Even as his attorneys Thursday reportedly proposed a $77 million package to spring him from jail, reports are emerging that wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein may not be so wealthy after all.
The politically-connected 66-year-old — accused of running a sex trafficking operation involving underage girls — has mostly been described by news outlets as a billionaire and, recently, “a man of nearly infinite means,” by federal prosecutors.
But while Epstein is certainly well-to-do, it’s unclear whether descriptors painting the registered sex offender as being particularly rich are accurate.
On Monday, Forbes reported Epstein — who pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges the same day — has never been included on the publication’s “Billionaires” list of the world’s richest people “since there is scant proof he holds a ten-figure fortune.”
Epstein owns several luxurious properties, including a 100-acre island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York. But the 66-year-old financier turns monkish when probed about the source of wealth.
Following his arrest, he refused to provide authorities with even basic information about his income and assets. His attorney has since said Epstein’s other lawyers intend to provide that information but want to make sure it’s correct first.
“Little is known or said about Epstein’s business except this: He manages money for the extremely wealthy,” the Palm Beach Post reported in 2006 after Epstein’s legal troubles began in Florida. “He is said to handle accounts only of $1 billion or greater.”
Outside of wealth management, Epstein, through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, claims to have been a generous donor to charities and universities throughout the U.S. But, according to an NBC News report published Thursday, Epstein’s suggestions of charitable donations seem to have been, at best, exaggerated — and several places to which he supposedly gave money allegedly didn’t receive any donations from him at all.
The foundation, for example, listed the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as a recipient of his donations from between 2010 and 2012 — but a spokesperson for the museum told the news outlet it “has not received any major donations from Jeffrey Epstein or his foundation, only that he purchased tickets to two benefits in the early 1990s.”
Some of Epstein’s assets include his six residences — including his controversial private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands and a New York City mansion reportedly valued at $77 million. He also reportedly owns 15 cars and a pair of private jets.
Defense lawyers who filed the bail proposal Thursday asked Epstein be placed in home detention in his Manhattan apartment, according to CNBC. The mortgage on that Upper East Side home would be used to secure his bail.
In court on Monday, federal prosecutor Alex Rossmiller described Epstein as “a man of nearly infinite means.”
The son of a New York City parks department employee, Epstein grew up in Brooklyn. He taught calculus and physics at Dalton School, a prep school in Manhattan, from 1973 to 1975, despite not having a college degree.
He left in the mid-1970s for a job at Bear Stearns at the urging of a student’s father, who arranged a meeting with the chairman of the investment bank, according to published reports. He later began his own money-management business, J. Epstein & Co.
If convicted of the sex trafficking charges brought against him, Epstein could get up to 45 years in prison.
Fox Business’ Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.