A newly unearthed interview with the now-deceased financier, Jeffrey Epstein, at his Little St. James Island home in 2003, has provided rare insight into his private life, career and wealth before he was arrested on federal charges on July 6 and died by apparent suicide just over a month later.
In the previously unpublished five-hour Wall Street Journal interview, obtained by Bloomberg, Epstein discusses a range of topics including his financial strategy and his love of math, music, and the sciences.
Epstein, however, gave the now-former Journal reporter an ambiguous response when asked how he made his vast fortune, which was estimated to be more than $500 million at the time of his arrest last month, reported Bloomberg.
🎙️ EXCLUSIVE | The Jeffrey Epstein Tapes: Hear a previously unpublished interview from 2003
— David S. Joachim (@davidjoachim) August 14, 2019
“Making money is my priority for how I think about things. Money itself and how people make money and how money is made in different ways,” Epstein, who was 50-years-old at the time, told journalist David Bank.
“So takeovers were a way to make money. Commodity trading was a way to make money. To me, the new one is currencies,” he added.
He described being able to employ personal staff with his wealth as “the first great luxury” but added that he had concerns fraudsters could “make spurious allegations” to damage his reputation.
“The idea is if nothing else he’ll buy me off. I’ll attack his reputation, and he’ll buy me off,” he said.
Alluding momentarily to his life behind closed doors, Epstein told Bank before the interview that there were “too many girls” at his main home on the private island, which he has owned since 1998—so the interview was to be conducted in his gazebo.
Just two years later, on March 2005, Epstein was investigated by Palm Beach police and faced allegations of child sex abuse. A teenage girl’s parents said Epstein had molested their 14-year-old.
He was arrested for the first time in 2006, and charged with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor reported the New York Times.
At the time of his death, Epstein was being held without bail and faced up to 45 years in prison on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed in July. According to court documents, the 66-year-old sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls—some as young as 14—at his homes in New York City and in Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations.
He was found unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City at 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.
Attorney General William Barr said there were “serious irregularities” at the prison that held Epstein. He announced on Aug. 12 that the FBI and the Office of Inspector General are conducting a “thorough investigation” into his death.
“I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and, frankly, angry,” Barr said in a statement in New Orleans.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened, and there will be accountability. But let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it.”
Barr said that the case involving Epstein is a priority for the department.
“This sex trafficking case was very important to the Department of Justice and to me personally,” he said. He said it was also crucial to agents working on it and to victims “who had the courage to come forward and deserve the opportunity to confront the accused in the courtroom.”
Epstein was previously found injured and semi-conscious in his prison cell with marks on his neck on July 24. It was unclear if the incident was a suicide attempt or an assault by another inmate. Following the incident, he was placed on suicide watch but was later taken off, according to reports.
A source told Reuters that the financier wasn’t on suicide watch at the time of his death. The source also said that at the facility, two jail guards are required to check on all inmates every 30 minutes, but added that the “procedure was not followed overnight.”
The Washington Post, citing an unnamed source, reported that corrections officers had not checked on Epstein for “several” hours before he was found unresponsive in his cell. He was also supposed to have had a cellmate. But for reasons that are still being investigated—he did not have one at the time of his death, the newspaper reported.
The Epoch Times reporter Janita Kan contributed to this report.