Epstein, a disgraced financier who used his wealth and connections to operate a child sex trafficking ring for the rich and powerful, died of an apparent suicide in a New York detention centre while awaiting trial.
The private islands are located in the U.S. Virgin Islands and played a key role in Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. In 2020, prosecutors alleged that Epstein would bring girls as young as 11 to the islands via yacht or private helicopter so that he and his associates could assault them.
The pair of islands are known as Great St. James, stretching over 65 hectares, and Little St. James, which spans over 28 hectares. Epstein purchased Little St. James in 1998 for $8 million and built his permanent residence there in 2010.
In 2016 he acquired Great St. James for almost $20 million, and was in the process of developing a new estate there until his 2019 arrest.
Testimony that surfaced during the trial of his ex-girlfriend and now-convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell revealed that Epstein liked to refer to his island estate as “Little St. Jeff’s,” but locals preferred to call it “Pedophile Island.”
According to marketing materials for the sale of the islands, Little St. James houses a helipad, private dock, two pools, four guest villas alongside a main residential compound, three private beaches, a gym, a tiki hut and a gas station.
One woman who was brought to the island told The Telegraph that she was so desperate to escape Epstein that she tried to swim to neighbouring St. Thomas. She stole a quad bike but was caught before making it to the coast.
Great St. James is largely untouched but has a marine preserve called Christmas Cove within the property. Yahoo News reports that Epstein had drawn up plans for homes, an amphitheatre, an underwater office and a pool to be built on the island.
The lawyer for Epstein’s estate, Daniel Weiner, says the money generated from the sale of the two islands will be used to maintain the properties and pay off Epstein’s outstanding lawsuits.
In August 2021, the fund for Epstein’s victims wound down its operations after paying claimants a combined $121 million.
As of now, the two St. James islands are subject to criminal activity liens put in place by Denise George, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney-general, who filed a civil lawsuit against the Epstein estate. The suit claims that Epstein created a network of associates, properties, shell companies and charitable organizations to aid in his trafficking ring. The liens against Epstein’s assets give the attorney-general de facto control over the estate’s financials.
The complaint reads, “Epstein, through and in association with defendants, trafficked, raped, sexually assaulted and held captive underage girls and young women at his properties in the Virgin Islands.”
ABC News reported that the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands and lawyers for Epstein’s estates are close to negotiating a resolution to the restrictions. Until then, the proceeds of the sale of the islands will be held in liened accounts, according to Weiner.
The two St. James islands comprise a small fraction of Epstein’s substantial property holdings. His Upper East Side mansion in Manhattan and home in Palm Beach, Calif., have already been sold. Epstein’s apartment in Paris and New Mexico ranch are also listed to sell.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.