The now-infamous photograph of Ghislaine Maxwell at a California In-and-Out Burger has captivated Western audiences. She is calm. She is poised. She is a British heiress surrounded by fast food and Americana capitalism, a stranger to both empires but not the forces which govern them.
Like every new development in the strange, perverted saga of Jeffrey Epstein, the snapshot raises more questions: mainly, what does she know? Amid fallout from Epstein’s death, we are left studying peripheral actors to better understand how the powerful protect their own, arriving at bloodlines.
As the youngest of the late publishing mogul and Holocaust survivor Robert Maxwell’s nine children, Ghislaine’s upbringing was one of privilege and tragedy; boarding school, family dinners alongside Nobel Prize winning scientists, Oxford, the drowning of her father under mysterious circumstances off the Canary Islands, the death of two of her siblings, one to leukemia, the other to a car crash.
Months after Robert Maxwell’s death in 1991, Ghislaine’s two brothers, Kevin and Ian, were arrested in connection to their father’s looting of an estimated £450 million from employee pension funds. While the two were dogged by legal hurdles and bankruptcies over the next decade, Ghislaine’s two sisters, Isabel and Christine, built fortunes in California amid the dotcom boom.
It is Isabel, however, who has traversed multiple industries and sits on the World Economic Forum.
Having married and divorced the filmmaker Dale Djessari (whose father Carl Djessari invented birth control), Isabel was tapped to lead the Israeli-American tech company CommTouch (now CYREN) in developing email services from Sunnyvale.
‘They have a trained mindset,’ Isabel told Wired in 1999 about the company’s Israeli employees. ‘They’re much more willing to attack a task without complaint or whining, and when they have a problem they report it, rather than bury it.’
Isabel and Dale’s child, Alexander Maxwell Djessari, would go on to serve under the Hillary Clinton State Department and the former presidential candidate’s transition team in 2016, donating $2,700 to an affiliated PAC, according to FEC filings. Isabel’s most recent romantic partner, the late illusionist Al Seckel, collaborated with Jeffrey Epstein on a 2010 conference at his private island in the Virgin Islands, just two years after the late financier pleaded guilty to molesting a child in Florida. The gathering was called Mindshift, and featured such programming titles as New Financial Systems and Methods and New Trends in Theoretical Physics.
The extent of Ghislaine’s involvement in Epstein’s criminal network of alleged sex trafficking is unclear, though she has been accused in court documents of abusing children alongside her former boyfriend. As we continue to examine her family and business ties, we further descend into an incestuous labyrinth of real estate deals, global nonprofits, and shell companies.
Each revelation brings only more questions.