A new investigation by the New York Times reveals that billionaire investor and collector Leon Black paid Jeffrey Epstein at least $50 million after he was convicted as a sex offender in 2008. Epstein faced federal sex trafficking charges before his death in 2019, which was ruled a suicide.
Black serves as chairman of the board at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has been featured on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list with his wife Debra every year since 1997. In August, it was reported that Black was being subpoenaed by the U.S. Virgin Islands in connection with the ongoing Epstein case.
An internal report by Deutsche Bank reviewed by the Times shows that a company called BV70 LLC, which reportedly owned Black’s yacht, made large payments to an enterprise called Plan D that managed Epstein’s jet and his foundation Gratitude America. The Times also reports that, in 2014, Black’s company Narrows Holdings, which the collector has used to purchase artworks, gave millions of dollars to Epstein.
According to the Times report, it is not clear what services Epstein provided to Black, who said in a statement to the employees at his private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2019 that the company “has never done any business with Mr. Epstein at any point in time” and that he was “completely unaware of, and am deeply troubled by, the conduct that is now the subject of the federal criminal charges brought against Mr. Epstein.”[Read about Jeffrey Epstein’s connections in the art world.]
A spokesperson for Black said in a statement to ARTnews that Black “received personal trusts and estates planning advice as well as family office philanthropy and investment services from several financial and legal advisors, including Mr. Epstein, during a six-year period, between 2012 and 2017. The trusts and estate planning advice was vetted by leading auditors and law firms. Mr. Black terminated Mr. Epstein’s services in 2018 as a result of a fee dispute and ceased communications with him after that.”
The spokesperson said that Black intends to “cooperate fully” with the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general’s investigation of Epstein. Furthermore, “Apollo never did any business with Mr. Epstein,” the spokesperson said, and Black “was completely unaware of, and continues to be appalled by, the reprehensible conduct that surfaced at the end of 2018 and led to the federal criminal charges brought against Mr. Epstein and deeply regrets having had any involvement with him.”