The pair of Caribbean islands belonging to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been sold to a US investor who plans to build a luxury resort.
Stephen Deckoff, the founder of Black Diamond Capital Management, an investor in distressed businesses, bought the two islands — Great St James and Little St James — for $60mn, less than half of the original $125mn asking price. He will convert the estate to a 25-room hotel, with plans to open in 2025.
“I’ve been proud to call the US Virgin Islands home for more than a decade and am tremendously pleased to be able to bring the area a world-class destination befitting its natural grace and beauty,” Deckoff said in a statement.
He did not address the property’s lurid past — or how he intended to sell tourists on a luxury vacation spot where so many underage girls were said to have been sexually abused. In one particularly harrowing episode, a 15-year-old girl attempted to swim off the island only to be captured and have her passport confiscated, according to court filings from prosecutors in the US Virgin Islands who had sued Epstein’s estate.
Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida in 2008. He died in a New York prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. In December 2021, his former lover and close confidante, Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted for aiding in the abuse of underage girls.
The Caribbean islands were one piece of an Epstein property portfolio that included a Palm Beach estate, Manhattan’s largest townhouse and a New Mexico ranch. Yet the estate — which came to be known as “Paedo Island” — carried an outsized importance in the Epstein saga.
It was where Epstein threw lavish parties and entertained notable guests, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, Jes Staley, the former Barclays chief executive, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, among many others.
The properties were put up for sale a little more than a year ago, with a portion of the funds to be used to settle lawsuits and compensate victims.
The 70-acre Little St James, which Epstein acquired in 1998, is the more developed of the two islands, with a helipad, a main compound, guest villas and other amenities. Epstein only bought the larger Great St James in 2016, and was still in the process of developing it when he was arrested.
Deckoff, who has lived in the US Virgin Islands since 2011, did not immediately return a call for comment. Speaking to Forbes, he noted that he had not previously visited the islands or met Epstein.