Meet Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier arrested for alleged sex trafficking who's rubbed elbows with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Kevin Spacey

jeffrey epsteinJeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City.(Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

  • Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of minors.
  • The arrest comes more than a decade after Epstein dodged federal charges in a secret plea deal after years of fielding allegations of sexually abusing young girls.
  • The charges cracked Epstein's carefully curated and mysterious image that was seeded in the highest levels of New York's political and financial social circles.
  • Read more stories like this on Business Insider.

Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was arrested Saturday in New York City on the suspicion of sex trafficking underage girls in the early 2000s, and is set to appear in federal court Monday.

For those who haven't followed Epstein's sorted affairs, the news, and Epstein's name, may yield puzzled looks.

But Epstein, as a businessman and criminal, has a long documented history.

Here's what you need to know about one of New York City's most infamous billionaires.

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Epstein was born on January 20, 1953 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In his early 20's, he taught physics and math at Manhattan's elite K-12 Dalton School.

Epstein was born on January 20, 1953 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In his early 20's, he taught physics and math at Manhattan's elite K-12 Dalton School.

After attending Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, Epstein dropped out of Manhattan's Cooper Union in 1971. He then enrolled in New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences but left without a degree.

Despite the gaps in his education, Epstein taught calculus and physics at Dalton between 1973 and 1975.

While at Dalton, Epstein's prospects for a high-flying finance career began to bloom.

While at Dalton, Epstein's prospects for a high-flying finance career began to bloom.

While he was a teacher, Epstein reportedly tutored Bear Stearns chairman Ace Greenberg's son and "was friendly" with his daughter, and left the school in 1976 to work at the firm.

Epstein did well at the firm and was made a limited partner before he decided to leave in 1981 to start his own firm.

Epstein did well at the firm and was made a limited partner before he decided to leave in 1981 to start his own firm.

Source: Vanity Fair

Once he set up J. Epstein and Co. in 1982, Epstein's wealth and career get increasingly murky.

Once he set up J. Epstein and Co. in 1982, Epstein's wealth and career get increasingly murky.

New York Magazine credits "those who know Epstein" and "lore" for the only existing and still vague details of the firm's business, which for tax purposes is run from the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

The firm only accepted clients with $1 billion or more of assets and has been shrouded in secrecy since its founding. Les Wexner, the founder of the clothing brand The Limited and a high-flyer in the fashion industry, has been the only identified client of the firm.

"My belief is that Jeff maintains some sort of money-management firm, though you won't get a straight answer from him," one well-known investor told New York Magazine of Epstein in 2002. "He once told me he had 300 people working for him, and I've also heard that he manages Rockefeller money. But one never knows. It's like looking at the Wizard of Oz – there may be less there than meets the eye."

Though many weren't exactly sure how Epstein made money, his wealth began to play out on an international scale as he snapped up properties across the world and set up a foundation that donated to Harvard.

Though many weren't exactly sure how Epstein made money, his wealth began to play out on an international scale as he snapped up properties across the world and set up a foundation that donated to Harvard.

By 1992, Epstein was the official owner of the largest private residence in Manhattan.

He would also later purchase homes in Paris, Miami, New Mexico, and the entire island of Little St. James in the US Virgin Islands.

Epstein gained public recognition through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which put his high-profile connections on display with a $30 million donation to Harvard University.

Epstein gained public recognition through the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which put his high-profile connections on display with a $30 million donation to Harvard University.

Epstein's philanthropic efforts culminated in the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, which made headlines for a 2003 donation of $30 million to Harvard University to establish a mathematical biology and evolutionary dynamics program.

The donation showed off some of Epstein's most elite connections, as he was publicly lauded as "brilliant" by then-Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who would later help represent him when Epstein was accused of sex crimes in 2007.

The donation joined the ranks of what some saw as Epstein's carefully calculated efforts to curate an image of himself as an elite figure.

"He is this mysterious, Gatsbyesque figure," someone familiar with Epstein told NYMag in 2002. "He likes people to think that he is very rich, and he cultivates this air of aloofness. The whole thing is weird."

Epstein emerged as a "collector" of famous and powerful friends, and became well-known for footing travel for a trip to Africa with President Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey.

Epstein emerged as a "collector" of famous and powerful friends, and became well-known for footing travel for a trip to Africa with President Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey.

Epstein's private plane took President Bill Clinton, actor Kevin Spacey, and comedian Chris Tucker to Africa to tour AIDS project sites.

This was one instance of Epstein getting friendly with Clinton, as the former president would reportedly take several flights on Epstein's private plane in 2002 and 2003, according to logs obtained by Gawker in 2015.

His public association with Clinton seemed to be by design, as Epstein said in 2002 that his elite social circle was a "collection" that he invested in.

"I invest in people, be it politics or science," Epstein said. "It's what I do."

Clinton isn't the only president who has been friendly with Epstein. Donald Trump ran in the same circles as Epstein, and seemed to be privy early on to the open secret that the financier was often surrounded by young women.

Clinton isn't the only president who has been friendly with Epstein. Donald Trump ran in the same circles as Epstein, and seemed to be privy early on to the open secret that the financier was often surrounded by young women.

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump described Epstein in 2002 to New York Magazine as someone who "enjoys his social life" and likes women "on the younger side."

"I've known Jeff for fifteen years," Trump told the magazine at the time. "Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

In 2007, Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff told the magazine that when he had flown on Epstein's private plane in the 1990s, Epstein "was followed onto the plane by — how shall I say this? — by three teenage girls not his daughters" who were "18, 19, 20" and "model-like."

"He has never been secretive about the girls," Wolff said. "At one point, when his troubles began, he was talking to me and said, 'What can I say, I like young girls.' I said, 'Maybe you should say, 'I like young women.'"

Epstein's connections proved valuable after Miami authorities began to investigate Epstein for sexual abuse in 2005. The financier was protected from prosecution in 2007 by Trump's now-Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.

Epstein's connections proved valuable after Miami authorities began to investigate Epstein for sexual abuse in 2005. The financier was protected from prosecution in 2007  by Trump's now-Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.

After years of fielding allegations of sexually abusing young girls, detectives in Palm Beach, Florida acted on a tip in 2005 from a woman who said a wealthy man named "Jeff" had molested her step-daughter.

But in 2007, he cut a secret deal with then-US Attorney Acosta that granted Epstein immunity from federal prosecution, and Epstein pleaded guilty only to solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution.

Epstein only ended up serving a 13-month jail sentence, during which he was reportedly allowed to leave jail six days a week to work out of his Palm Beach office.

Epstein's mysterious public image began to crack over the course of his legal proceedings, as he became a registered sex offender in 2008.

Epstein's mysterious public image began to crack over the course of his legal proceedings, as he became a registered sex offender in 2008.

In details of the allegations later revealed by the Miami Herald, Epstein allegedly routinely abused underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

In details of the allegations later revealed by the Miami Herald, Epstein allegedly routinely abused underage girls in his Palm Beach mansion.

The Herald's Julie Brown reported that court documents detailed Epstein paying underage girls to give him massages, during which he would often subject them to further abuse and later offer them money to recruit other young girls.

Joseph Recarey, the lead Palm Beach detective on the case, said Epstein was essentially operating a "sexual pyramid scheme." Brown and the Herald identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein.

A team of prosecutors including Dershowitz fought the charges, and Epstein responded to the suits by saying the girls consented to "the acts alleged" and that he believed they were 18, the Daily Beast reports.

On July 6, Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of minors.

On July 6, Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of minors.

The newest charges are being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York, which alleges Epstein's abuse of underage girls took place in his Manhattan and Florida homes from roughly 1999-2005, according to The Daily Beast.

Law-enforcement sources told The Daily Beast that Epstein's employees and associates recruited the girls, and some victims even became recruiters themselves.

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