Two privately-owned islands belonging to Jeffrey Epstein, the tainted American financier and registered sexual offender, were sold to a billionaire investor Thursday. The two islands, Great St.James and Little St. James were abandoned after Epstein committed suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Stephen Deckoff, the founder of private equity firm Black Diamond Capital Management, bought the islands for $60 million, Forbes reported Wednesday. Deckoff paid approximately 50 per cent less for the two private islands than the price that was listed last year by Epstein’s estate.
According to a press release by Deckoff, he is planning to “develop a state-of-the-art, five-star, world-class luxury 25-room resort” on the islands that will become operational in 2025.
“I’ve been proud to call the US Virgin Islands home for more than a decade and am tremendously pleased to be able to bring the area a world-class destination befitting its natural grace and beauty,” Deckoff said in the release.
“There is simply no place in the world as special as the US Virgin Islands and I am humbled by the opportunity to share its splendour with visitors in a manner that will provide economic benefits to the region while respecting its culture, history and natural beauty.”
In a conversation with Forbes, Deckoff revealed that he had never met Epstein and had never been to the islands before they went on the market. In March last year, the islands were listed for a combined price of $125 million.
Deckoff has ties with the US Virgin Islands and is aware of the unsavoury past of these islands. It was reported that Epstein used to use these islands to sexually abuse teenage girls. One island was even sometimes dubbed as the ‘Paedophile Island’.
The 72-acre Little St. James Island was repurchased by Epstein in 1998 for $7.95 million, which has a villa-style compound, a library, a cinema hall, a detached bath house and cabanas. He later bought the 160-acre Great St. James Island for $20 million in 2016.
In the allegation against Epstein, it was said that he used to bring girls as young as 11 to the islands with his associates and used to sexually assault them.
Jeffrey Epstein’s case
Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell, where he was held while awaiting his trial for sex trafficking. The FBI raided Little St. James, where Epstein was believed to have his primary residence.
Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was later found guilty of aiding his beau in the sex trafficking of young girls and was sentenced to prison for 20 years.
(With inputs from agencies)
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