There are plenty of mysteries still swirling around Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who’s newly indicted for sex trafficking (he’s pleaded not guilty). But the biggest unanswered question remains how he made the nearly $600 million that he and his attorneys listed on his unaudited and unverified financial statement. In order to find out how he amassed his fortune, it may take subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to Wall Street types in Epstein’s inner circle—people such as Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founder and CEO of L Brands, Glenn Dubin, the billionaire cofounder of the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management, and Leon Black, the billionaire founder of Apollo Global Management, the private-equity behemoth.
While we await subpoenas and depositions—if they ever come remains to be seen—there is a road map of sorts in the form of Epstein’s so-called “little black book,” 92 pages of names, emails, and phone numbers of people Epstein knew, or wanted to know, but in any event had detailed information about. Wall Street people comprise a significant amount of the entries. “He was a kind of wholesale collector of people, including people he didn’t know,” one of the Wall Street guys in the black book tells me. “I guarantee you that 90% of the people whose names are in his book, he’s not in their book. Many of these people don’t even know him.”
What the book tells us is that Epstein knew, or aspired to know, some of the biggest names on Wall Street and in Washington. Sure there are the Trumps—Donald, Ivana, and Ivanka—and Bill Clinton’s surrogate Doug Band in the book. But once you get past their names, there is the horde of Wall Street executives. The contact book is dated for sure, replete as it is with misspellings and incorrect or superseded phone numbers, emails, and addresses. It remains something of an enigma: What was the book’s purpose? “I don’t think it means anything,” the Wall Street executive continues. “…I didn’t really know Jeffrey. He was like Boo Radley in the corner of the room. After I met him, he became Jeffrey Epstein, he had no interest in me. He knew right out of the box who the players were, the people who would stay out all night, people who had interests in extracurricular objectives, and who the hitters were. That wasn’t me.”
The Wall Street names in the book range from the highly prominent to the obscure, and, for some unknown reason, a disproportionate number of names of bankers in it worked once upon a time at Lazard, my old firm. The prominent are easy to identify, but why were their names in the book? Why would the late David Rockefeller’s name be in there? He was, of course, the textbook definition of moral rectitude before he died two years ago, at the age of 101. Also in the Epstein book are deceased financiers, such as Lord Hanson, the British industrialist; John Gutfreund, the onetime “King of Wall Street,” who presided over a major Treasury market scandal when he was the leader of Salomon Brothers; Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft; Edmond Safra, a billionaire banker who perished in a fire in his apartment in Monaco in 1999; and Al Taubman, the billionaire Detroit real-estate tycoon who was caught up in a scandal involving Sotheby’s. (Taubman’s son Bobby is also in Epstein’s book).
Then there are a passel of billionaires who are very much alive. There is the multi-billionaire philanthropist and staunch conservative David Koch; Mike Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire former mayor of New York City and erstwhile presidential candidate; and there is Eddie Lampert, the billionaire hedge fund manager now presiding over the bankruptcy of Sears. There are the Forbes brothers—Steve, a onetime presidential candidate, and Chris, known as “Kip”—whose father was Malcolm Forbes and who may have at one point been billionaires. There are also the billionaires Ron Burkle, the onetime supermarket buyout impresario (and great friend of Bill Clinton), and Edgar Bronfman Jr., the spirits scion who took the family’s fortune and went Hollywood, with mixed success.
Also among the billionaires are Conrad Black, the Canadian media tycoon turned prominent historian and convicted felon, and Nicolas Berggruen, the fabulous and fabulously itinerant art collector and the founder of the annual $1 million Berggruen Prize that is given to a “thinker” who helps to shape “human self-understanding” and to “advance humankind.” There is also Henry Kravis, the billionaire cofounder of KKR, the onetime buyout king. How did Kravis, who is usually oh so careful about such things, get into Epstein’s book? I am not the least bit surprised to see billionaire Ron Perelman’s name in the book, especially since he lives blocks from Epstein’s East 71st mansion.
