At The New York Times’s Dealbook conference on Nov. 6, Gates said he shouldn’t have met with Epstein, a financier who was allegedly a billionaire but had a net worth of about $560 million when he died.
“I made a mistake in judgment that I thought that those discussions would lead, literally, to billions of dollars to global health,” Gates said.
“And I gave him some benefit by the association. So I made a doubly wrong mistake there.”
Gates also said it is “tricky” recruiting billionaires to sign his Giving Pledge, which encourages rich people to donate a portion of their wealth, because of the way some have made their fortunes.
“I feel bad: We probably will at some point accept someone into the Giving Pledge and it will turn out that their fortune is a disreputable fortune,” he said.
Gates has been defensive about his meetings with Epstein, which included flying with Epstein on his infamous plane in 2013.
A Gates spokeswoman said in August that Gates didn’t have a personal or business relationship with Epstein. She declined to address the flight records.
In emails reportedly sent after meeting with Epstein, Gates wrote, “His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me.”
At one meeting, Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin and her 15-year-old daughter were present. The meeting went for several hours and afterward, Gates emailed people telling them about it.
“A very attractive Swedish woman and her daughter dropped by and I ended up staying there quite late,” he wrote in some of the messages.
Gates said last month that he did meet Epstein.
“I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him. I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that. There were people around him who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people,” Gates said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
“Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.”