Epstein’s ‘madam’ hiding out in Paris
Fugitive socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been hiding out in a sprawling Paris apartment close to Jeffrey Epstein's £7 million (AU$12.65m) paedo pad, it has been revealed.
Maxwell, one of the world's most wanted women, fled to France, where she was born, to avoid questioning in the US by the FBI over her links to the late disgraced billionaire.
The 58-year-old, who vanished from public life in 2016, moved into her secret bolthole on Avenue Matignon, in Paris's exclusive 8th Arrondissement, to remain undetected, The Sun has reported.
The luxurious property is linked to a millionaire business contact based in Normandy who offered to let her use it while the global hunt for her continued.
And it is only a five-minute drive along the Champs-Elysees to Epstein's vast apartment on Avenue Foch, which was raided by French cops last September.
Maxwell, who is a long-term friend of the Duke of York, was spotted on Avenue Matignon in the days before France announced its COVID-19 lockdown in March.
She remained in Paris during the virus crisis and hopes to benefit from her status as a French citizen to avoid extradition, should she face any criminal charges in the US.
A source said: "Ghislaine is moving locations every month to keep private investigators off her tail and is staying at the residences of trusted colleagues and contacts.
'DIDN'T WANT TO BE RECOGNISED'
"She wants to remain in France for as long as she can to take advantage of extradition laws and has a huge network of contacts willing to keep her hidden.
"Under French law anyone born on French soil is safe from extradition to another country, regardless of the alleged crime.
"It doesn't mean she won't be prosecuted for her links to Epstein but if she does end up facing charges it will be in France and not the US."
Maxwell, who is accused of procuring underage girls for Epstein, emerged from her bolthole on a number of occasions, each time with a scarf wrapped tightly around her face to conceal her identity.
She strolled past sprawling Avenue Matignon's up-market art galleries and top-end restaurants and cafes, which include posh Market, Le Berkeley and Le Bristol.
One local said: "She was here just before France announced its coronavirus lockdown.
"She rarely went out, but when she did she wore a large patterned blanket which she pulled tightly around her face and draped across her shoulders.
"She clearly didn't want to be recognised and was able to blend in.
"But she was wearing her distinctive gold sovereign ring on her left hand and a larger, glitzier ring on her right."
Others claim to have seen her walking away from the Israeli Embassy, a fortified glass building guarded 24 hours a day by armed gendarmes at checkpoints at either end of the street, with undercover Mossad agents patrolling regularly.
Maxwell's closeness to the embassy is likely to fuel conspiracy theories about who is protecting her.
It has been claimed she was a foreign intelligence asset working for Israel, where her late father, the disgraced media mogul Robert Maxwell, is buried.
She spent time on a kibbutz there after leaving school, has a good network of contacts and is rumoured to have been offered safe haven there.
Her exact whereabouts remain a mystery but she is said to be determined to stay in Paris.
She first vanished when prosecutors began re-examining hundreds of criminal complaints against her former boyfriend Epstein in the autumn of 2016.
The Sun has offered a £10,000 ($A18,000) reward to anyone who can provide information which directly results with successfully making contact with her in person.
The last public sighting was said to have been last August, when she was apparently photographed at Los Angeles fast food joint In-N-Out Burger, reading a book about CIA spies.
But the pictures - taken just days after Epstein committed suicide in jail - were later exposed as Photoshopped fakes.
Their metadata, or embedded digital information, was said to bear the word Meadowgate, which is also the name of a company whose president, Leah Saffian, is a close friend of Maxwell's.
The search then switched to America's East Coast, with a reported sighting of her in affluent Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
It was said she had been living with her then lover, Scott Borgerson, at his secluded £2.2 million ($A3.97 million) seafront home, situated on a private road.
According to neighbours, Maxwell went by the initial G rather than her distinctive first name, and would take her dog for walks along the beach.
Mr Borgerson later insisted Maxwell was not at his home, describing her as a "former friend".
The trail also went cold in the south of France where her sister Christine owned a sprawling mansion in the pretty Provence town of Meyreuil.
The property was sold two years ago and the new owners - and neighbours - have not seen the Maxwell sisters since.
Not even Maxwell's own lawyers know her exact location.
She communicates with them only via email.
Lawyers for Epstein's victims hired private investigators to try to find her and have issued writs at a number of addresses worldwide, without success.
The FBI also wants to quiz Maxwell over her links to Epstein, whose crimes have been detailed in Netflix documentary Filthy Rich.
It is claimed she also introduced Prince Andrew to US "sex slave" Virginia Roberts, now known as Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre has accused Maxwell of recruiting her to work as Epstein's masseuse when she was 15.
She claims Maxwell directed her to give erotic massages and engage in sexual activities with Prince Andrew and others, and says she had sex with the royal "three times, including one orgy".
The first encounter allegedly took place in Maxwell's London home when Virginia was 17.
In April, Epstein accuser Maria Farmer, now 50, filed a sworn affidavit alleging she and her 15-year-old sister were sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell in 1996.
She claimed Maxwell acted as a "madam", driving around New York plucking young women off the streets, supposedly to become models, only to take them to be abused by Epstein and his pals.
The FBI raided Epstein's £60 million ($A108 million) New York mansion and arrested him on July 6 last year, then on August 10 he was found hanged in his cell in an apparent suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Epstein's Paris pad was raided just days later and the city's chief prosecutor announced he was opening a probe after US investigators identified links to France.
The offices of modelling agency Karin Models, which is owned by Epstein's former pal Jean-Luc Brunel and is near Maxwell's latest hideaway, were also searched.
Then in November Prince Andrew stepped down as a senior royal after a disastrous Newsnight interview which questioned his relationship with Epstein.
The Prince had hoped it would clear the air but the exchanges with BBC presenter Emily Maitlis were later described as a "car crash".
During the interview, Andrew said he would help the US investigation if his "legal advice was to do so".
But in January, Geoffrey Berman, the US lawyer leading the Epstein inquiry, said the Duke had "provided zero co-operation".
The Prince could now be forced to appear in a British court to answer New York prosecutors' questions about his billionaire paedophile pal after the US Department of Justice invoked the terms of a legal treaty with Britain in an attempt to question the royal as a witness.
The DoJ made its formal request to the Home Office - bypassing Buckingham Palace - but Andrew, 60, has so far refused to talk to prosecutors investigating Epstein's historic sex trafficking network.
The Prince has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as Epstein's 'madam' hiding out in Paris