Investigation Clarifies Details of Leon Black and Jeffrey Epstein’s Connections

There's a lot to review here

Leon Black at MOMA
Leon Black and Debra Black attend MOMA's Party in the Garden 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art.
Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The Museum of Modern Art

Late in July 2023, news emerged that Leon Black was facing a federal lawsuit accusing him of the rape of a teenage girl. As Hyperallergic noted in their article on the lawsuit, the location where this was said to have taken place added another unpleasant layer to the proceedings: Jeffrey Epstein’s New York City townhouse. This was not the first time Black’s connections to Epstein had been front and center in the public eye; in 2021, he stepped down as head of Apollo Global Management due to the money he had paid Epstein over the years. He remains, as Hyperallergic’s article pointed out, a MoMA trustee.

Now, in an investigative report by Johanna Berkman at Air Mail, the extent of Black and Epstein’s connections has come into sharper relief.

As part of the investigation, Berkman reviewed documents that were part of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ongoing lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase. She noted that Epstein had set up a firm known as Southern Trust — and that it had received $158 million between 2013 and 2017. This amount matches up with a figure that Black is said to have paid Epstein during the same period of time. (A spokesperson for Black said that these were for “legitimate financial advisory services.”)

The investigation offers a lot to ponder — including an analysis of a report that Apollo Global Management hired a law firm to produce into Black’s ties to Epstein. This includes a series of donations to nonprofits at one another’s requests — or, as Berkman writes, “Epstein was effectively donating Black’s money back to Black’s charity.”

While Air Mail’s investigation may answer some questions about Black’s connections to Epstein, it raises several more. It’s an unsettling look into one of the most unsettling news stories in recent memory.

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