A death in the Atlantic Ocean, a media empire that once had $4 billion in debt, and a luxury yacht named the Lady Ghislaine: Take a look at Ghislaine Maxwell's family history

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Robert Maxwell and his daughter Ghislaine watch the Oxford vs. Brighton football match, 13th October 1984.

Ghislaine Maxwell has become a topic of public scrutiny for her relationship with former financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested on charges of sex trafficking in July. Epstein was found dead after an apparent suicide on August 10. At the time of his death, Epstein had been while awaiting trial in a New York jail.

Maxwell, a British socialite, is alleged to have acted as Epstein's madam. Maxwell has denied these allegations.

Read more: Elon Musk was photographed next to Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell at an Oscars after-party in 2014

But Maxwell's family has plenty of scandals of its own, dating back to the 1990s. Keep reading to learn more about the Maxwell family.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

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Robert Maxwell was the first mysterious businessman in Ghislaine Maxwell's life.

Robert Maxwell was the first mysterious businessman in Ghislaine Maxwell's life.

Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, is the youngest child of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell's nine children; according to a 2011 report from The Telegraph, she was his favorite. All of Maxwell's children were born in France, according to the Daily Beast.

Robert Maxwell was born as Jan Ludvik Hoch in 1923 in Czechoslovakia, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Despite losing most of his family in the Holocaust, Maxwell escaped to the United Kingdom during World War II, changed his name to Ian Robert Maxwell, and became an officer in the British Army.

After the war, Maxwell entered the publishing business by selling academic papers, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

"Ghislaine's father Robert Maxwell was one of the darkest and most mysterious men to appear in British public life," the Daily Beast wrote.

"Ghislaine's father Robert Maxwell was one of the darkest and most mysterious men to appear in British public life," the Daily Beast wrote.

In a July 2019 article, the Daily Beast described Maxwell as a "charismatic businessman" who was surrounded by an air of mystery.

In 1984, Robert Maxwell purchased Mirror Group Newspapers, the publisher of six British newspapers — including the Daily Mirror.

According to the LA Times, Maxwell went on to expand his empire to include the New York Daily News, publishing house Macmillan Inc., and now-defunct newspaper The European. However, the expansions caused financial troubles for the company. It was later discovered that Robert Maxwell stole money from his other companies and employee pension funds to cover the newspapers' debts, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Robert Maxwell considered Rupert Murdoch his rival, according to the Daily Beast.

Robert Maxwell considered Rupert Murdoch his rival, according to the Daily Beast.

Maxwell attempted to create a media empire that would rival Rupert Murdoch's, the Daily Beast reported.

The two newspaper publishers posted opposing bids for British tabloid The News of the World in 1969, according to the Daily Beast. Murdoch's bid was selected. Maxwell also lost a bidding war for The Sun to Murdoch in 1969.

Read more: What Rupert Murdoch's life is really like: How the mogul grew his media empire and $7.35 billion fortune, weathered scandal, and became engrained in international politics

Various reports indicate that Robert Maxwell did not shy away from questionable business practices.

Various reports indicate that Robert Maxwell did not shy away from questionable business practices.

Maxwell had the Daily Mirror's offices bugged so he could hear what the company's executives were saying about him, according to the Daily Beast.

Maxwell also engineered contests for Daily Mirror readers designed to prevent anyone from winning, according to the BBC. In one contest, any reader who could locate a football in an image printed by the paper was promised £1 million. "He took aside the promotions manager and myself and he said 'between you, I want you to make sure no one can win £1 million,'" former Mirror editor Roy Greenslade told the BBC in 2011.

In November 1991, Robert Maxwell was found dead in the Atlantic Ocean.

In November 1991, Robert Maxwell was found dead in the Atlantic Ocean.

Robert Maxwell had been sailing off the coast of the Canary Islands aboard his 180-foot luxury yacht named after his daughter, the Lady Ghislaine, according to the AP. Maxwell was missing from the yacht for 14 hours before his naked body was discovered.

Maxwell was set to meet with representatives of the Bank of England over his company's unpaid debts the day after his disappearance, his sons told the Sunday Times 27 years after his father's death, according to The Guardian.

