Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? The life of Jeffrey Epstein’s former socialite girlfriend and alleged 'madam'

Margaret Abrams
Jeffrey Epstein with former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell at a concert in 2005: Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Jeffrey Epstein’s close friend and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are reportedly appearing in court in New York as records are being unsealed.

Maxwell has been in hiding and was only spotted once publicly, but her pricey legal team is appearing in court against Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre alleges that she was recruited by Maxwell and later introduced to Prince Andrew by the British socialite.

Giuffre appeared in a Panorama video where she said her encounter with Prince Andrew left her "feeling horrified and ashamed” but he has denied all allegations, saying, "I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever."

While Maxwell has been under the radar, here’s what to know about Epstein’s alleged co-conspirator.

Epstein pleaded not guilty and was set to go on trial in June, however, the disgraced billionaire was found unresponsive in his New York City holding cell after a suicide attempt on August 10, 2019. He was later pronounced dead and his passing has since put more of a spotlight on Maxwell.

Although Maxwell has remained elusive since the news broke, she was spotted in Los Angeles eating a burger at fast food chain In-N-Out in August 2019. The New York Post shared pictures of her reading The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. She was accompanied by a dog.

After she was spotted, she reportedly told someone at the chain, "Well, I guess this is the last time I’ll be eating here!”

The now-controversial socialite came to New York in 1991, after her father Robert Maxwell died when he fell off of his boat in November of that same year. Some people speculated that his death, which happened under mysterious circumstances, was a murder.

Robert Maxwell (Getty Images)

Ghislane's father owned British tabloids including The Mirror and The Daily News. At one point, British Government fraud investors deemed him “unsuited to run a public company."

He owned a yacht called Lady Ghislaine and a 53-room mansion where his daughter grew up.

She was the youngest of nine, but a favorite judging by the boat’s name. She attended University of Oxford, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is also a helicopter pilot, trained as an EMT, and has spoken at the UN nine times, according to her Ted Talk introduction.

Ghislaine Maxwell and Naomi Campbell in 2002 (Getty Images)

Throughout their time together, Maxwell's relationship with Epstein appeared to evolve. At first, she was his girlfriend. She then continued to help him after they broke up, connecting him with her high-profile friends and managing his multiple homes. She had numerous famous friends of her own, including Prince Andrew, magician David Copperfield, President Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein.

She allegedly helped Epstein recruit young girls to give him massages, according to a former employee in Palm Beach who called her the “lady of the house." She has denied this claim.

She was also described as his “aggressive assistant."

Ghislaine Maxwell with Prince Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson (Getty Images)

Epstein called Maxwell his “best friend” and at one point, she advertised for a yoga instructor to work for him.

Maxwell is now 58 and largely off the radar. She last spent time with Epstein before he pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida charges of soliciting prostitution, serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail.

After his jail time, she continued her social life, even giving a Ted Talk about protecting the oceans. She went to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010 and the decidedly A-list Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2014, where she posed alongside Elon Musk.

By 2016, she was off the New York City socialite circuit for good, according to The New York Times. After that, there were rumors that she was living in London. Her lawyers have claimed she lives there but have not revealed where.

Kristy Caylor, Esperanza Spalding and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2013 (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Maxwell shut down her nonprofit the TerraMar Project before new charges against Epstein became public. While she has not been named in the recent charges, she has previously been accused of procuring girls for Epstein

Though Maxwell is a key figure in the Epstein case, she has not been arrested and has repeatedly denied the accusations leveled against her.