When Jeffrey Epstein failed to persuade Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to participate in a multibillion-dollar charitable fund, the disgraced financier threatened to reveal an extra-marital affair Gates had with a Russian woman unless Gate paid up.
New details about Epstein and Gates “reveal a layer of complexity to their relationship and shed new light on how Epstein operated,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
In the years between his 2008 conviction and deat in 2019, Epstein continued meeting with politicians, businessmen, academics and celebrities, doing favors and using the connections to help himself. “And when the relationships soured, he could turn against people,” WSJ reported.
Epstein discovered that the Microsoft co-founder had an affair with Russian bridge player Mila Antonova. They around 2010, when she was in her 20s, according to the people familiar with the matter. Epstein met Antonova in 2013 and later paid for her to attend software coding school. In 2017, Epstein emailed Gates and asked to be reimbursed for the cost of the course, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Boris Nikolic, a Gates confidant and top science adviser at the time who also knew Epstein, introduced Epstein to Antonova to help her raise funds for an online business she wanted to start to teach people how to play bridge, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
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Epstein was accused in 2006 of sexually abusing girls as young as 14. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, spent time in a Florida jail and registered as a sex offender. He was arrested again in 2019 on sex trafficking charges after the Miami Herald reported on dozens more women who said they were abused. Epstein died in jail on Aug. 19, 2019 while awaiting trial.
Epstein’s email came after repeatedly trying and failing to interest Gates in participating charitable fund that Epstein tried to establish with JPMorgan Chase. “The implication behind the message, according to people who have viewed it, was that Epstein could reveal the affair if Gates didn’t keep up an association between the two men,” WSJ reported.
Gates has said he and Epstein met a few times. Documents show he had more than six meetings scheduled with Epstein, including dinners at his New York townhouse, WSJ reported. Gates flew on Epstein’s private plane from New Jersey to Florida in March 2013, according to flight records. They also met in France with an official on the Nobel Peace Prize committee that month. They spent much of a day together in New York City in September 2014 meeting other billionaires, the Journal reported. With a net worth of $100 billion, Gates was one of the best-known names in Epstein’s calendar.
They met “solely for philanthropic purposes,” a Gates spokeswoman told the WSJ. “Having failed repeatedly to draw Mr. Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates.”
Antonova and Nikolic met at Epstein’s townhouse in November 2013 where she asked him to raise $500,000 for her bridge startup, BridgePlanet. Epstein did not invest in the project, Antonova said. in November 2014, Antonova stayed at an apartment in New York City provided by Epstein. Having failed to get funding for her startup, she said she decided to become a software programmer. Epstein agreed to help pay for a programming boot camp.
Epstein was trying to set up a multibillion-dollar charitable fund with JPMorgan funded by some of the world’s wealthiest people. He proposed that JPMorgan set up the fund with a minimum $100 million contribution per person and pay him millions of dollars in fees, documents show.
Epstein saw the fund as a way to fix his tarnished reputation, according to people with whom he shared what he was thinking, WSJ reported: “It hinged on securing support from Gates, the documents show.”
Gates and others never committed to the charitable fund and it never got off the ground. “The firm didn’t need him as a client,” a JPMorgan spokesman said, according to WSJ.
Epstein emailed Gates in 2017 about the Russian bridge player, years after the relationship had ended, according to people familiar with the matter. The email asked Gates for reimbursement for the costs of Antonova’s coding school, the people said.
The tone of the message was that Epstein knew about the affair and could expose it, the people said.
Gates didn’t make a payment, his spokesperson said. “Mr. Gates had no financial dealings with Epstein.”
On Dec. 27, 2022, the U.S. Virgin Islands filed a 30-page federal lawsuit in New York accusing JP Morgan Chase of having “facilitated, sustained, and concealed” Epstein’s human trafficking network. Twitter owner Elon Musk and Google co-founder Larry Page are among those who have been subpoenaed by the Virgin Islands over documents in the case.