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Long before Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida more than a decade ago, his fellow Palm Beach resident and hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass was intrigued by the local gossip about his neighbor. There appears little chance the public is going to get definitive answers anytime soon. His brother, Mark, and a friend even offered to chip in if necessary. Naturally, this air of mystery has especially piqued the interest of real-life, non-pretend hedge-funders.
Intelligencer spoke to several prominent hedge-fund managers to get a read on what their practiced eyes are detecting in all the new information that is coming to light about Epstein in the wake of his indictment by federal prosecutors in New York. Most saw signs of something unsavory at the heart of his business model. To begin with, there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager.
Epstein was also missing another key element of a typical thriving hedge fund: investors. Within no time, Kass notes, Epstein was made a partner of the firm — and then was promptly and unceremoniously ousted. Epstein reportedly left the firm following a minor securities violation. Along the way, he began peddling the improbable narrative that he was so selective he would only work with billionaires. Though it now appears that Epstein had many fewer employees than he claimed, according to the New York Times :.
Thomas Volscho, a sociology professor at the College of Staten Island who has been researching for a book on Mr. In a court filing that year, Mr.
Epstein said his firm had about 20 employees, far fewer than the reported at the time by New York magazine. Given this puzzling set of data points, the hedge-fund managers we spoke to leaned toward the theory that Epstein was running a blackmail scheme under the cover of a hedge fund.