When Jeffrey Epstein died, he left an estate with an estimated value of $600 million. Has huge finances, private jet and magnificent assets including a hidden island, a large mansion in Manhattan and a farm in New Mexico of 7,600 acres.
But taxes, property preservation and temperature-controlled preservation for his art collection – as well as $121 million for settlements with more than 135 women who have accused him of sexually abusing them when they were young – which has since reduced Mr. Epstein’s estate. It’s now worth about a third of its value when the financier, 66, hanged himself in a Manhattan cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges two and a half years ago.
The biggest ongoing outlay is legal costs: $30 million so far to law firms used to clean up Mr. Epstein’s affairs. Attorneys have helped arrange settlements, liquidations, and sifting through a man’s complex assets his own foreign bank.
The work will not be over anytime soon. The estate still has to settle a civil fraud lawsuit, brought by the Virgin Islands attorney general, who claims that Mr. Epstein used the territory to facilitate a criminal enterprise by taking it out of more than $70 million in tax revenue. And Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former associate, who convicted of sex trafficking last monthsued the estate to get her legal fees back.
Under the terms of a secret trust Mr. Epstein set up and named in a will drawn up just two days before his death, not until all that is over.
The details of the trust are not made public. But Karyna Shuliak, Epstein’s girlfriend and the last person he spoke to on the phone before committing suicide, will be one of the main beneficiaries. The New York Times reported earlier. Ms. Shuliak, a native of Belarus, is a dentist who has shared an office on the island of St. Thomas with Mr. Epstein’s Southern Trust Company. An attorney for Ms. Shuliak declined to comment.
Real Estate paid $9 million to the attorneys and their team, who established and oversaw victim compensation fundand $21 million to at least 16 law firms for services and expenses, as assessed by quarterly financial statements filed by the estate in Superior Court in the Virgin Islands.
Five companies – Troutman Pepper, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, White & Case, McLaughlin & Stern and Kellerhals Ferguson Kroblin – have charged fees in excess of the average award of nearly $900,000 to victims from the compensation fund. An attorney for the nine accusers who filed the lawsuit questioned the size of those legal bills.
“It is appalling that Jeffrey Epstein’s estate distribution attorneys are profiting more than his victims,” said Florida attorney Spencer Kuvin, who has sought compensation for several of Epstein’s accusers. for over a decade.
Daniel Weiner, an attorney for Hughes Hubbard who billed the estate for more than $6 million, said it was wrong to compare legal fees and payment amounts. He said those who run the site, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, did not set a limit on the amount awarded by the compensation fund, which an independent administrator oversees.
Participating victims can avoid litigation costs that could reduce the amount they receive, he added. (The victim’s attorney is being paid in addition to the award; a third is typical.)
Mr. Weiner said he would not discuss whether Mr. Indyke and Mr. Kahn, who were longtime advisers to Mr. Epstein, would ultimately receive any proceeds from the estate through the trust. waterfall or not.
“The trust that Mr. Epstein created prior to his death has not and will not be funded, if at all, until all estate claims are resolved,” Mr. Weiner said in a statement. “Public curiosity about incidental beneficiaries who may never receive anything from the trust cannot justify a violation of their legitimate privacy interests. .”
Although the legal costs of estates continue to rise, William LaPiana, a professor at New York Law School and a fund and real estate expert, says the costs are, by far, fairly typical.
It is not uncommon for legal fees in complex estates associated with extensive litigation to reach 5% of the property’s initial value, Mr. LaPiana said. Legal fees unrelated to the compensation fund currently represent about 3.5% of the initial value of the property.
“I do not believe a court will decide that excessive fees are admittedly excessive,” he said.
The fees are just one component of a long list of expenses that drained Mr. Epstein’s fortune largely by providing financial and tax advice to a small group of wealthy men. . Among them are two billionaires: Black Leonfounder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Capital, and Leslie Wexnerfounder of a retail empire that once had Victoria’s Secret.
The estate’s tax bill alone is about $180 million. Maintain properties – two tropical islands, farm and a Apartment in Paris still unsold – cost millions of dollars more. The estate is also paying about $15,000 a month to store Epstein’s art collection in a temperature-controlled warehouse in Long Island City, according to court records. Other typical costs include about $390 a month for Verizon for phone services and about $154 a month for Dish for satellite TV services, the filings show.
The cash came when the property was sold off: $66 million from the sale of Epstein’s former homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., though it was much lower than their asking price. A Gulfstream jet, one of three that Epstein owns, sold in late 2020 for $10 million, about $7 million less than the property’s value.
In August, the estate sold half of its interest to a yacht club on St. Thomas for $4.6 million. A few months earlier, the company had sold his Sikorsky helicopter for $1.5 million. Other property sales yielded more modest sums: In September, the estate received $985 for an “Ikea blue fluffy rug” and outdoor furniture from the island home of Mr. Epstein.
The value of the estate is now around $185 million, and the litigation with the Virgin Islands is likely to wipe out most of that.
Denise George, the territory’s attorney general, applied civil fraud complaint against the estate two years ago, alleging that Mr. Epstein received an improper tax payment that allowed him to finance the sex trade. That wrongly deprives the territory, which has poverty rates nearly twice the national average, of much-needed revenue, Ms. George said. She is looking to recover tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue, plus damages.
Ms. George’s office has retained a law firm, Motley Rice, to handle much of its investigation. The attorney general’s office said Motley Rice’s compensation will ultimately be based on any judgment or recovery in the case.
The two sides began settlement talks last year, although the parties have not reached an agreement, the two briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were confidential. secret.
Sandra Goomansingh, a spokeswoman for Ms. George, declined to comment on whether the parties were engaged in settlement negotiations. Mr. Weiner also declined to comment on settlement negotiations.
The size of any settlement depends in part on how much money the two islands off the coast of St. Mr. Epstein’s Thomas can be obtained on sale. According to the most recent quarterly report, his net worth is about 20 million USD. But a local real estate agent said they could be much more than that.
The representative, April Newland, who specializes in selling luxury real estate, said she has introduced the islands to a number of interested buyers, including some crypto investors. Ms Newland said getting both for just $20 million would be “stealing”.
“There is a market for private islands,” she said. “And once they start marketing them, they’ll go.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/business/jeffrey-epstein-estate.html Where does Jeffrey Epstein’s money go?