Ghislaine Maxwell: Socialite’s life of luxury with rich and royal friends

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Ghislaine Maxwell was once a “sophisticated” and “very impressive” British socialite until her affiliation with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein led to her detention for alleged sex trafficking.

The daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, the 59-year-old attempted to start a new life in Manhattan after his death in 1991 and met Epstein the following year.

Mr Maxwell was found drowned after apparently falling from his yacht – called Lady Ghislaine – off the Tenerife coast.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Maxwell lived a life of luxury before her detention in the US (US Department of Justice)

Both were cleared of fraud in 1996.

Despite attempts from Maxwell’s defence counsel to distance her from Epstein, a vast array of photographs of the pair in a variety of exotic locations have surfaced – with images of her massaging the convicted sex offender’s feet suggesting a close relationship.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Photos appeared to show Maxwell and Epstein had a close relationship (US Department of Justice)

With the fortune he made from his financial dealings, Epstein and Maxwell lived a life of luxury jetting around the world and living at the millionaire’s many properties – including a Manhattan town house, his Palm Beach mansion, a ranch in New Mexico and his private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Maxwell’s friends also included royalty – she had known the Duke of York since her days at university and introduced Andrew to her former partner Epstein.

In a Newsnight interview, Prince Andrew admitted he organised a shooting weekend for the defendant at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

Aurelia Cecil Wedding Duke of York
Maxwell’s trial heard she bragged of having high-profile friends such as the Duke of York (Chris Ison/PA)

But an allegation he had sex with Virginia Roberts on three separate occasions – once allegedly at Maxwell’s Belgravia home – ultimately damaged his reputation.

The defendant was featured in the background of a picture which apparently showed Andrew with his arm around the waist of Ms Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre.

The duke categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Roberts.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
The Duke of York denies any form of sexual contact with Ms Roberts (US Department of Justice)

Her trial has now heard she allegedly summoned a 14-year-old girl to an orgy, groped another teenager and laid a schoolgirl outfit out for another accuser before a sexualised massage with Epstein because she “thought it would be fun”.

Epstein killed himself in a federal detention centre in New York in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

In her opening statement to the jury, United States Assistant Attorney said of Maxwell: “She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused.

“The defendant was trafficking kids for sex. That is what this trial is all about.”

Defending the socialite, her counsel Bobbi Sternheim told the jury: “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things Jeffrey Epstein did.

“But she is not Jeffrey Epstein.”

Maxwell denies all charges.

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