Judge denies bail for Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell
Fox News’ Bryan Llenas reports on a judge denying bail for Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell due to her being a flight risk.
The New York City and Palm Beach homes of the late disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein are coming on the market for a total of roughly $110 million. Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse is listing for $88 million, while his waterfront compound in Palm Beach will ask $21.995 million, according to the listing agents.
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The homes are among the most valuable of Mr. Epstein’s international property portfolio, which also included an apartment in Paris, a ranch in New Mexico and a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While these are the first of the properties to be listed, Mr. Epstein’s other homes are also widely expected to hit the market.
Mr. Epstein died last August by suicide, hanging himself in his New York jail cell before he could stand trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. The proceeds of the home sales will go to his estate, which recently established a compensation fund to adjudicate claims from alleged victims of Mr. Epstein outside of court. An attorney for the estate’s executors said the proceeds will be subject to claims on the estate, including those by tax authorities, creditors and claimants.
Mr. Epstein made his fortune as a financial adviser by leveraging unusually close relationships with a small group of wealthy individuals. His estate is valued at roughly $636 million, not including taxes, debts and legal fees, according to an attorney for the executors.
Along the way Mr. Epstein acquired real estate in some of the world’s most prime locations. His New York City townhouse is among the city’s most sought-after properties, and could potentially set a record when it sells, according to listing agent Adam Modlin of Modlin Group. Mr. Modlin brokered a $77.1 million deal last year for a townhouse owned by former hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone; that sale set the current record, though that house was slightly narrower than Mr. Epstein’s roughly 50-foot-wide home.
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Mr. Epstein’s townhouse is located on the Upper East Side on one of the most prestigious blocks in the city, East 71st Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, close to the Frick Collection museum.
The house dates back to the early 1930s, when Herbert N. Straus, an heir to the Macy’s department store fortune, commissioned prominent Gilded Age architect Horace Trumbauer to design it, according to the book “American Splendor: The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer.”
The townhouse was later home to a school before Leslie Wexner, the billionaire retail tycoon and a onetime close associate of Mr. Epstein, bought it in 1989 for $13.2 million. In 1998, Mr. Wexner sold it to a Virgin Islands company headed by Mr. Epstein for $20 million, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The Neoclassical mansion spans about 28,000 square feet across seven floors, with oak entry doors, imported French limestone with carvings, sculptural figures and ornamental ironwork, Mr. Modlin said. Visitors to the property have also described a room filled with an elaborate video surveillance system.
A 2016 book on Mr. Epstein by James Patterson, John Connolly and Tim Malloy described the house as resembling a fortress, with “J.E.” in raised brass letters on the front door. “The imposing residence has a stone facade and a fifteen-foot-high front door that wouldn’t have looked out of place protecting a castle,” they wrote.
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The New York City property still contains much of Mr. Epstein’s furniture, though his more personal belongings have been removed, according to people who have seen the house.
In Palm Beach, Mr. Epstein’s compound is located roughly a mile from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private club, and just a few streets from the Everglades Golf Course. The property has 170 feet of water frontage on the Intracoastal Waterway, with space for a dock and views of Tarpon and Everglades islands, according to listing agent Kerry Warwick of the Corcoran Group. Designed by architect John Volk in West Indies style, the 1950s-era estate spans about 14,000 square feet, including the six-bedroom main house, a three-bedroom staff house and a pool house. The pool is surrounded by foliage and loggias. El Brillo Way, the short street on which the house is located, stretches from the Intracoastal to the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr. Epstein bought the Palm Beach property in 1990 for $2.5 million, records show.
Mr. Epstein’s homes played a central role in his alleged sex-trafficking ring, federal prosecutors said. In the indictment against him, prosecutors alleged that Mr. Epstein enticed and recruited underage girls to engage in sex acts with him at both his New York and Palm Beach properties. During a search of the Manhattan mansion in May, prosecutors said federal agents found a locked safe with “piles of cash,” dozens of diamonds and an expired foreign passport that listed Saudi Arabia as Mr. Epstein’s residence. Since his death, more than a dozen women have filed civil lawsuits against his representatives, business entities and his estate, seeking damages for emotional distress and other claims. Lawyers for Mr. Epstein’s estate have contested the claims.
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In 2007, Mr. Epstein signed a nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida to resolve an investigation into similar allegations. As part of that deal, he pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution counts.
The Palm Beach and New York homes are well-maintained and in good condition, the listing agents said, and both agents feel Mr. Epstein’s connection to the properties won’t harm the sales prices. “I believe the past ownership of the property will bear no relationship to its future,” Ms. Warwick said of the Palm Beach property. “The location and what can be done with it is really what matters.”
Other agents agreed that when it comes to prime real estate, a property’s history may not impact demand from buyers.
“Historically speaking, even the most notorious homes have found a buyer,” said Jason Haber, a New York real-estate agent at Warburg Realty who is not involved in the sale of the Epstein homes. “Buyers have been able to look past the headlines and what happened there and just look at the asset. It’s not like the house committed a crime.”
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein sold his West Village townhouse for $25.6 million in 2018, far more than the $14.95 million he paid for it in 2006, for instance. And Bernie Madoff’s Upper East Side penthouse sold for $8 million in 2010, $1 million more than the valuation placed on it by authorities.
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Local real-estate brokers said Mr. Epstein’s homes are, in many ways, well-positioned to find buyers.
In Palm Beach especially, brokers described a feeding frenzy over luxury single-family homes, as wealthy snowbirds from the Northeast opt to stay in Florida to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. The median price for a luxury home in Palm Beach was up nearly 70% to $14 million in the second quarter of 2020 from the same period last year, according to data from brokerage Douglas Elliman. That is due in part to a series of major transactions, including the $70 million sale of a former Kennedy family home.
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The market in New York has been comparatively weak, thanks largely to a complete ban on home showings at the start of the pandemic. The number of luxury sales in Manhattan fell by 54.2% in the second quarter and prices were down 11.3%, according to a report by Douglas Elliman.
But local brokers said they are now seeing a shift toward townhouses over high-rise condo living, as buyers search for more privacy and control over their environments.
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