Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who was found dead of an apparent suicide Saturday morning, left behind an estate worth an estimated $559 million, Yahoo Finance reports.
Though the media has consistently referred to Epstein as a “billionaire” as a form of shorthand, it turns out that his net worth, though considerable, was far short of a billion. This estimate comes from a court document released in early July.
The document details the multi-millionaire’s purported assets, which include an estimated $56 million in cash, $112 million in equities, and $194 million in hedge funds and private equities. A significant portion of his wealth was in the form of properties, which included a $56 million home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side described by Yahoo Finance as “palatial”; properties in New Mexico and Palm Beach, Florida as well as Paris, France; and two properties in the United States Virgin Islands, including one whole island, Little St. James Island. Not listed in the court document was Epstein’s purported private jet.
How Epstein got his wealth is shrouded in mystery. He was born into a working-class family in Brooklyn, his mother a homemaker and his father a groundskeeper and gardener with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, as The Daily Beast reports.
After high school, Epstein dropped out of college twice. Then, he got a job teaching at a prestigious Manhattan prep school. There, he met Bear Stearns executive Alan Greenberg, who helped Epstein get his start in the banking and finance industry, according to The Miami Herald.
Under the tutelage of Greenberg, whom the Miami newspaper describes as having a fondness for “PSDs” — poor, smart, and desperate to be rich — Epstein worked his way up through the ranks of Wall Street. Personable and with a penchant for “schmoozing,” his job connected him to some of the wealthiest power brokers in New York.
His career in banking and finance was riddled with purported improprieties. In 1981, for example, he was asked to leave Bear Stearns for reported policy violations, according to Vanity Fair. For a period of time in the 1980s, he was tied to a Saudi Arabian businessman with connections to the Iran-Contra Affair, according to New York magazine.
By the late 1980s, Epstein had formed his own financial management firm, J. Epstein & Company, which purportedly only managed the assets of individuals with a net worth of $1 billion or more. However, according to Yahoo Finance, several of the top names in the New York finance industry told the website they never met Epstein. He never spoke at hedge-fund industry events, and there are no regulatory filings, such as 13F’s, associated with his purported hedge-fund firm.