From private jets to prison: How British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 60, was to the manor born but will now live out her days in a 10x12ft jail cell after guilty verdict in sex trafficking trial
Once a well-heeled socialite and daughter of a British publishing magnate, Ghislaine Maxwell now faces the rest of her life in a tiny prison cell after being convicted of sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell, who just turned 60 on Christmas Day, was found guilty on five of six counts on Thursday – a spectacular downfall for the former London society girl who later moved into the highest circles of New York’s social scene.
But how did the silver-spoon-born daughter of disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell – accustomed to private jets, yachts and beach homes – fall from grace?
It was her years-long romantic and business relationship with one man – Jeffrey Epstein – the late pedophile whose apparent prison suicide in 2019 left a target on his ‘partner in crime’s’ back.
Even with the shocking charges leveled against her, Maxwell maintained her innocence against claims she procured young women for Epstein and engaging in sexual assault against them herself. Her youngest alleged victim was just 14.
Once a well-heeled member of London and New York’s social scene and daughter of a newspaper tycoon, Ghislaine Maxwell now faces life in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking charges on Thursday. She’s pictured holding a photo of her late father Robert Maxwell
Maxwell has maintained her innocence on all charges of procuring young women for Epstein and engaging in sexual assault against them herself. Her youngest alleged victim was just 14
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 grew up in a 51-room English country mansion called Headington Hill Hall, where politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors attended lavish parties.
She spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death when he fell off his superyacht – named The Lady Ghislaine.
Ghislaine was Robert Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961.
Her brother Michael was severely brain damaged in a car accident just days later at age 15, although he lived for another seven years.
Her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoir that she and Robert were so focused on their injured son that their baby daughter was overlooked. So neglected was Ghislaine that at the age of 3 she stood in front of her mother and said, ‘Mummy, I exist!’
‘I was devastated,’ Elisabeth Maxwell wrote in ‘A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell.’ ‘And from that day on, we all made a great effort with her, fussing over her so much that she became spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about.’
Robert Maxwell bought the rights to German scientific journals, the beginnings of a publishing empire that included the Daily Mirror as well as the New York Daily News and the book publisher Macmillan.
He fathered nine children and was elected to the British Parliament twice, while earning a reputation as a bully.
Robert Maxwell (back row, center) pictured with his wife Betty (sat with youngest daughter Ghislaine on her knee) and seven of their eight children at home in Headington Hill Hall, Oxford. When this photo was taken Ian (5) was 11 years old and attending preparatory school, while Isabel, then 17 (4) was at grammar school with their sister Christine (3), and youngest son Kevin, 8, (6) was at preparatory school. Second oldest son Philip, (1), had entered his second undergraduate year at Balliol College, Oxford, while Anne (2) 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 (pictured front) 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
Four of Maxwell’s siblings – Kevin, Isabel, Ian and Christine – arrived to court to support their sister Monday
Ghislaine studied history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s where she began building connections of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth’s country estate.
After graduating, she went on to work for her father. In 1991, at age 29, she became his U.S. emissary after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with fellow media tycoon, New York Post owner Rupert Murdoch.
It was later that year that her father fell off his yacht and died in the Canary Islands, in what some saw as an accident and others a suicide.
It was later revealed he had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to prop up his empire.
Soon after her father’s death, Ghislaine was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.
Ghislaine studied history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s where she began building connections of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth’s country estate
Ghislaine was Robert Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961 She’s pictured with her father in 1984
Ghislaine Maxwell is seen sifting through the mountain’s of ‘Draw Coupon’ entries at Maxwell House in 1984 – before getting involved with Jeffrey Epstein
John Sweeney, a longtime U.K. journalist and creator of the podcast ‘Hunting Ghislaine,’ told the Associated Press he believes that ‘after the monster her father died, she found a second monster.’
‘Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were dependent upon his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker figure, a worse human being,’ Sweeney said.
Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was ‘in the dirt’ at home. Amid the family’s reputational and financial woes, she had to make her own way in New York and forge new friendships, he said.
One of those was with Epstein, a onetime teacher who built his own fortune on the back of contacts like the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.
‘My father was a powerful man — you know, an alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, all of us, all of the brothers and sisters have had to somehow deal with that,’ Ian Maxwell said. ‘Ghislaine was no exception. But clearly to then say, ‘Well, you know, he dies, then she moves along to the next rich man.’ I just don’t buy that.’
In sworn testimony for an earlier civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with Epstein but said she later became his employee, tasked with things like hiring staff for his six homes.
‘I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people,’ Maxwell said during a deposition in April 2016. ‘A very small part of my job was to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.’
Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was ‘in the dirt’ at home
Ghislaine spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death when he fell off his superyacht – named The Lady Ghislaine (pictured)
But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring multiple underage girls — many students at a local high school — to perform sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.
Years of civil litigation followed, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse. Prosecutors in New York revived the case and charged Epstein with sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in jail before he could face trial.
The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to give Epstein massages that progressed into sexual abuse. One was just 14 at the time. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one accuser, prosecutors allege.
Virginia Giuffre, who has filed a related civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew but isn’t part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a ‘Mary Poppins’ figure who made young girls feel comfortable as they were being lured into Epstein’s web.
Giuffre alleges she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Other encounters with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.
Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million with her husband Scott Borgerson— and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking
Borgerson bought this $2.4million home in Manchester-by-the-Sea in June 2016. After Maxwell moved in, they were unable to find peace in their community
Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million with her husband Scott Borgerson— and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking.
Maxwell was just protecting herself from the press, her lawyers said in court papers — a notion U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan rejected.
Nathan repeatedly denied Maxwell bail, deeming the risk of her fleeing too great. The judge’s decision has left Maxwell isolated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said imprisonment was preventing his sister from receiving a fair trial.
Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about the Epstein allegations over nearly two decades, but in a 2016 deposition in a civil case, she said she learned about the allegations against him ‘like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers.’
She said she never saw Epstein getting massages from anyone under 18 and that no one ever complained to her that Epstein demanded sex.
‘Never,’ she declared.