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

Margaret Abrams

With recent news about Jeffrey Epstein being under federal indictment on charges of sexual trafficking and abusing young girls, there’s one name that keeps coming up - his former girlfriend and alleged 'madam', British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

The now-controversial socialite came to New York in 1991, after her father Robert Maxwell died when he fell overboard 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 Oxford University, 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 57 years old and largely off the radar. She hasn’t spent time with Epstein in a few years, since he pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida charges of soliciting prostitution, serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail.

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

The site now reads, “The TerraMar Project is sad to announce that it will cease all operations. The web site will be closed.”

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