The 21,000-square-foot mansion at 9 East 71st Street, the longtime home of financier Jeffrey Epstein, has emerged as the center of what prosecutors from the Southern District of New York say is a “vast network” of abuse perpetrated against young women—many under the age of 18—by the billionaire asset manager.
Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking by the SDNY, with prosecutors alleging that he abused many of his victims at the home on East 71st Street; he has pled not guilty. (Investigators seized nude photographs from the home during a search over the weekend.) Prosecutors have ordered Epstein to hand over the mansion, along with “any property, real or personal, constituting or derived from any proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of” those sex trafficking charges.
The East 71st Street property, known as the Herbert N. Straus Mansion, was built in 1933, and has previously been named as one of the city’s most valuable mansions. It was designed by society architect Horace Trumbauer for Herbert N. Straus, one of the heirs to the Macy’s department store fortune, who died before it was completed. In 1961, the mansion became home to the Birch Wathen School, which it remained until Leslie H. Wexner, the founding chairman of the Limited Inc., bought it in 1989 for $13.2 million. Wexner hired architect Thierry Despont and interior designer John Stefanidis to help gut the 40-room home.
In 1995, Wexner transferred the home to Epstein (no record of a sale exists in city property records), who was his protege and financial advisor. Epstein carried out his own renovation, and has held onto the home to this day. According to the New York Times, the property has been valued at approximately $56 million by the city’s Department of Finance, although prosecutors stated it was valued at $77 million. The property taxes are more than $347,000.
Epstein manages a hedge fund based in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has a home base in Palm Beach, Florida. As part of a 2008 plea deal, Epstein “pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and was required to register as a sex offender” in Miami, New York City, and the Virgin Islands—though not in New Mexico, where he also owns a ranch. As per Vox, Epstein served just 13 months “in the private wing of a Palm Beach County jail” and was “granted work release to go to a ‘comfortable office’ for 12 hours a day, six days a week.” Recent reporting by the Miami Herald uncovered further allegations against Epstein in the years after that plea deal.