The media mogul was 68 at the time of his death, according to the AP. Ghislaine was 30.

After an investigation, Robert Maxwell's death was deemed to have been the result of natural causes.

After an investigation, Robert Maxwell's death was deemed to have been the result of natural causes.

According to The Guardian, Maxwell's death was officially ruled to have been caused by a heart attack combined with accidental drowning.

However, Maxwell's cause of death also became the subject of many conspiracy theories, INSIDER previously reported. His death had been widely speculated by the public to be a suicide because it occurred during a period of financial turbulence for his company.

Years after his father's death, one of Maxwell's sons spoke out against the suicide theories.

"In 27 years I've never speculated: was he killed or did he kill himself?" Maxwell's son Ian told the Sunday Times 27 years after his father's death, according to The Guardian. "If I say anything about it, I think it is highly unlikely that he would have taken his own life, it wasn't in his makeup or mentality. I don't think any murder conspiracy stands up, so for me, it is an unexplained accident and I'm content to live with that."

Maxwell's companies owed more than $4 billion to 43 different banks at the time of his death, according to the Daily Beast.

After her father's death, Ghislaine Maxwell moved to the Manhattan's Upper East Side and began working in real estate. According to a New York Post article from 2000, she was living off about $100,000 a year from a trust fund her father had set up.

After her husband's death, Ghislaine's mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, became a Holocaust expert.

After her husband's death, Ghislaine's mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, became a Holocaust expert.

Dr. Maxwell devoted her life to Holocaust research after her husband's death, earning a Ph.D. from Oxford at age 60, according to the New York Times.

Before Robert Maxwell's death, she spent her time managing the couple's 53-room mansion in Oxford, the Times reported. Less than a month after his death, Robert Maxwell's financial crimes erased the family's fortune, forcing her to move out of the mansion and into a borrowed apartment.

She passed away in 2013, according to the New York Times.

Two of Ghislaine's brothers, Ian and Kevin Maxwell, were tried with financial crimes related to their father's businesses in 1996.

Two of Ghislaine's brothers, Ian and Kevin Maxwell, were tried with financial crimes related to their father's businesses in 1996.

The brothers were later acquitted, according to the AP. Kevin Maxwell filed for bankruptcy in 1992, according to The Guardian.

Ian and Kevin Maxwell have been extremely private since the trial's conclusion, HuffPost reported in 2018. The brothers now own a real estate and telecom businesses outside the UK. In 2018, they launched a think tank called Combating Jihadist Terrorism and Extremism, according to The Guardian.

Ian serves as CoJit's director, according to the organization's website. CoJit did not return Business Insider's request for comment.

The Maxwell siblings have been described as having kept low profiles in recent years.

The Maxwell siblings have been described as having kept low profiles in recent years.

In a 2011 report called "Whatever happened to the Maxwells," The Telegraph noted that Robert Maxwell was "famously good at covering his tracks," and that it's "hardly surprising his family has grown so skilled over the past two decades at simply disappearing."

Ghislaine's other siblings include Anne, Christine, Isabel, and Philip Maxwell, according to the New York Times. Anne is a former actress who worked as a hypnotherapist in Surrey, The Telegraph reported in 2011. Christine launched an internet company. Phillip was said to be in London launching a career as a writer.

As of the 2011 Telegraph article, all of the siblings were reported to have a close relationship with one another.

Ghislaine Maxwell now stands accused of having helped former financier Jeffrey Epstein run a sex trafficking ring.

Ghislaine Maxwell now stands accused of having helped former financier Jeffrey Epstein run a sex trafficking ring.

Ghislaine was a close associate and former girlfriend of Epstein's, Business Insider previously reported. An Oxford-educated socialite, she has been photographed alongside many powerful people, including Donald Trump and Elon Musk.

Maxwell is now accused of helping him find underaged victims to use as sex slaves. She has denied these allegations.

Now that Epstein is dead, the investigation into him could refocus on her. But, as Business Insider's Michelle Mark reported, her location has been hard to track down: Maxwell had reportedly not been seen in public for three years.

That changed on August 15, when a photo shared to the New York Post showed Maxwell dining alone at an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles.

Read more: What to know about British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam who could become the new focus of his conspiracy case


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