders Official Internet Yellow Pages and The McKinley Internet Yellow Pages.
Continuing her streak, she co-founded software company Chiliad.
Christine is married to a Roger Malina, an astrophysicist, and the couple share three children.
According to her Linked In profile, Christine holds the position of Program Manager of Learning Technologies at The University of Texas and is a partner at big data firm Techtonic Insight Inc.
Robert and Elisabeth’s sixth child, Karine, died of leukemia in 1957, aged three.
Her death shaped how the devastated parents would eventually view the birth of their daughter next daughter, Ghislaine, four years later.
Karine’s death upset the family’s ‘balance’ of ‘four boys and four girls’, Ian Maxwell explained in an interview.
‘So when my parents had another little girl it was really magic, it allowed the four boys and four girls to be recreated,’ Ian said. To add to the sense of miracle, she was born on Christmas Day.
Ian, 65, the ‘fall guy’ who defends his sister
Robert Maxwell pictured with his son Ian , who was taunted mercilessly by his siblings, and youngest son Kevin , who became Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt when a £407million bankruptcy order was made against him
Ian’s first wife was an American former college basketball star and model called Laura Marie Plumb, pictured on the first day of the pension fund trial
Taunted mercilessly at home — his father would ridicule him in front of visiting friends – Ian still decided to join the family business.
However his poor treatment continued and he was compared unfavourably to his younger brother, Kevin.
In the aftermath of their father’s death, Ian, then 35, and Kevin, 32, assumed control of the company and stood trial for their part in their father’s £460 million pension fraud.
They were acquitted, but the Maxwell name was mud for years and business opportunities were limited to overseas ventures.
Ian has given a number of interviews on his sister’s trial and case in recent months, bemoaning the treatment she has received. Pictured, on Good Morning America in March
Ian’s first wife was an American former college basketball star and model called Laura Marie Plumb.
They met when she moved to London to help set up a TV cable company. The couple married in 1991 — the year of Robert Maxwell’s death — and the ensuing media attention put Laura under great strain. On the day that Ian and Kevin were arrested, she was photographed sobbing. The couple divorced in 1996.
Next, he married Tara Dudley Smith, the daughter of a Jockey Club steward and ex-Army officer. But that relationship also ended. He found happiness with Cecilia French, Director of Public Protection at the Home Office.
Recently, after pursuing business opportunities in property, energy and telecoms, mostly outside the UK, Ian and Kevin said they’d felt the urge to do something for the greater good.
So three years ago, in the middle of the Greek financial crisis, they launched an organisation similar to the Prince’s Trust in Greece which has raised millions of euros and helped to launch several hundred businesses.
Maxwell announced in September 2018 that he and his brother Kevin had founded a UK think tank, Combating Jihadist Terrorism , with the aim of better understanding terrorism and its causes.
He has given a number of interviews on his sister’s trial and case in recent months, bemoaning the treatment she has received.
In March 2021 he told The Times Epstein had ruined his youngest sibling’s life — and she is paying for the US authorities’ failure to prosecute him.
Kevin, 62, Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt
The cleverest son and driving force of the family, Kevin was crestfallen by his father’s death, saying that he ‘missed his presence and ability to dominate’
The only Maxwell sibling ever to express remorse in public for the fallout from Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Kevin made reference to the ‘moral burden I will bear for the rest of my life’. Pictured, Kevin with his brother Ian on the launch of their think tank in 2018
The cleverest son and driving force of the family, Kevin was crestfallen by his father’s death, saying that he ‘missed his presence and ability to dominate’. He admitted to being totally in awe of him.
The only Maxwell sibling ever to express remorse in public for the fallout from Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Kevin made reference to the ‘moral burden I will bear for the rest of my life’.
His first wife, Pandora Warnford-Davis called her father-in-law Robert the ‘fat fraudster’.
Kevin, pictured in 2019, dreamed of making a fortune in the late 1990s but it wasn’t to be
When, in June 1992, Kevin was arrested and charged with fraud after hundreds of millions disappeared from the Maxwell empire’s employee pension funds, she appeared at the window of their home at dawn and shouted: ‘P*** off, or I’ll call the police!’ only to realise the early morning callers were the police.
In 2007, they divorced after 23 years and seven children together. Pandora was last heard of living in Oxford, renting out a room through Airbnb.
Soon after his arrest, Kevin became Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt when a £407 million bankruptcy order was made against him.
The bankruptcy was discharged in 1995, following the mandatory three years.
And, after an Old Bailey trial that cost taxpayers £12 million in legal aid, he was acquitted of fraud a year later — even though a subsequent Whitehall report concluded Kevin bore a ‘heavy responsibility’ for what happened.
In 1998, he went on to co-found media company Telemonde, a US-based commercial vehicle for what he hoped would be ‘the Maxwell comeback story’. It was not to be.
When Telemonde floated in 1999, Kevin looked on course to becoming a multi-millionaire; on paper he owned a seven per cent stake, worth £16 million.
But by 2001, the company had debts of more than £100 million and failed. Kevin then moved into high end commercial property.
His venture came tumbling down in 2011 when he was disqualified from being a director for eight years.
The brothers also co-founded their think tank in 2018.
Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
Ghislaine Maxwell also faces two charges of perjury but those counts are due to be tried after her sex crimes trial.
The charges relate to testimony she gave in 2016 in a defamation case filed against her by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Prosecutors say Maxwell groomed three girls between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein.
They are not named in the indictment, but she allegedly targeted them in London, Florida, New York and New Mexico.
Maxwell, it is alleged, would befriend the girls by asking them about their life and their schooling. She would put them at ease by taking them to the movies and taking them shopping, winning their trust to later deliver them to Epstein, it’s alleged.
To ‘normalize’ the abuse that would come later, prosecutors say she undressed in front of the girls herself and asked them sexual questions.
She then not only facilitated Epstein abusing them, prosecutors say, but took part in some of it herself.
The alleged sex abuse includes ‘sexualized group massages’.
The indictment also says Maxwell made the girl feel ‘indebted’ to Epstein by encouraging them to take money from him and let him pay for their education and travel.
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The night Ghislaine tried to give me a very public sex lesson
Published: 22:01 GMT, 11 September 2019 | Updated: 2020 Air Jordan 1 Mid GS “Atomic Pulse” New Sale CV5174-800 03:14 GMT, 12 September 2019
She looked at me as if I was a moron. Certainly, she didn’t think I was playing with a full deck. Amid the tables laden with sweating champagne buckets in one of Manhattan’s swankiest restaurants, her grip tightened on my wrist.
‘I am trying to teach you how to please your boyfriend. Don’t you want to know how?’
I was unnerved. ‘I don’t have a boyfriend,’ I said apologetically. She then mentioned something about corkscrews and the entourage of younger women around her laughed and giggled.
The woman seemed vaguely familiar. Her hair was black and sleek, her face flushed and, I remember thinking, rather tortured. Suddenly, I recognised her.
Petronella Wyatt recalls her encounters with Ghislaine Maxwell and her father, Robert
It had been a long time since I had seen Ghislaine Maxwell — now the focus of allegations that she acted as a ‘madame’ for the late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein. But as she took my hand, I sensed her personality was of the kind that brooked no refusal.
In that, she was like her father, Robert, the late, disgraced newspaper tycoon.
I had met Mr Maxwell before I ever met Ghislaine. It was in the Eighties when my own father, the politician and writer Woodrow Wyatt, invited him to dinner.
Maxwell was then the owner of Mirror Group Newspapers and rarely out of the headlines. My mother, who is Hungarian, had wanted to meet him because he had been born in a part of Czechoslovakia that had once belonged to Hungary.
I think his wife, Betty, came with him but I have no recollection of her. I’d heard gossip that her husband treated her badly, had affairs, even knocked her about a bit.
I do remember him, though. A very large man, he had cobalt eyes, florid skin and features that might have been handsome had they not looked as if God had, at the last minute, given up. He wore velvet shoes and a dinner jacket with a loud bow tie.
Someone had told me he’d once killed a man, yet that evening he attempted the air of a born boulevardier. At once, he bent over to kiss my hand. It was a cold night but he was sweating hard.
He placed his lips on my knuckles and sucked as if he was drawing venom from a snakebite, then turned to my mother and said: ‘What a beautiful daughter you have.’ I was 16 at the time. ‘I have a beautiful daughter, too,’ he added. ‘She is just like me.’
Petronella admits she was mesmerised and intimidated the first time she met Oxford graduate Ghislaine, at an Italian restaurant
For anyone who moved in what passed for London ‘society’, it was impossible not to be aware of Ghislaine Maxwell. She appeared regularly in newspaper gossip columns, at fashionable eateries such as San Lorenzo in Knightsbridge, and at Tramp and Annabel’s nightclubs.
She was invited to all the smartest parties. She is seven years older than me and when we were first introduced I was at once mesmerised and intimidated. She was an Oxford graduate who had founded the Kit Kat Club, an exclusive salon for the more intellectual sort of It Girl .
Our first meeting was in an Italian restaurant and she was, of course, sitting at the best table. I was in an alcove. Someone on her table knew me and beckoned me over. We were introduced.
Ghislaine was tall and thin, with broad shoulders and layered hair so black and glossy it was like ravens’ wings. Her complexion was pale and her mouth well-shaped but thin. She wasn’t beautiful, but she had the gift of making you believe she was.
She also had an intense sexuality, an almost androgynous allure.
‘This is Petronella Wyatt,’ she was told. She laughed brightly and said in flattering tones: ‘I’ve heard about you.’
She had the ability to both please and hypnotise.
I ran into her quite often after that. She spoke frequently of her father, reverentially, as though he had the combined qualities of Socrates, El Cid, Cary Grant and all Twelve Apostles. This was at a time when his star was starting to wane in the City and elsewhere.
Petronella believes the death of Ghislaine’s father could have sent her towards late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein
I wondered then whether her almost pathological desire to please men — something I often observed at parties — stemmed from her hero-worship of him.
Some years later I met Robert Maxwell again, at a wedding. During the dancing afterwards, I dropped my handbag. As I bent to retrieve it, he almost flung my arm aside so he could perform this act of chivalry himself.
With a ghastly playfulness, he held the handbag above his head and waggled a podgy finger.
His hooded eyes were bloodshot as he pushed me around the dance floor. His touch was clammy and his breath stank. I didn’t flatter myself that he was interested in me sexually.
He seemed preoccupied, despite the swagger. A few months later I understood why.
I think it was her father’s death that changed Ghislaine Maxwell’s life and perhaps sent her on her headlong rush towards a man such as Jeffrey Epstein. I read about it in November 1991. His body had been found in the Canary Islands, floating near the yacht he had named after his favourite child, the Lady Ghislaine.
By that time, everyone knew he had stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from the Mirror Group pension fund. Most of us assumed his death was an accident — his heart was bad — or that he had committed suicide.
Petronella recalls there being many Maxwell stories in the papers, following his death in the Canary Islands
A friend who knew Ghislaine called me one morning. ‘She is quite mad with grief,’ she said. ‘She thinks he was murdered. Her friends are very worried about her state of mind.’
In the extremities of grief, we invent so many palliatives to the truth. I don’t believe Ghislaine could accept that the person she worshipped was a common thief who had died a sad but unglamorous death, his reputation gone along with most of his money.
Maxwell’s sons Ian and Kevin, then aged 35 and 32 respectively, were later prosecuted as accessories to fraud . Nearly every day there was a Maxwell story in the papers, including dawn raids on their homes.
One Sunday, a girlfriend of mine invited me to a lunch party at her London flat. I was nursing a Bloody Mary when the Maxwell boys walked in.
I have to say I liked them, especially Ian. He was good looking in an unobtrusive way, with a wry, twisted smile. He seemed a gentleman. I thought him a weak vessel, though, whom his father had smashed.
Kevin was angrier. He looked more like Ghislaine and had a scrappy, combative manner.
It was clear to me that the sons had suffered, but it must have been hell for Ghislaine, the youngest of Maxwell’s seven surviving children and the most devoted to him. He was no longer there to protect her from the barbs of London life.
Petronella recounts seeing Ghislaine five years after the death of her father during a visit to New York
She disappeared from the parties, restaurants, private dinners, nightclubs and openings in London, and I didn’t give her much thought until five years later, on a visit to New York, when I heard she had moved there and was cutting quite a swathe.
‘No one in New York gives a damn about raiding pensions,’ one Upper East Side matron told me.
Ghislaine’s close friends had stuck by her and she had been introduced to an impressive array of Americans including the Clintons, members of the Kennedy family and Donald Trump.
Then she had become enamoured of a financier called Jeffrey Epstein, who, it was said, reminded her of her father. People said he had ‘saved’ her and ‘made her feel safe’.
He also funded her lavish lifestyle of private jets, expensive real estate and designer clothes. I heard, too, that she hadn’t lost her Geisha-like compulsion to flatter men.
Epstein had, even in those days, an unpleasant reputation. I met him just once in the bar of a New York hotel, where he was having a meeting with an acquaintance of mine. I said hello and moved away, not wishing to interrupt.
He looked annoyed; it was said he was often angry and had a basic contempt for women.
I think now how ironic it was that the only good thing Robert Maxwell ever did for his daughter was scare off unsuitable boyfriends, yet he wasn’t there to protect her from the man who became her nemesis.
Petronella says Ghislaine tried to show her how to perform oral sex, while at a party in Manhattan
Then, some years later, there was that bizarre encounter with Ghislaine at the Manhattan party. She was on her own and no longer romantically involved with Epstein, who was about to be charged as a sex offender.
Her hair was cut into a boyish crop, her teeth had been whitened and I suspected she’d had something done to her lips. Her once pale skin was the teak permatan of the aimless rich.
She had lost her charm and seemed, like her father all those years ago, to be playing a role. Above all, she appeared to be playing at being happy.
After that moment of mutual recognition, she laughed a little too loudly. I asked her how she was and she didn’t answer.
Her manner was brittle, almost uncontrolled. But it was clear that with many of the younger female guests, she held her old sway, and they gathered around her, eager to hear what Ghislaine was saying.
‘Give me your arm,’ she persisted, looking straight at me. ‘I will show you how to give a man the world’s greatest oral sex.’
Being something of a prig, I placed both hands in the pockets of my jacket and shook my head.
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Fortunately, someone more eager than I rolled up the sleeve of her dress and two more young, giggling women followed her example.
As I moved away, Ghislaine Maxwell finally got to perform her party trick — a lesson in the art of pleasing men. I never saw her again.
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