Harvey Weinstein, formerly a major Hollywood producer—now the target of multiple sex abuse allegations—has used private security agencies to dig up information on people who, he thought, could accuse him of sexually inappropriate conduct, according to an investigation by journalist Ronan Farrow.
The private spies targeted women and journalists in order to stop them from exposing Weinstein, Farrow said in a New Yorker article, referring to documents and interviews he obtained.
One of the spies, an ex-Israeli military officer, posed as an executive at a fictitious wealth-management company, a women’s rights activist, and a victim of Weinstein’s sex abuse to extract information from actress Rose McGowan and others, Farrow wrote.
McGowan previously reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein over a 1997 encounter in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival, The New York Times wrote. She later accused Weinstein of rape.
The spy allegedly worked for Black Cube, a private intelligence agency hiring from elite Israeli intelligence units.
Weinstein allegedly retained Black Cube through his lawyer David Boies, to be covered by the attorney-client privilege.
Farrow wrote he obtained a contract dated July 11, 2017, signed by Boies, which stated that the investigation’s “primary objectives” were to “provide intelligence, which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper” and to “obtain additional content of a book which currently being written and includes harmful negative information on and about the Client.”
Farrow wrote “the Client” was identified in multiple documents as Weinstein.
Three sources told Farrow the “article” was The New York Times Oct. 5 exposé on Weinstein. The “book” was McGowan’s memoir “Brave,” set for publishing in January.
Black Cube promised “a dedicated team of expert intelligence officers that will operate in the USA and any other necessary country,” including intelligence analysts, linguists, and “Avatar Operators” hired to create fake identities on social media. It also promised “a full-time agent by the name of ‘Anna’ (hereinafter ‘the Agent’), who will be based in New York and Los Angeles as per the Client’s instructions and who will be available full time to assist the Client and his attorneys for the next four months.”
The agency invoiced Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, for $600,000 of which at least $100,000 has already been paid, Farrow wrote.
The agent “Anna” was identified by Farrow as a former officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, who introduced herself to McGowan as Diana Filip, the “deputy head of sustainable and responsible investments” at Reuben Capital Partners, a London-based wealth-management firm.
The firm’s generic website, which doesn’t name a single person responsible for its operation, is no longer functioning despite its claims of being “one of the UK’s most prominent providers of investment management services to wealthy individuals, foundations and charities” with “decades of experience.”
McGowan said she met and talked with Filip multiple times. Filip posed as a women’s rights activist and offered McGowan $60,000 for speaking at an event later that year. Filip also repeatedly said she planned to significantly invest in McGowan’s production company.
The spy recorded tens of hours of conversations with McGowan, which were used to produce over a hundred pages of transcripts and descriptions of McGowan’s book for Weinstein, Farrow wrote.
The spy also posed as one of Weinstein’s victims to get information from Ben Wallace, contributing editor at New York magazine who was also working on a story on Weinstein. Wallace said the woman only identified herself as Anna and he grew suspicious of her because she tried to get information on his investigation and sources. Also, she described her experience with Weinstein in a way that “seemed like soap-opera acting” to Wallace, Farrow wrote.
Boies acknowledged his firm’s involvement with Black Cube on Weinstein’s behalf was a mistake. “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,” he told Farrow. “At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.”
Black Cube told Farrow it doesn’t comment on its work for its clients.
Weinstein’s spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister denied he obtained parts of McGowan’s book and said, “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time,” Farrow wrote.