Epstein’s former Upper East Side residence topped a list of New York City’s most expensive properties last summer, with an initial asking price of $88 million. Now the mansion has found a buyer, Goldman Sachs’s Michael D Daffey, who purchased the house at the (slightly) less staggering sum of $51 million.
Daffey is listed on the Goldman Sachs website as its Chairman of the Global Markets Division, but the New York Post reports that he retired from the role this month after 28 years with the American multinational investment bank. He is also said to have amassed a significant fortune through Bitcoin. The paper adds that the Australian native plans to relocate from London to move into his new property with his wife.
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Daffey’s spokesman, Stu Loeser, is quoted in the Post as stating: ‘Mr Daffey had never previously been in the home nor ever met its owner, but he is a big believer in New York’s future and will take the other side of all the people who say the city’s best days may be in the past.’ A source commented that the couple are ‘planning a complete makeover, physically and spiritually’, while another added that the house is ‘totally empty’ of any of Epstein’s belongings, clarifying: ‘There was no creepy weird stuff in it at all.’
The funds from the sale of the mansion will go towards the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Programme, which is controlled by the late financier’s estate, with one source reporting that Daffey paid for the mansion with cash and a bridge loan. The Times adds that since its launch last June, the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Programme has received more than 175 applications from alleged victims, paying out a reported $65 million to eligible claimants so far.
The latest sale comes after another of Epstein’s properties – a mansion and land in Florida’s Palm Beach – was purchased by developer Todd Michael Glaser for $18.5 million. The Post reported in July 2020 that Epstein’s Manhattan mansion was then the most expensive property for sale in the city, according to listings portal StreetEasy. Were it not reduced from the historic asking price, it could have broken the record for the most expensive New York residential townhouse ever sold (currently held by an East 67th Street property, sold by former hedge fund manager Philip Falcone for $77.1 million in 2019).
Now brokers have told the Post that the price is a ‘steal’, and that a similar property without such a troubling past could have fetched as much as $100 million. Luxury real estate agent Dolly Lenz stated: ‘I think it is half off… It is 28,000 square feet. That’s less than $4000 a foot for the most magnificent mansion on the best block, just off Fifth Avenue. It’s the very best in New York.’ She added: ‘We offered it to a lot of people who said, “We don’t want to go near that place”… Fancy international people who are always in for a deal said “No way”.’
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Broker Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group, who represented both Daffey and the Epstein Estate in the deal, added: ‘I think he [Daffey] made a smart move, however, it will be a long time before people forget [what happened at the property]… But he’s betting on it long term. That’s what some people do.’
The imposing mansion is 50 feet wide, 100 feet deep and seven stories tall, with a vast 29,000 square feet of space spread over 40 rooms. The listing through real estate broker Adam Modlin explained that the Macy’s heir, Herbert N Straus, commissioned architect Horace Trumbauer for the project in the 1930s. Its impressive exterior facade – made of imported French limestone – is decorated with ornate carvings and picturesque balconies. The Post added that Epstein is believed to have purchased the property from his former friend and mentor, L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner, of Victoria’s Secret, through a Virgin Islands company headed by Epstein. At the time, in 1998, it cost him what now seems a comparatively modest $20 million.
The Manhattan mansion is where federal agents are thought to have found a safe which contained cash, diamonds and an expired foreign passport, which reportedly listed Saudi Arabia as Epstein’s primary residence. Epstein died by alleged suicide in a New York jail in August 2019, while awaiting trial on further sex trafficking charges.
Epstein’s former girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, is currently being held in a Brooklyn jail, awaiting trial on charges relating to her alleged complicity in his crimes. She has denied all the charges against her.