By Alexandra Ma | Business Insider
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- Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and accused “madam” of Jeffrey Epstein, is one of the most sought-after women in the world but is nowhere to be found.
- A trove of court documents contain allegations that she recruited girls for Epstein, the disgraced financier who died last week awaiting sex-trafficking charges.
- Business Insider visited a quiet, residential street in Belgravia, central London — one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the world — where Maxwell owns a house and used to host parties.
- One person said she hadn’t seen Maxwell in 10 years, while other residents and businesses either said they didn’t know Maxwell lived or owned property there.
- One woman seen entering the property on Wednesday afternoon claimed not to know anything about Maxwell.
- That had been the first sighting of any movement in the property in two weeks.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
LONDON — Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and accused “madam” of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, is nowhere to be found. The New York Post published photos of her reading at an In-N-Out Burger branch in Los Angeles last week, but numerous discrepancies suggest that they might have been staged.
Business Insider on Wednesday visited a street in Belgravia, an upscale district in London favoured by the superrich, where Maxwell owns a mews house and used to host parties. As a British socialite in the 1990s she often mingled with powerful figures in the UK and US, using.
The property, with a distinctive red door, appears to have been used recently, albeit not often. Business Insider noticed fresh flowers in the windowsills and no cobwebs on the door frames.
Alexandra Ma/Business Insider
Most of the street’s residents or businesses told Business Insider they either didn’t know of her, didn’t know where she is, or that they hadn’t seen her in years. Some also declined to comment.
One woman on the street, who declined to be named, said she hadn’t seen Maxwell in more than 10 years.
Alexandra Ma/Business Insider
Another neighbour, with clear view of Maxwell’s property, who declined to identify himself, said he had noticed people in the house during the few months he had lived on the street, but noted that they weren’t Maxwell.
Business Insider spotted one woman, who had long hair and appeared to be in her 60s, entering the property on Wednesday afternoon.
That was the first sighting of any movement in and around Maxwell’s house in about two weeks, the neighbor told Business Insider, adding that he didn’t recognize the woman.
The woman in Maxwell’s house denied that the socialite owns or lived in the house, claiming instead that the elusive socialite lived elsewhere down the street.
She also denied that she lives in or owns the house, and declined to speak to Business Insider any further.
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The current ownership of the house is murky, with many neighbours speculating that Maxwell had either sold the property or rented it out.
But according to UK property website Zoopla, the house was last sold in January 1997 — suggesting that Maxwell still owns the place. News outlets including The Daily Beast, Bloomberg, and The Telegraph all reported that the house still belonged to Maxwell, but that it has not been occupied.
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A photo of Maxwell, Prince Andrew, and Virginia Roberts Giuffre — who accuses Epstein of recruiting her as a sex slave as a 17-year-old, and said the financier forced her to have sex with Andrew multiple times — is believed to have been taken in that house.
(Buckingham Palace has repeatedly denied claims, made in legal documents linked to Epstein, that Andrew had sexual relations with any underage girls.)
One neighbour, who declined to be named, told Business Insider that the photo was “99%” taken in the London house, citing the white bannister in the photo that’s also visible to anyone looking through the townhouse’s window.
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The residential street, located minutes away from the busy Knightsbridge district and Hyde Park, and valued for its convenience to major roads and shops as well as its relative tranquility.
The street is just a few minutes away from the Harvey Nichols department store and five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel.
High-profile figures in British society such as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “Doctor Who” actress Billie Piper, and Hans Kristian Rausing — the Swedish billionaire accused (and later acquitted) of killing his wife in 2012 — all lived nearby, a longtime employee at a local hardware store told Business Insider.
While most of the properties on the street are residential townhouses, Business Insider also spotted two pubs, two estate agencies, one Michelin-starred restaurant, and a cafe on the street alone.
Houses on Maxwell’s street sell from at least £2.5 million ($3 million), an employee at a nearby estate agent told Business insider.
“It’s like a community here,” the estate agent and a woman at a nearby art gallery told Business Insider in separate conversations on Wednesday, referring to the abundance of restaurants, bars, and shops in the vicinity.
Alexandra Ma/Business Insider
Most of the businesses in the area have changed hands, but at least four businesses — a newsagents, a pub, a hardware store, and a wine bar — had been there for at least two decades, suggesting they might have crossed paths with Maxwell.
An employee at the pub across the street from Maxwell’s house refused to answer any of Business Insider’s questions, and said repeatedly that the business had nothing to do with Maxwell.
Employees at the other longstanding businesses said they didn’t know Maxwell owned property or lived on the street, and that they had either never seen her or noticed her in the past.
Despite its characterization as a “community,” residents don’t appear to mingle much.
“It’s not really the kind of street where everyone talks to each other,” one unnamed resident told The Daily Beast last week. “It’s actually been quite nice having all you lot [journalists] around because there’s been someone to talk to.”
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Nonetheless, the area has come under intense observation over the past few weeks as international attention on the Epstein accusations focused on Maxwell. Two people on the street told Business Insider on Wednesday that many reporters had visited the street over the past two weeks.
Some 2,000 pages of court documents containing allegations against Epstein and Maxwell were unsealed earlier this month. Epstein died by suicide one day later, and legal experts say Maxwell may have taken his place as the “kingpin” that prosecutors want to take down.
Authorities have not brought any charges against Maxwell thus far, with former federal prosecutors telling Business Insider’s Michelle Mark that they likely won’t do so until they have an airtight case.
Read more: After Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, Ghislaine Maxwell may have taken his place as the ‘kingpin’ prosecutors are looking to take down. But experts say don’t expect criminal charges anytime soon.
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Britain’s Daily Telegraph on Monday published images of Maxwell’s sister, Christine, packing up bags near the Massachusetts beachfront mansion owned by tech CEO Scott Borgerson, where Ghislaine was reported to be staying.
Locals in Manchester-By-the-Sea, the Massachusetts beachfront, said Ghislaine Maxwell often took walks on the beach but largely kept a low profile, the Telegraph reported.
Borgerson, however, denied in a conversation with Business Insider’s Paige Leskin that his “former friend” Maxwell had been staying there and said he doesn’t know where she is now.