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Leon Black From the Ashes, Part II

leon black
Ganieva had kept silent for six years—until the fateful tweets—and during that time Leon paid her a total of $9.2 million. Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo
William D. Cohan
April 10, 2024

Last week, in the first installment of this series, Leon Black explained for the first time his long association with Jeffrey Epstein, the infamous sexual predator who died in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019. Our conversation, which occurred at his family office on Park Avenue, Elysium, where Epstein provided tax and estate planning services to Leon, featured a number of stunning admissions. When I asked Leon what he was thinking when this guy he had known for a decade—who was once on the board of his family foundation, and with whom he had discussed the nuances of his children—was suddenly being investigated for pedophilia, and ended up in jail, he told me: “I took it seriously. But I didn’t take it that seriously.”

Black continued: “I mean, he was with a 17-year-old prostitute, got prosecuted for it, and got put away for a year,” he said, referring to Epstein’s extraordinarily controversial plea deal in 2008. “And, you know, according to him, even that person had shown an I.D. that she wasn’t underage. My feeling is, there are serious things and there are things that are less serious. I didn’t think this was the end of the world, frankly.”