Jeffrey Epstein is under indictment for sex crimes in Palm Beach, Florida, and I'd expected that when he came into the office of PR guru Howard Rubenstein, he would be sober and reserved. Quite the opposite. He was sparkling and ingenuous, apologizing for the half-hour lateness with a charming line--"I never realized how many one-way streets and no-right-turns there are in midtown. I finally got out and walked"--and as we went down the corridor to Rubenstein's office, he asked, "Have you managed to talk to many of my friends?" Epstein had been supplying me the phone numbers of important scientists and financiers and media figures. "Do you understand what an extraordinary group of people they are, what they have accomplished in their fields?"
One of the accusers--a girl of 14--had put his age at 45, not in his fifties, and you could see why. His walk was youthful, and his face was ruddy with health. He had none of the round-shouldered, burdened qualities of middle age. There was nothing in his hands, not a paper, a book, or a phone. Epstein had on his signature outfit: new blue jeans and a powder-blue sweater. "I've only ever seen him in jeans," his friend the publicist Peggy Siegal had reported, saying there was a hint of arrogance in that, Epstein's signal that he doesn't have to wear a uniform like the rest of us.
I told Epstein and Rubenstein the sort of story New York wanted to do, and Epstein seemed to find ironic delight in every word. "A secretive genius," I'd said. "Not secretive, private," he corrected in his warm Brooklyn accent. "And if I was a genius I wouldn't be sitting here." "A guy with sex issues." A smile formed on Epstein's bow-shaped lips. "What do you mean by sex issues?" Well ... He was 54, had never married--I didn't finish. "Are you channeling my mother?"