A common mistake when referring to the lavish holdings of convicted sex offender and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein: He has not one but two private islands in the Caribbean. About a mile southeast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands lies the 75-acre Little St. James, which Epstein bought through an LLC in 1998 for $7.95 million. He later added the 165-acre Great St. James Island for the reported price of $18 million in 2016. Below is everything we know about the islands, from their disturbing nicknames, to the alleged crimes that occurred there, to the mysterious temple on Great St. James.
The alleged crimes
Alleged victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre claimed in a 2015 lawsuit that she was a “sex slave” for Epstein, and that she was abused in his homes in New York, New Mexico, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was allegedly forced into “an orgy with numerous other under-aged girls.” She also states that she “was forced to have sexual relations with [Prince Andrew] when she was a minor” at Epstein’s Little St. James estate.
Additionally, the islands would be the likely site of any possible financial crimes related to the criminal investigation run by the Southern District of New York’s Public Corruption Unit, as Epstein ran his mysterious offshore business, the Financial Trust Company, from there.
What is on the islands?
Located between St. Thomas and St. John, as of 2008 Little St. James Island featured a staff of 70, five buildings, and a “flamingo-stocked lagoon.” When Epstein first bought it, he stripped the native vegetation, adorned it with palm trees, and placed two giant flags on both ends of the island. Epstein’s residence on the island is a stone mansion with cream-colored walls and a turquoise roof.
Before he (kind 0f) went to prison, Epstein commissioned a renovation of Little St. James. Per the Times: “The villa will occupy the island’s promontory, which offers views of the Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean on the other. It will have a separate library to house Mr. Epstein’s 90,000 volumes, a Japanese bathhouse and what he calls a ‘Ziegfeld’ movie theater.”
The larger, more recently purchased Great St. James Island is currently — and illegally — under construction. In December 2018, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources issued a stop-work order to Epstein for not adhering to environmental regulations. Not letting the law get in the way, the New York Post reports, “there has been unauthorized work on the island since the stop work order was issued.” The plan for the complex includes an amphitheater and an “underwater office and pool,” according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.
What’s that about a temple?
On a hill on the southwest point of Little St. James Island, there is a temple painted with blue and white stripes and topped with a golden dome. As Business Insider describes it: “The front is flanked by statues painted in gold; one of them appears to be the trident-wielding Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, while two others look like birds perched on the corners of the roof. It is surrounded by a line of palm trees and a terrace with a labyrinth motif. Finally, the exterior seems to incorporate an optical illusion, to create the impression that the exterior windows and door are set within carved flanges.”
According to island workers who spoke with the Associated Press, the building may have been designed as a music studio, outfitted with a grand piano and acoustic walls. (Epstein is a classically trained pianist.)
Business Insider also contacted engineer and contractor James Both, who noticed a few suspicious details about the temple. “It’s styled like what you might see on a castle, with what appears to be a reinforcing lock bar across the face,” he said. “What makes it peculiar is that if you wanted to keep people out, the bar would be placed inside the building, [but the] locking bar appears to be placed on the outside … as if it were intended to lock people in.” From this perspective, sound-dampening walls sound much more suspicious.
Epstein called the islands “Little St. Jeff” and “Big St. Jeff,” though others haven’t been as solipsistic — or generous. “Everybody called it ‘Pedophile Island,’” St. Thomas boat operator Kevin Goodrich told the AP. “It’s our dark corner.” Other names have included “Orgy Island” and “Island of Sin.”
Don’t try to snorkel there
According to the Associated Press, when guides took scuba divers to spots near the coast of Little St. James, “security guards would walk to the water’s edge.” In a similar spirit, when Epstein bought Great St. James, he shut down Christmas Cove, where locals and tourists would order pizza and have it delivered by boat.