A Norwegian cosmetics heiress who denies being late convicted pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend was among people who traveled with him to the Hamptons on his jet critics dubbed the Lolita Express, records show.
Details of the multimillionaire alleged sex trafficker’s East End excursions emerged from flight records reviewed by Dan’s Papers and the recent Manhattan federal court trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite connected to Epstein. She is appealing her December 29 conviction on five counts of sex trafficking and other charges related to recruiting and grooming teenage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. Among the revelations in testimony and records are that Epstein traveled to the Hamptons with heiress Celina Midelfart and his science advisor, neurosurgeon Melanie Walker, who reportedly helped introduce Epstein to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the world’s fifth-richest man. Also listed in manifests for more than 50 flights to and from Long Island — at least a half dozen of which involved Hamptons airports — were pilot Lawrence Visoski, who was the prosecution’s first witness at Maxwell’s trial.
“Ms. Maxwell was number two. Mr. Epstein was a big number one,” Visoski told jurors. “She was the one that pretty much handled most of the finance, my expenses, spending in the office.”
Epstein, a 66-year-old registered sex offender after he pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting prostitution from minor girls, died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019, authorities said, while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly abusing dozens of girls over the years. Epstein’s many high-powered friends over the years have included former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as well as Prince Andrew, who was recently stripped of his military title amid pending lawsuits from Epstein’s alleged victims.
Details of Epstein’s trips to the Hamptons were scarce, but the records show the region was among his many stops on his international travels as he flew with companions between New York, Florida and overseas, as he had homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. None of those who traveled with Epstein to the area have been accused of crimes.
HEIRESS IN THE HAMPTONS
Disputed details about the relationship between Epstein and Midelfart, who inherited her family’s cosmetics fortune, came up during Maxwell’s trial.
“They were a couple,” Cimberly Espinosa, Maxwell’s former executive assistant, testified for the defense during the trial. Espinosa testified that she believed the pedophile dated the heiress behind the socialite’s back.
Another one of Epstein’s pilots gave similar testimony, but an attorney for Midelfart later issued a statement disputing the characterization of the relationship, saying she never dated Epstein and that they were just friends.
Regardless, what is clear from flight records is that Midelfart and Epstein were listed as passengers aboard his plane when it took off from Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach headed to Martha’s Vineyard Airport on August 24, 1997.
The tail number for the plane on that flight was for a 1969 Boeing 727-31, a private jet owned by one of Epstein’s many shell corporations. That plane, known as the Lolita Express and reported to be decked out in red velvet reclining seats and beds, is last known to be rusting away at an airport in Georgia. Epstein’s underage victims have said he and others had abused them on the plane mid-flight.
A representative for Midelfart, who has not be accused of involvement in Epstein’s alleged scheme, did not respond to a request for comment.
THE MICROSOFT CONNECTION
A year after that flight, records show neurosurgeon Melanie Starnes, then a recent college graduate, flew with Epstein from New Jersey to East Hampton Airport in Wainscott around the same time he reportedly hired Starnes as his science advisor.
Starnes is the woman’s maiden name. Now known as Dr. Melanie Walker, she is married to a former Microsoft executive and is reported to have helped introduce Epstein to Gates in 2011.
Walker and another person close to Gates “at times functioned as intermediaries between the two men,” The New York Times reported. The Daily Beast cited an anonymous source as saying that “she did not attend nor help set up any meetings between Gates and Epstein.” Walker, who has not been accused of involvement in Epstein’s alleged trafficking, could not be reached for comment.
Gates told Anderson Cooper last summer that his meetings with Epstein were a “mistake.” Gates’ wife Melinda, who ended their 27-year marriage last year, was widely quoted as saying she was concerned about her ex-husband’s relationship with Epstein. One of the missions of The Gates Foundation is to help girls in need.
Records of the Starnes trip were found in a Business Insider database containing thousands of Epstein’s flight logs. In November, the Federal Aviation Administration accidentally sent another 2,000 flight logs to the publication in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that the FAA had previously denied. It is unclear if the Hamptons flights were among the new or previously disclosed logs.
Testimony from Visoski, the pilot who flew Epstein at least once to a Long Island airport, was key because he said he witnessed on the plane one of the four victims who took the stand against Maxwell.
Visoski told the court that he vividly remembered the “piercing powder blue eyes” of the victim dubbed Jane, who later testified that she had sexual contact with Epstein multiple times when she was 14 years old, sometimes with Maxwell in the room looking on after helping to bring her into his orbit.
Now in her early 40s, Jane testified for the government that Maxwell and Epstein first approached her and a group of friends when they were eating ice cream at an arts summer camp in Michigan in the summer of 1994. She testified that Maxwell would sometimes take her to the movies or hang out by the pool at Epstein’s house, talk about school and had asked whether or not she had a boyfriend. Prosecutors alleged in an indictment against Maxwell that behavior like buying girls gifts and discussing sexual topics with them amounted to “grooming” them for abuse.
After camp ended, Epstein invited her and her mother over for tea, Jane said, adding that she was later invited by Maxwell and other Epstein employees to come on her own. On one of those occasions, Jane testified that Epstein offered to help with her singing career before ending the conversation abruptly.
“He just took my hand and said, ‘Follow me,’” before taking her to his pool house and pulling down his pants, Jane said. “He pulled me on top of himself and proceeded to masturbate on me and then he got up and went into the bathroom and cleaned himself up,” Jane said. “I was terrified and felt gross, and I felt ashamed.”
On other occasions, also at age 14, Jane said Maxwell and Epstein would take her to a massage table in his Palm Beach house and demonstrate how Epstein liked to be massaged. Jane described Maxwell’s demeanor as “very casual” during these interactions.
OTHER LOCAL TIES
The East End flights are not Epstein’s only ties to the area.
As Dan’s Papers has reported, Richard Kahn, an accountant with a home in Water Mill who is an executor of Epstein’s $634 million estate, has been accused of helping Epstein run an alleged international sex trafficking ring. Denise George, the attorney general for the U.S. Virgin Islands — where Epstein’s so-called “Pedophile Island” is located off of St. Thomas — filed papers last year in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands naming Kahn and Epstein estate co-executor Darren Indyke, an attorney and Glen Cove native, with being “indispensable captains” in the scheme.
“Kahn and Indyke organized, controlled, and directed almost every aspect of the Epstein enterprise,” authorities alleged. “They were officers in virtually every corporate entity that Epstein created to fund and conceal his activities.”
The duo have denied the accusations.
“Neither Mr. Indyke nor Mr. Kahn had any involvement in any misconduct by Mr. Epstein of any kind, at any time,” the executors’ lawyers said in a statement.
Lawyers for Maxwell have said she was being scapegoated for crimes Epstein committed. Her lawyers said earlier this month they would request a new trial after one of the jurors in the case told reporters that he shared his experience of being sexually abused as a child during deliberations, and that his account helped sway jurors who were skeptical of Maxwell’s accusers. Maxwell faces up to 65 years in prison when she is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan.