Jeffrey Epstein, shifty and secretive to the end

It turns out that just two days before his death in jail, Jeffery Epstein wrote a will leaving his entire estate of nearly half a billion dollars to a trust. I don’t know anything about trusts except that what I can gather is that they are the product of yet another one of those loopholes inserted into the tax code that benefit the wealthy who can afford to hire tax accountants and lawyers, and that it enables the wealthy to hide their assets and reduce their taxes.

Epstein’s longtime lawyers, Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, were named as primary executors of the estate and are slated to receive $250,000 of the $577 million fortune for their efforts.

But the document shows the disgraced money-manager also selected an alternate executor in the event that Indyke and Kahn can’t carry out their duties: Boris Nikolic, an immunologist and biotech entrepreneur.

Nikolic was reportedly “shocked” to learn that he was listed in the will—which dictates that all of Epstein’s personal property should go to the trustees of a mysterious entity called The 1953 Trust.

“I was not consulted in these matters and I have no intent to fulfill these duties, whatsoever,” he said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.

“He created some sort of trust very shortly before he died to receive all his property, and the reason people do that is to keep private from the public who is the beneficiary,” Crawford told The Daily Beast, adding, “The will is public, but the trust itself is not.”

Epstein’s selection of the immunologist Nikolic as an executor is symbolic of the symbiotic relationship of Epstein with well-known scientists. He seemed to like to hang out with them, presumably so that some of their prestige and credibility would reflect on him. We saw how that resulted in him getting some of his ridiculous speculations into a book alongside others described ‘leading thinkers’.

But what did the scientists get in return, if they were not part of the sex and pedophilia activities? Were they just flattered to be invited into the high life of private jets, private islands, lavish parties, and carousing with celebrities? Some of the celebrities now claim that they thought he was just a poseur but others seemed to think he was profound.

One aspect of Epstein’s life of luxury seems incongruously out of place though. He surrounded himself with prominent scientists, Harvard professors, multiple Nobel Prize winners, authors, almost exclusively men – Epstein kept his social gatherings stocked with some of the world’s most eminent figures in this world.

He would host dinners at his Upper East side Manhattan apartment and invite a mix of leading scientists and people from the world of fashion and modeling. One scientist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Slate that there was virtually no interaction between these two sets of guests . “Sometimes he’d turn to his left and ask some science-y questions. Then he’d turn to his right and ask the model to show him her portfolio.” Slate claimed that a young “female staffer” emerged in the middle of one of these dinners to give Epstein a neck massage while he talked.

By most accounts, he would engage with his guests at his science-related parties but never for very long or very deeply, often derailing conversations by abruptly changing topics or turning other people’s comments into jokes.

Still, some of the scientists seemed smitten. In a 2002 profile of Epstein for New York Magazine, Martin Nowack, now a professor of biology and mathematics and head of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, said that he once broke out a blackboard during dinner with Epstein and, for two hours, gave a mathematical description of how language works. “Jeffrey has the mind of a physicist. It’s like talking to a colleague in your field. Sometimes he applies what we talk about to his investments. Sometimes it’s for his own curiosity. He has changed my life. Because of his support, I feel I can do anything I want,” Nowack said.

The relationships that Epstein developed with prominent scientists are an intriguing phenomenon in their own right.

The puzzle at the heart of Epstein’s fandom is how it lasted for so long and why he managed to draw so many scientists into this circle. As Katha Pollit, writing in the Nation last week said: “What I can’t get over is how Epstein successfully weaseled his way into science at the highest level by cultivating major figures in the field socially and spreading his wealth around. Science! The very temple of the pursuit of truth. Call me insufficiently jaded, but am I wrong to expect more of those we rely on to combat all of the nonsense swirling around us?”

Pollitt is right to expect more of us but wrong to be shocked that so many failed to live up to the standards we claim to live by. What this sordid episode shows is that scientists are as susceptible as any other person to flattery and attention and lavish hospitality from the wealthy.

The article goes on to say that Epstein was enamored of the idea of eugenics.