But the real fun of Epstein’s tome comes in wondering about the names of the less well-known bankers, and why Epstein would be in touch with them. Jes Staley, a former senior executive at JPMorgan Chase and now the CEO of Barclays Plc, the big British bank, was, as the New York Times reported, Epstein’s conduit to JPMorgan Chase back in the day. Epstein introduced Staley to the billionaire hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin. Dubin, who did not respond to a request for comment, met Epstein through his wife, Eva Andersson, a former Miss Sweden, and of course they are both in the book. When JPMorgan Chase bought a majority stake in Dubin’s Highbridge Capital Management in 2004 (and the rest five years later), Epstein got a fee. (Staley did not respond to a request for comment.)
Bill Berkman, the wealthy investor whose secretary once sued him about being forced to look at pornographic pictures of women in emails (the suit was dismissed with prejudice in 2015), is in the Epstein book, as are the hedge fund managers Boykin Curry and Adam Dell, the brother of Michael Dell, the multi-billionaire founder of Dell Computer. There is Alan Patricof, the prominent New York venture capitalist and Clinton friend; John Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager who made a fortune betting against the mortgage market in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis; and Michael Ovitz, the onetime Hollywood super-agent and Disney executive.
A former Goldman Sachs vice chairman and director—Robert Hurst—makes an appearance in Epstein’s book, as does Tony Dub, a former senior banker at First Boston back in the day. Lew Ranieri, the billionaire creator of the Wall Street securitization market when he was at Salomon Brothers—which eventually led us down the rabbit hole of mortgage-backed securities—is in the book. And, not surprisingly given that Epstein worked there briefly, two of the former leaders of Bear Stearns—Jimmy Cayne, the former CEO, and Warren Spector, the former president of the firm—are included.
But it is the former employees of Lazard—the prominent but relatively small M&A and investment management firm—that are disproportionately showing up in the book. There is Roger Barnett, who was a former colleague of mine, and is now the CEO of Shaklee, the Japanese nutrition and green cleaning-products company. (Barnett is married to Sloan Lindemann, the daughter of the late billionaire George Lindemann, whose name is also in the book.)
There is Eva Lorenzotti, a former junior banker at Lazard and New York socialite who is now affiliated with the Rhone Group (started by two former Lazard bankers); there is Todd Meister, also a former junior banker at Lazard when I was there, whose father Robert “Bob” Meister (also in the book), a vice chairman of Aon Group, the insurance brokerage, introduced Epstein to Les Wexner, the billionaire founder of the Limited (who of course was in the book.) Robert Meister and Jeffrey Epstein were said to have had a falling out long ago but Wexner did help Todd Meister get his hedge fund off the ground with an investment of many millions of dollars. (Todd Meister was once briefly married to Nicky Hilton Rothschild, the sister of Paris Hilton.)
Wexner was also a longtime Lazard client. Former Lazard CEO William Loomis was once on the Limited’s board of directors. (Loomis’s name is not in the Epstein book.) Nina Griscom, a New York socialite and the stepdaughter of longtime Lazard honcho Felix Rohatyn, is in the book, as is Raymond McKenzie, who also worked at Lazard around the time I was there too. (“When it rains it pours,” McKenzie emailed me when I inquired why he was in the book.) And there is Jeffrey Leeds, a longtime friend, who left Lazard in the 1990s and started his own private-equity firm focused on the education sector. (Lazard did not respond to a request for comment.)
Two other entries caught my eye. One is for Tom Barrack, the founder of hedge fund Colony Capital and a longtime friend of Donald Trump. Barrack was head of Trump’s inauguration committee; he has agreed to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into Trump. But Barrack, like Ron Burkle, lives mostly in California so that complicates somewhat being in Epstein’s social circle, ameliorated for sure by private jet travel. The most bizarre entry of all is that of Anton “Tony” Valukas, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and a senior partner at the prominent Chicago law firm, Jenner & Block. Valukas’s biggest claim to fame was probably as being the acclaimed author of the 2010 nine-volume report examining the causes of the biggest bankruptcy in American history—the 2008 liquidation of Lehman Brothers. Why in the world would Epstein and Valukas want to have anything to do with each other? Valukas did not respond to an email request for comment.