Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein

As Bill Gates’ name has come up in connection with Jeffrey Epstein’s over the past few months, the Microsoft founder has denied a close relationship with the late convicted sex offender. “I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him,” Gates told The Wall Street Journal last month.

But an investigation by the New York Times reveals a closer relationship between the two men. Starting in 2011, Gates met with Epstein several times, including three times at Epstein’s townhouse in New York. As the Times puts it:

“Mr. Gates and the $51 billion [Bill & Melinda] Gates Foundation have championed the well-being of young girls. By the time Mr. Gates and Mr. Epstein first met, Mr. Epstein had served jail time for soliciting prostitution from a minor and was required to register as a sex offender.”

The meetings between the pair centered around philanthropy. At one point Epstein proposed creating a new charitable fund involving the Gates Foundation and JPMorgan (Epstein hoped to get a fee for securing donations to the effort). The men connected in part through Gates Foundation employee Melanie Walker, who had met Epstein when she was just out of college.

The Times investigation goes into further detail about the relationship and is worth the read. Gates’ spokeswoman says that the billionaire “regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgment to do so.” She adds that “entertaining Epstein’s ideas related to philanthropy gave Epstein an undeserved platform that was at odds with Gates’ personal values and the values of his foundation.”

Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest people on the planet—and has devoted much of that wealth to bettering the world, including improving the lives of women and girls. The fact that he was willing to overlook Epstein’s criminal role in hurting girls doesn’t erase the good Gates has done—but nor does that good excuse his blindness.

Epstein’s story, and the many powerful people whose names have become entangled in it, suggests that a sort of bubble exists around the world of wealth and privilege, where it seems impossible to imagine that anyone inside that shiny barrier could really have done anything all that bad. But now we’re seeing what happens when the bubble pops—and it’s not a pretty sight.

Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates had a much closer relationship with late financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein than Gates has previously stated, the New York Times reported on Saturday, including multiple visits to Epstein’s now-infamous New York townhouse.

Gates had previously admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that he had met with Epstein to gain access to the latter’s circle of wealthy friends for philanthopic reasons. However, he denied any “business relationship or friendship” with Epstein, who died by suicide while in jail awaiting trial on federal charges of sex trafficking minors. Gates also denied he was ever “at any parties or anything like that” with Epstein, with a spokesperson also saying that Epstein never “directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates.”

Now, per the Times, sources and documents say that Gates met with Epstein on “numerous occasions—including at least three times at Mr. Epstein’s palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night.” The Times also reported that Gates’ employees went on “multiple visits” to Epstein’s property and that Epstein pitched Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase on a “multibillion-dollar charitable fund,” which could have resulted in Epstein picking up “enormous fees” in the tens of millions.

The first meeting was on Jan. 31, 2011, when Gates met with Epstein, former Miss Sweden Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin (spouse of billionaire hedge funder Glenn Dubin), and the Dubins’ 15-year-old daughter. At the time, Epstein’s reputation was a convicted sex offender was well known. That gathering started at 8:00 p.m. and lasted hours, with the Times reporting that Gates wrote to colleagues the next day, “A very attractive Swedish woman and her daughter dropped by and I ended up staying there quite late.” That year, Gates was also seen talking privately with Epstein at a TED conference in California and visited Epstein again at his New York mansion with others, including then-senior JPMorgan exec James E. Stanley and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Around that time, sources told the paper, Epstein was pitching both the Gates Foundation and JPMorgan on beginning a charitable fund to operate in tandem with the two institutions’ Global Health Investment Fund. In late 2011, Gates’ employees met with Epstein at Gates’ instruction, with sources telling the paper he said his shady 2007 plea deal and conviction was no worse than “stealing a bagel.”

At one point in 2011, Gates wrote in an email that Epstein’s “lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me,” the Times wrote.

In March 2013, Gates flew on Epstein’s jet from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, and six months later met Epstein in New York for dinner and a discussion on philanthropy. Finally, in October 2014, Gates donated $2 million to the MIT Media Lab, whose director Joichi Ito resigned this year after his extensive financial ties to Epstein became public news. The New Yorker reported that Media Lab staff recorded the donation as directed by Epstein, but kept Epstein’s name anonymous, writing in records that “Gates is making this gift at the recommendation of a friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous.”

Epstein’s proposed charitable fund never became reality, and Gates seemed to have stopped engaging with him after 2014, though former foundation employees told the Times that “at least two senior Gates Foundation officials” remained in contact with the financier until 2017.

Note that one of the Gates Foundation’s biggest missions is gender equality and empowering women and girls. Earlier this month, Melinda Gates announced that she was committing $1 billion over the next 10 years towards “expanding women’s power and influence in the United States.” Meanwhile, numerous reports on Epstein have emphasized that his jet set social circle (ranging from fellow rich folks to high-profile scientists) helped provide cover for his serial sexual abuses.

According to the Times, a spokesperson for Gates said “Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgment to do so. Gates recognizes that entertaining Epstein’s ideas related to philanthropy gave Epstein an undeserved platform that was at odds with Gates’s personal values and the values of his foundation… Over time, Gates and his team realized Epstein’s capabilities and ideas were not legitimate and all contact with Epstein was discontinued.”

The spokesperson also said the email Gates wrote was, of course, only “referring only to the unique décor of the Epstein residence.”

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