Jeffrey Epstein tried to blackmail Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates years ago after he found out the billionaire was having an affair with a Russian bridge player. according to a Wall Street Journal report about the notorious sex trafficker.
Gates supposedly met the woman around 2010, when she was in her 20s. Epstein, a disgraced financier, met the bridge player in 2013 and reportedly paid for her to take software programming classes. Epstein emailed Gates in 2017 requesting a refund for the course, people familiar with the matter told the Journal, which published its report Sunday.
Epstein reportedly sent the email after unsuccessfully trying to convince Gates to contribute to a multi-billion dollar charity fund he was planning to set up at JPMorgan Chase. According to the Journal’s report, the purpose behind Epstein’s email was to convey that he could expose Gates’ affair if the billionaire had no connection to the convicted sex offender.
A Gates representative did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but a spokesperson confirmed to the Journal that Epstein “attempted unsuccessfully to exploit a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates.”
Gates began his meeting with Epstein in 2011, when the financier was already convicted of sex crimes and required to register as a sex offender, The New York Times reported in 2019. Gates had previously said the purpose of meeting Epstein was to raise money for World Health, in line with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s goal of improving access to health care worldwide.
In January, Gates said he regretted maintaining a relationship with Epstein, although his ex-wife Melinda French Gates said she was uncomfortable at the meetings.
“You travel way back in time,” Bill Gates told Australia’s ABC show at 7.30am. “I’m going to say for the 100th time, yeah, I shouldn’t have had dinner with him.”
Mila Antonova, the bridge player, told the Journal that she was unaware of Epstein’s disgraced reputation when Gates confidant Boris Nikolic introduced her to him. Antonova tried unsuccessfully to get Epstein to fund her business idea of teaching people how to play bridge online, but the financier helped fund her to attend a coding boot camp.
“Epstein agreed to the payment and paid directly to the school,” she told the outlet. “Nothing was exchanged. I don’t know why he did that. When I asked, he said something like, “He’s wealthy and wants to help people whenever he can.”
Epstein was accused of sexually abusing young girls in 2006 and convicted two years later of recruiting and placing a minor into prostitution. The disgraced financier was registered as a sex offender and spent time in Florida jail.
Epstein was arrested again in 2019 on sex trafficking charges after a bombastic Miami Herald report revealed dozens more women who described the abuse. Later that same year, he was found dead in his New York jail cell while awaiting trial. The New York City Coroner’s Office concluded that he died by suicide.