Epstein was allegedly fascinated with and inspired by the Repository for Germinal Choice, which was founded in Escondido, California, in 1980 by Robert K Graham, an avowed eugenicist and tycoon who got rich developing shatterproof eyeglass lenses. Graham’s goal was the “strengthening of the human gene pool” and he would accomplish this with the Repository, a sperm bank where all the donors were Nobel laureates. At least that’s how it was supposed to work: according to a 2001 story in Slate, Graham only ever convinced three or five (the stories vary) to actually contribute, and the Repository shuttered in 1999.

This may be the foundation of Epstein’s plan to impregnate as many as 20 young women at a time at his New Mexico ranch, no doubt because he thought of himself as some kind of superman and that the world would be better off with as many copies of his DNA in circulation as possible.

What a creep.


  1. says

    There is a thing called “tortious transfer” -- when you move money to keep it out of the plaintiff’s hands in a judgement (like the way OJ Simpson let his friends come over and help themselves to his stuff, which later came back and bit him hard on the ass) -- It’s a tort but it’s so hard to fight (that is the idea) that it’s basically tying things up forever. I’m sure Epstein’s lawyers have it set up so the foundation will spend all its money vigorously defending itself against all judgements. Basically it’s Epstein’s farewell “fuck you”

    There are accounts that he spent 12hr a day in the nicest conference room in the prison, talking to his lawyers and eating the contents of the soda and candy machines. He was probably setting up the foundation so if he survived he’d file bankruptcy and still be able to get millions from the foundation.

    I hope someone helped him with that bedsheet rope, but only because a guillotine would be hard to sneak past the guards -- though it sounds like it would not be out of place there.

  2. says

    Marcus --

    Jerry Sandusky something similar, handing over all his money to his wife to keep the victims from suing. She and his lawyer inferred that the victims are golddiggers. Meanwhile, they fought like hell in court to keep his state pension, which a court ruled he can because he “was not a PSU employee” when he raped children.

    I wonder how much Dottie Sandusky spends per month keeping him happy and comfortable in prison.

  3. says

    Graham’s goal was the “strengthening of the human gene pool”

    A single man having lots of biological descendants and the resulting inbreeding sure strengthens the human gene pool. Harmful recessive genes causing various illnesses sure are the way to go.

    This may be the foundation of Epstein’s plan to impregnate as many as 20 young women at a time at his New Mexico ranch

    If some man wanted multiple biological children, he could just volunteer at a sperm bank. It’s perfectly ethical, and the donor even gets perks like free medical checks and a bit of cash. But, no, of course an asshole like Epstein had to think of something creepy and disgusting instead.

    What a creep.


  4. Some Old Programmer says

    In the somewhat panicky days after November 2016, my husband and I hired a lawyer that specializes in LGBT estate issues to draw up trusts. The utility of trusts (for us, at least) is to hold title of major assets (e.g. our house) so that the trustees still have control on death. Assets passed through a will have to go through probate, and any necessary action may need court approval, incurring delays and the cost of lawyers to draft and submit the paperwork. Our trusts are structured to take maximum advantage of inheritance tax law (e.g. value under a certain threshold isn’t taxed, and spouses inherit tax free), but (AFAIK, not a lawyer) they doesn’t otherwise avoid estate taxes. Of course we’re not setting up charitable foundations, which some have used to game the tax system (c.f. the Trump family).

  5. says

    Andreas Avester@#3:
    A single man having lots of biological descendants and the resulting inbreeding sure strengthens the human gene pool.

    See: Genghis Khan.

  6. machintelligence says

    “This may be the foundation of Epstein’s plan to impregnate as many as 20 young women at a time at his New Mexico ranch…”
    Since genetic fitness is defined as having a larger number of offspring in succeeding generations, it is a very Darwinian approach.
    A selfish man with selfish genes. 😉

  7. says

    Marcus Ranum @#5

    I was thinking about Joseph Jessop and Mormon polygamists’ children who are disproportionately likely to develop fumarase deficiency.

    This is why there exist laws that limit how many children a single sperm donor can have. For example, when my boyfriend volunteered, he was informed that Latvian laws don’t allow more than three children per one sperm donor.

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