Deceased sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein tried to blackmail billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates with his knowledge of an alleged affair between Gates and a Russian bridge player, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
Gates met Russian bridge player Mila Antonova in 2010 when she was in her 20s; Epstein met her in 2013, WSJ reported. Epstein later paid for Antonova to attend coding school and asked Gates to be reimbursed for the cost in a 2017 email, people familiar with the matter told the outlet. (RELATED: REPORT: Epstein’s Private Calendar Shows Meetings With International Business, Political Power Players)
NEW: Bill Gates had an affair with a Russian bridge player around 2010. Then Jeffrey Epstein found out.
— Emily Glazer (@EmilyGlazer) May 21, 2023
Epstein’s message implied he could reveal the affair if Gates did not continue to associate with Epstein, according to people who have viewed it, WSJ reported. His email to Gates came years after the alleged relationship ended and the tone of it indicated Epstein knew about the affair, those familiar said to WSJ.
Gates previously declined Epstein’s offer to participate in a charitable fund he tried to establish with J.P. Morgan Chase, and he did not provide the payment Epstein requested, per WSJ.
“Mr. Gates met with Epstein solely for philanthropic purposes. Having failed repeatedly to draw Mr. Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates,” a spokesperson for Gates told the outlet.
Epstein and Gates began meeting in 2011 and scheduled half a dozen meetings at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, calendar records obtained by WSJ show. In March 2013, Gates flew on Epstein’s private plane from New Jersey to Florida, according to flight records reviewed by the outlet. (RELATED: Left-Wing Disinformation Peddler And Megadonor Reid Hoffman Reportedly Visited Jeffrey Epstein’s Creepy Sex Island)
The pair met another time in March 2013 with a Nobel Prize Committee official in France, and they spent a day together in New York City in September 2014, WSJ reported. Gates has said on numerous occasions he regrets his relationship with Epstein and should not have met with him.
Epstein was trying to create a charitable fund with J.P. Morgan and proposed a minimum $100 million contribution per individual, documents obtained by WSJ show. He was hoping to use the fund to rehabilitate his reputation after he was convicted in 2008 for procuring and soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Epstein’s fund depended on getting support from Gates, and Epstein tried to give the impression he was a close Gates advisor, messages show. His fund ended up going nowhere after Gates failed to provide support for the endeavor.
“The firm didn’t need him as a client,” a J.P. Morgan spokesperson said to WSJ about Epstein. “The firm didn’t need him for introductions. Knowing what we know today, we wish we had never done business with him.” The bank is currently embroiled in a lawsuit by Jeffrey Epstein victims who accuse J.P. Morgan of assisting Epstein with his sex trafficking operation.
J.P. Morgan is also pursuing a lawsuit against former executive Jes Staley, who allegedly worked with Epstein during his tenure at the bank. The two sent more than 1,000 emails back and forth from 2008-12 which included cryptic references to Disney characters.
— KAY SMYTHE (@KaySmythe) May 18, 2023
Antonova declined to comment on her relationship with Gates and said to WSJ she did not know who Epstein was when they met. She attended a university in Russia before moving to the U.S. and working in Silicon Valley, her LinkedIn shows. Antonova founded a bridge club in the U.S. and posted a video of herself with Gates at a bridge tournament in 2010, WSJ found.
A top adviser to Gates introduced Antonova to Epstein to help her raise funds for an online bridge tutoring business, documents reviewed by WSJ show. The advisor, Boris Nikolic, told the outlet he regrets ever meeting Epstein and called his crimes “despicable.”
Antonova and Nikolic met at Epstein’s townhouse in November 2013, where she showed Epstein her bridge proposal, documents show, according to WSJ. Epstein provided feedback to Antonova, who was seeking $500,000 for the venture. She later wrote an email thanking Epstein for the meeting and his feedback, and said to WSJ Epstein did not invest in the project.
A year later, Antonova briefly stayed in an NYC apartment provided by Epstein. “I didn’t interact with him or with anyone else while there,” she told the outlet. (RELATED: Why Hasn’t Anyone From Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Little Black Book’ Been Arrested Yet?)
She decided to become a programmer after she failed to secure funding for her online bridge project, and asked for money to fund a programming boot camp. “Epstein agreed to pay and he paid directly to the school. Nothing was exchanged. I don’t know why he did that,” she said to WSJ.
Federal prosecutors charged Epstein with sex trafficking minors in July 2019 and he was found dead in his New York City jail cell a month later. His partner and co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June 2022 for conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors.