In the wake of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and suicide, there was a bounty of speculation about how the financier without any real paper trail in finance earned the lavish fortune that allowed him to prop up his predatory lifestyle. According to the results from an internal investigation at Apollo Global Management, a partial answer can be traced back to the massive private equity firm’s CEO Leon Black. Between 2012 and 2017, investigators found that Black paid Epstein $158 million for a “variety of issues related to trust and estate planning, tax, philanthropy, and the operation of the Family Office” — in addition to a $30 million loan, of which only a third was paid back.
The investigation, conducted by the law firm Dechert at the request of Apollo, came after the New York Times revealed in October 2020 that Black had paid Epstein at least $75 million for his financial services. The review by Dechert boosted that number to $158 million, while determining that Epstein had provided Black with “legitimate advice” on estate planning and other tax matters. On the day the investigation’s findings were made public, Black announced he would step down from his role as Apollo’s CEO by July 2021, but will retain his title as chairman.
Black’s payments to Epstein came after Epstein’s release from prison for a 2008 conviction on a charge of procuring a child for prostitution — a deal that was notoriously lenient, allowing him out of custody for six days a week on work release. And though the Dechert inquiry stated that Black believed Epstein “served his time” and deserved a second chance, the year after he stopped providing funds to Epstein, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general alleges Epstein was trafficking children to his private key in the territory.
While many Epstein associates have been tarnished by their connections to the convicted sex offender, Black is one of his former friends who had yet to face any material consequences for associating with Epstein. In addition to the chairman title he will continue to hold at Apollo, Black remains the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art.