A Lithuanian ballet company. A shadowy French agency. An Italian sexual counseling group. Epstein lavished tens of thousands on these mysterious businesses.
In the year before his arrest for trafficking minors, Jeffrey Epstein used his shadowy foundation to lavish $891,440 across a dozen nonprofits—including one group in France that was created shortly before Epstein’s contribution.
Epstein’s Gratitude America Ltd. donated tens of thousands throughout 2018 to the obscure group in Paris, along with a Lithuanian ballet company, and an Italian psychology group that offers psychotherapy and sexual counseling.
The French group, whose name translates to “Association for the Promotion of National Cultural Policy Conducted in the 80s and 90s of the Twentieth Century,” launched in July 2018 with $57,897 from Epstein, public records reveal. The organization lists an address in the 14th arrondissement, in a building mostly occupied by doctors’ offices. But the Association wasn’t listed among the building’s buzzers and mailboxes, and it doesn’t appear to have any online presence or known ownership.
Several of Epstein’s victims claimed the financier abused them in Paris, according to lawsuits filed against his estate. One survivor, Teala Davies, said Epstein flew her from Madrid to Paris, where he crept into her room and raped her in 2003. Another woman, identified as Mary Doe, claimed Epstein invited her to his Parisian home and “arranged for her to attend a concert accompanied by a world-famous supermodel.”
Virginia Giuffre, who says Epstein kept her as his sex slave, claimed Epstein and his alleged accomplice, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, abused her in France, too. (Maxwell, who is awaiting trial in a federal prison on charges related to Epstein’s teen sex trafficking ring, denies Giuffre’s accusations.)
Giuffre has also accused Maxwell of ordering her to have sex with the owner of a large hotel chain during one trip to France, according to a cache of recently unsealed court records. The encounter occurred around the time of Naomi Campbell’s birthday party, Giuffre claimed.
In a deposition, Giuffre said she had sexual contact with Maxwell in a fancy hotel overlooking the Champs-Elysées, and that Maxwell “brought in a redheaded French girl” after approaching her in Paris. Maxwell was allegedly trying to teach Giuffre to recruit victims.
“She walked up to this French girl to show me how easy it was for her to procure girls,” Giuffre testified. “I wasn’t very good at it. And, you know, it was part of my training… to bring in other girls. So she walked up to her. Within five minutes she had her number and that girl came over later that night to the hotel and serviced Jeffrey.”
Epstein’s Paris apartment didn’t just house victims; he invited former friends, including disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, to visit. While in Paris, Weinstein reportedly tried to assault one woman in Epstein’s circle who was giving the film mogul a nonsexual massage.
Last September, French police asked for victims and witnesses to come forward for their own investigation into Epstein’s alleged abuse. Cops also raided Epstein’s Paris apartment and the offices of Karin Models, the agency of Epstein’s friend and his accused procurer of underage girls, Jean-Luc Brunel. According to Giuffre, Brunel once bought three French girls from their parents as a gift to Epstein. Brunel has denied Giuffre’s claims and any involvement with Epstein’s trafficking ring.
Maritza Vasquez, a former bookkeeper for Brunel’s MC2 agency, claimed in a 2010 deposition that Epstein and Brunel were trying to start a new company with a woman in Paris but the venture never materialized. Epstein provided instructions to Brunel “saying that he wanted to have the same contracts as… Donald Trump,” Vasquez added, referring to Trump’s shuttered modeling agency, “and that he wanted to have the same kind of benefits for the scouters.”
Meanwhile, Gratitude America bankrolled “Associazione MinD,” a psychology organization in Rome for two years in a row, with a $25,000 donation in 2018 and $60,000 in 2017. Associazione MinD did not return messages left by The Daily Beast.
Epstein provided instructions to Brunel ‘saying that he wanted to have the same contracts as … Donald Trump … and that he wanted to have the same kind of benefits for the scouters.’
According to its website, the group “was born in 2015 from the idea of 3 young psychologists to promote knowledge of the psychological world, through clinical and training activities, using different artistic and creative forms.”
Gratitude America’s money appears to have come exclusively from a $10-million donation in 2015 from investor Leon Black, whom the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands recently subpoenaed over his relationship with Epstein.
The charity, created in 2012, didn’t list expenditures until four years later. By then, Epstein’s accountant Richard Kahn had replaced Epstein as president of the group. The financier’s longtime personal attorney, Darren Indyke, was vice president, while U.S. Virgin Islands tax attorney Erika Kellerhals was secretary and treasurer. (Indyke and Kahn are the co-executors of Epstein’s more than $600-million estate.)
