Jeffrey Epstein has been referred to as a many things. He's a billionaire. He's a money manager. He's a power player. He's an alleged pedophile who has been arrested for the second time on charges of sex trafficking minors. He wears lots of hats. Jeffrey allegedly has a taste for young girls and has been hiring them for sex and providing them to friends for sex (allegedly) since about 1997. And whenever Jeffrey is in the news, he is almost always referred to as a "billionaire." But that begs a question: Clearly he is extremely rich, but is Jeffrey Epstein actually a billionaire? Was he once a billionaire and dropped out of the three comma club? And how did he earn his fortune in the first place? Inquiring minds want to know!
Jeffrey Epstein is all over the news right now thanks to his arrest on Saturday after landing his private jet at an airport in New Jersey. Today, FBI agents held a press conference where they detailed a laundry list of horrible acts that Jeffrey is alleged to have committed.
This is the second time Jeffrey has been arrested. He was first publicly accused of forcing underage girls to give happy endings against their will in 2005. Back then, an Australian woman claimed that she was "sexually exploited by Epstein's adult male peers including royalty" when she was just 17 years old. The royalty she was referring to was Prince Andrew, Prince Charles' brother.
Epstein started out as a calculus and physics teacher at the prestigious Dalton School from 1973 to 1975. Then he became an options trader at Bear Stearns. In 1980, he became a partner at Bear Stearns. Two years later, in 1982, Epstein founded J. Epstein & Co. His plan was to manage only the assets of clients with a net worth of more than one billion. In 1987, Les Wexner, founder of The Limited, became his client. For many years it has been rumored that Wexner was Epstein's benefactor.
In 1996, Epstein changed the name of his firm to The Financial Trust Company. For tax purposes, he based the company on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unlike most hedge funds that simply invest client money, The Financial Trust Company aimed to plan every financial aspect of its clients' lives, from philanthropy to tax planning. He required that clients give him full control over the money they invested, with a minimum of $1 billion. Unlike hedge funds that typically take a fee and a percentage of gains, Jeffrey only took a flat fee. At his peak he reportedly earned $100 million per year and managed $15 billion in client money.
Very little is known about his firm today. Epstein has never released a client list beyond Les Wexner. At one time, Epstein was listed as a trustee of The Wexner Foundation, however, when Epstein was charged with engaging in sex with minors, Wexner cut all ties. Without his old benefactor, does Epstein even have any clients with money to manage? Very few people on Wall Street have ever dealt with him as a money manager or financier.
Assets: Epstein has used his wealth to acquire a ton of incredible assets. He owns a penthouse in Manhattan that has been described as the largest private residence in New York City. Located on the Upper East Side, the home is a former private school that today is nine-stories and features 50,000 square feet of living space. This property is worth at least $77 million. He also owns a $12 million mansion in Palm Beach, an enormous ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, and a private island near St. John's in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He previously owned a Boeing 727 private jet that the media nicknamed "the Lolita Express" due to his alleged interactions with underage girls. According to Federal asset seizure forms, he owns at least 15 vehicles including seven Chevy Suburbans.
About that Manhattan mansion… Les Wexner bought it from the Birch Wathen School, a prep school, in 1989 for $13 million. He sold it in 1998 to an entity in the Virgin Islands called NES, LLC. Public records reveal that Epstein is tied to NEC. There are no property records in New York showing the transfer of ownership until 2011, when the company that Wexner used to buy the mansion transferred it to Epstein's Virgin Islands based Maple, Inc. for $0. Epstein signed the paperwork on both sides of the deal. This was right around the same time that Wexner dropped Epstein completely.
Is Jeffrey Epstein A Billionaire?
A decade ago when prosecutors in Florida were pressing for an accounting of his net worth, Epstein's lawyers initially pegged the number at zero. Clearly that was a strategy to play down his obvious wealth to lower potential future settlements.
Eventually Epstein's attorneys agreed to concede that their client had a net worth of at least "nine figures." From that point on, local Miami papers covering the case began referring to him as "Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein." But please note that "nine figures" would not make him a billionaire. At the very most, it would make him worth $999,999,999. At the very least it would make him worth $100,000,000.
One can presume that he is worth far more than $100 million considering his known real estate portfolio, as detailed in this article, is worth $100 – $200 million. If he earned $50 – $100 million per year throughout the late 80s and early 90s, clearly that created considerable wealth.
For what it's worth, neither Forbes nor Bloomberg have Epstein listed in their respective billionaire indexes.
For now, we are choosing to continue pegging Jeffrey Epstein's net worth at $1 billion. I mean, we're talking about the ultimate master of offshore bank accounts, right? But as time goes on and the charges against him mount, we will adjust that figure. Perhaps up. Perhaps down.