According to those acquainted with the situation, Jeffrey Epstein allegedly threatened one of the richest men in the world after learning that Bill Gates had an affair with a Russian bridge player.
When she was in her 20s, the co-founder of Microsoft first met the woman in 2010. Following their 2013 encounter, Epstein paid for her to enroll in a software coding program. According to those with knowledge of the situation, Epstein sent Gates an email in 2017 requesting payment for the cost of the course.
After struggling and failing to get Gates to take part in a multibillion-dollar charitable fund that Epstein intended to establish with JPMorgan Chase, the convicted sex offender sent the email. People who have seen the communication said that it implied that Epstein could disclose the affair if Gates didn’t maintain a connection between the two men.
“Mr. Gates met with Epstein solely for philanthropic purposes. Having failed repeatedly to draw Mr. Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates,” said a spokeswoman for Gates.
Epstein was charged in 2008 with soliciting and obtaining a juvenile for prostitution after being accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14 in 2006. He registered as a sex offender and served time in a Florida jail. He was detained in 2019 on suspicion of trafficking in sex after the Miami Herald published stories about dozens more women who claimed they had been abused. Later that year, while awaiting trial, he passed away in jail from what the medical examiner determined to be suicide.
The 67-year-old Gates, a technological consultant to Microsoft and one of its biggest shareholders, has claimed that he only ever met Epstein a few times to discuss philanthropy, a mistake he now regrets.
The Russian bridge player, Mila Antonova, declined to comment on Gates and claimed she was unfamiliar with Epstein at the time they first met. “I had no idea that he was a criminal or had any ulterior motive,” she said of Epstein. “I just thought he was a successful businessman and wanted to help.” She added: “I am disgusted with Epstein and what he did.”
More details about Epstein and Gates adds to the complexity of their relationship and sheds additional light on Epstein’s methods. Between his 2008 conviction and eventual death, Epstein spent a lot of time meeting with businesspeople, academics, politicians, and celebrities. He did people a favor and tried to take advantage of his connections. He may also turn against others if the relationships deteriorated.
One of the most well-known names in Epstein’s calendar was Gates, who has a net worth of more than $100 billion and is one of the world’s largest benefactors.
According to records, Epstein and Gates booked more than a half-dozen meetings beginning in 2011, including dinners at Epstein’s apartment in New York. According to flight records, Gates traveled on Epstein’s private aircraft in March 2013 from New Jersey to Florida. The two guys met in France during the same month with a member of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. They spent a significant portion of the day in New York City in September 2014 meeting other billionaires, according to the Journal.
According to Gates, his parents taught him how to play bridge, and the card game quickly became one of his favorite pastimes. Gates participated in a game with Antonova, another game enthusiast. Her LinkedIn page states that she studied in Russia between 2000 and 2005. Before taking on multiple positions as a software developer in the Bay Area, she later created a bridge club in the United States, according to her LinkedIn profile.
In a video that was published online in 2010, Antonova discussed playing against Gates and meeting him at a bridge competition. “I didn’t beat him but I tried to kick him with my leg,” she said in the video.
Antonova had an idea to start an online business to teach people how to play bridge and she sought funds for it, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Boris Nikolic, a Gates confidant and top science adviser at the time, who also knew Epstein, introduced Antonova to Epstein to help her raise the funds, the documents show.
Nikolic said when he first met Epstein, it was in his capacity as Gates’s scientific adviser and they discussed philanthropic proposals. “I deeply regret that I ever met Epstein,” Nikolic said. “His crimes were despicable. I never saw anything like his illegal behavior. My heart goes out to his victims and their families.”
The Wall Street Journal has more:
Antonova and Nikolic met at Epstein’s townhouse in November 2013 where she presented her proposal to Epstein, who provided feedback, documents show. She was looking to raise $500,000 for the venture, which she called BridgePlanet. Its mission was to “promote bridge by creating quality tutorials for beginners and advanced players.”
On Nov. 9, Antonova wrote an email to thank Epstein for the meeting and reviewing the proposal. Epstein ultimately didn’t invest in the project, Antonova said.
The next year, in November 2014, Antonova stayed briefly at an apartment in New York City provided by Epstein. “I didn’t interact with him or with anyone else while there,” she said.