Gratitude America donated to several nonprofits linked to people in Epstein’s orbit—including the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland, where Next modeling agency honco Faith Kates’ son worked. JTCC received $10,000 from Gratitude America in 2018 and $25,000 the year prior. Last year, Kates would only provide a vague comment on the JTCC donation, saying “My son volunteered in high school and I believe they gave back the donation.”
Harvard’s Hasty Pudding theater troupe received $50,000 from Epstein in 2018, and another $50,000 in 2016. As we previously reported, Celina Dubin—the daughter of Epstein’s former girlfriend Eva Dubin and her husband Glenn, who was accused of sexual misconduct by Giuffre—was a member of the Hasty Pudding Institute. (The Dubins have denied Giuffre’s claims.)
The son of Epstein’s accountant George V. Delson, who prepared tax returns for the hedge-funder’s defunct C.O.U.Q. Foundation, solicited a $25,000 donation for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Lawrence Delson, a professor at NYU and the Fashion Institute of Technology, serves on the theater’s board of trustees.
Bonnie Monte, the theater’s artistic director, said her organization knew nothing about the anonymous donor. “Lawrence did solicit the donation which we did not know anything about,” Monte told The Daily Beast. “We did try to do some research to find out where it came from. We never knew who the anonymous donor was until over a year later, after Jeffrey Epstein’s death.” Monte said she looked online but could only find an unrelated Florida-based veterans charity called Gratitude America.
Delson, who didn’t return messages, told Monte “in the interest of transparency, in case anybody asks,” that the $25,000 came from one of Epstein’s foundations. “I said who is Jeffrey Epstein?” Monte recalled replying, adding that she was “horrified” to learn who Epstein was and figured it was good his money was going to charity.
She walked up to this French girl to show me how easy it was for her to procure girls.
The latest tax filings for Epstein’s charity also reveal a $500,000 donation to the Kuhn Foundation, which received $150,000 from Epstein in 2017.
CNBC previously revealed Epstein agreed to provide $1.4 million in funding for a PBS science show created by Robert Kuhn called “Closer to Truth.” That show never got off the ground due to a lack of funding following Epstein’s suicide.
Kuhn told CNBC he met Epstein multiple times in New York and that a group of scientists, which he declined to name, introduced them. Kuhn claimed he didn’t know about the sexual abuse accusations against Epstein which he described as “totally reprehensible.” He added, “It is an example of the corruption of power distorts your own reality and then exercises this power over people who are psychologically defenseless.”
Epstein funded a slew of other organizations he’s backed over the years, including a $25,000 donation to the New School; $10,000 to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation; and $35,000 to the Edge Foundation, a society of science and tech intellectuals which hosted the exclusive “Billionaires’ Dinners” Epstein attended.
Humanity Plus, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit which says it’s “dedicated to elevating the human condition” through technology, received $100,000 from Epstein in 2018. (The group previously operated as the World Transhumanist Association, which received $20,000 from another Epstein group in 2011.)
In a statement on its website, Humanity Plus said Gratitude America did not include Epstein’s name on the donation. “This donation of $100,000 was put to a good cause as evidenced in Humanity+ tax Schedule B, Part 1 that states the donation was granted to educational research and development of Artificial Intelligence, the ethical use of AI, and increasing awareness of how AI can benefit humanity,” the group said.
“This AI research is diametrically opposed to the exploitative and abusive behaviors of Mr. Epstein that were recently revealed in the news. At the time we accepted this donation from Gratitude America, Ltd., Humanity+ had no knowledge of Mr. Epstein’s horrific alleged criminal activity, and we strongly condemn it.”
In 2018, Gratitude America also donated $25,000 to the Cancer Research Wellness Institute (CRWI), a California nonprofit founded by the late Howard Straus, who was the son of alternative cancer therapy doctor Max Gerson. Epstein’s charity shelled out $75,000 to CRWI the year before.
Before he died in June 2019, Straus told The Daily Beast in an email that he’d never heard of Gratitude America or Epstein, and that he personally thanks donors no matter the size of their contributions. “A donation of that size would be the single largest donation we’ve ever seen, and believe me, we’d notice!” Straus wrote.
“I am president of CRWI, and can assure you we have NEVER received a donation of that magnitude from ANYONE. I would know,” Straus said.
“We are perennially short of funds, and would love to be the recipient of such largesse, but not from sexual predators,” Straus added, before apparently referring to President Trump, “like the Orange Shitgibbon or his imitators.’
— with additional reporting by Erin Zaleski and Barbie Latza Nadeau