The asking price for the renowned property that sits at 9 East 71st Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side is as massive as the home itself: $88 million. Its $31,000 a month property tax assessment is roughly half of the average American's annual salary.
The seven-floor townhouse that sits a half block from Central Park is rich in history. It even comes with its own Wikipedia page. According to descriptions on several real estate websites, the "[property] was the last and largest of just a handful of goliath mansions built during its era in the 1930's."
Absent from the descriptions are the home's most recent history and most infamous occupant: Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein not only lived in the historic mansion for more than two decades but, according to federal authorities, used it as the backdrop for some of his most horrifying alleged sexual crimes against young girls. In August 2019, one month after his arrest, he was found hanging in his Manhattan jail cell, in what was ruled a suicide.
Epstein's initials – "JE" – on display at the home's front entrance came down soon after.
Nearly one year later, Epstein's longtime confidante, Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, would be arrested in connection with the trafficking operation, accused of running the recruitment arm of Epstein's alleged operation. If convicted, the British socialite could face up to 35 years in prison. She all charges against her.
For years, Maxwell is said to have been a fixture at Epstein's townhouse. Authorities say young girls abused at the mansion were often vulnerable young teens lacking stability, and were promised cash and education – essentially, a better life – by Maxwell and Epstein.
According to alleged victims, Maxwell would be so brazen as to demand her driver to pull over when she would spot a young girl she eyed as a potential recruit walking in the neighborhood, described in the mansion's sales listing as a "unique location on the Upper East Side's most desired block flanked by Central Park on Fifth Avenue."
Epstein also owned a home in Florida, a 10,000-acre ranch in New Mexico, an extravagant flat in Paris and an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. But it was the mansion in Manhattan that revealed the most about the man accused of being the most prolific pedophile in U.S. history.
When federal agents raided the Upper East Side home after Epstein's July 2019 arrest, prosecutors said they found "an extraordinary volume of photographs of nude and partially nude young women or girls," in addition to "piles of cash," "dozens of diamonds," and an expired passport with Epstein's picture and a fake name.
Maria Farmer, an alleged victim who also worked for Epstein as a "doorwoman" at the mansion, he had extensive surveillance.
"If you're facing the house, there's a window on the right that's barred. That's the media room, is what he called it. And so, there was a door that looked like an invisible door with all this limestone and everything. And you push it, and you go in. And I saw, all the cameras, it was, like, old televisions basically, like, stacked," Farmer told CBS This Morning's Anthony Mason in 2019.
"They were monitors inside this cabinet. And there were men sitting here. And I looked on the cameras, and I saw toilet, toilet, bed, bed, toilet, bed. I'm like, 'I am never gonna use the restroom here and I'm never gonna sleep here,' you know what I mean? It was very obvious that they were, like, monitoring private moments," explained Farmer.
Before Epstein's crimes became widely known, the world's rich, famous and powerful visited, dined and partied with Epstein at the townhouse. A handful have been accused of participating in the sexual abuse, including Great Britain's Prince Andrew, who was pictured peering out the door of Epstein's mansion in 2010.
Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre she was trafficked to the New York mansion, as well as Epstein's properties in Florida and the Virgin Islands. for sex with several high profile men, including Prince Andrew. The prince denies any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's alleged crimes. He asserts he never had sex with Giuffre, saying, "I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever." Prince Andrew stepped down from his public duties last year amid resurfacing allegations.
While Andrew is royalty, Epstein lived like it. The 40-room mansion was adorned with art and artifacts. A stuffed tiger sat perched on the floor of Epstein's office and in another room was a stuffed giraffe. In a 2003 Vanity Fair expose titled "The Talented Mr. Epstein," reporter Vicky Ward described a huge, Oriental fantasy of a woman holding an opium pipe and caressing a snarling lionskin. Other details in the report included "row upon row of individually framed eyeballs" and a "leather room" with leopard print chairs.
President Bill Clinton was the subject of one of Epstein's many pieces of eclectic art. According to Vanity Fair, a painting purporting to depict the president in a blue dress and red high heels hung in the townhouse.
In July 2019, Angel Urena, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, tweeted that the former president "made one brief visit" to Epstein's Manhattan home in 2002, accompanied by a staff member and security detail. Urena said Mr. Clinton knew "nothing about the terrible crimes" Epstein was accused of and had "not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade."
Neither Giuffre or anyone else has accused Mr. Clinton of participating in Epstein's alleged abuse ring.
The mansion was commissioned to be built in 1930. As the sales listing on Zillow describes it:
"Built as New York City's largest and most luxurious French Neo-Classical Mansion on a 50 foot wide by 102.2 foot deep lot, in excess of 28,000 square feet, some of the property's luxuries include 15-foot-tall oak entry doors, imported French-limestone meticulously decorated with carvings, sculpture figures and ornamental iron works. [Original owner] Mr. [Herbert] Straus even transported antiques and fixtures along with 'entire 18th-century rooms' from Europe."
The property would later be purchased by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and converted into a 50-bed hospital wing, according to the sales literature. Twenty years later it would be sold again and transformed into a college preparatory day school.
In 1989, billionaire Leslie Wexner, the founder of L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, purchased the property for $13.2 million, according to a detailed account by the New York Times. "Mr. Wexner then spent at least that much on artwork — including multiple works by Picasso — Art Deco furnishings, Russian antiques, rosewood tables and doors and a gut renovation of the home. Security devices, including a network of cameras, were installed. A cellar was divided into separate spaces, one for red wines and another for white," the Times reported. But it seems Wexner never actually moved in. Instead, the Times continued, he transferred ownership of the property to Epstein, his longtime financial adviser.
There have long been questions about the Wexner-Epstein relationship, primarily the nature of their financial connection. Wexner has denied any knowledge of Epstein's abuse of young women. In a statement emailed to L Brands employees one week after Epstein's 2019 arrest, Wexner wrote, "When Mr. Epstein was my personal money manager, he was involved in many aspects of my financial life. But let me assure you that I was NEVER aware of the illegal activity charged in the indictment." In the statement, Wexner claimed to have severed ties with Epstein "nearly 12 years" prior.
Brad Edwards, a Florida attorney who represents multiple Epstein accusers, said he does not believe Wexner was aware of Epstein's alleged sexual crimes.
Today, the mansion belongs to Epstein's estate, which is being legally pursued for damages by dozens of his alleged victims. It's unclear where the proceeds from its sale would ultimately end up.
The sales listing suggests that the "historic landmark could easily present itself as a palatial consulate, embassy, foundation, or a museum to once again house some of the world's greatest works of art."
The seller appears to be encouraging a fresh start for the storied property, offering up not only a new home but a blank page for a new chapter. It's described as a "once in a life-time opportunity to own the largest single-family home in New York City."
A sales pitch, albeit in no way associated with the alleged crimes that proceed it, that echoes the pitch Epstein and Maxwell are accused of making to vulnerable young women: a better life.
Additional reporting by Hilary Cook and Cassandra Gauthier.
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