Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein threatened to expose an affair Bill Gates allegedly had with a Russian bridge player after the Microsoft co-founder declined to join his philanthropic venture, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
Sources told the Journal that Epstein tried to blackmail the multi-billionaire over his extramarital affair with Mila Antonova, a Russian bridge player who Gates reportedly met in 2010 at a bridge tournament.
Epstein’s threat to the 67-year-old Gates came in the form of an email he sent in 2017 after he failed to convince Gates to join a multibillion-dollar charity fund he attempted to set up, according to the report. The disgraced financier reportedly threatened Gates into reimbursing him for tuition costs that he had initially covered for Antonova to enroll in software coding school.
“The tone of the message was that Epstein knew about the affair and could expose it, the people said,” the Journal reported. A Gates spokesperson told the Journal that the Microsoft founder “had no financial dealings with Epstein."
Gates and his wife of 27 years Melinda French Gates announced their divorce in May 2021.
The report details close ties between Gates and Epstein, which began around 2011 with numerous meetings scheduled between the two, including dinners at Epstein’s New York townhouse, documents show. Gates flew on Epstein’s private plane from New Jersey to Florida in March 2013, according to flight records. That same month the two men met in France with an official on the Nobel Peace Prize committee.
Who are other famous people linked to Epstein?
The pioneering linguist and left-wing activist Noam Chomsky, the longtime Bard College president Leon Botstein, the filmmaker Woody Allen, and a former Israeli prime minister are among the Jewish names listed in a newly uncovered private calendar for the child sexual abuser.
Some of the names had previously been linked to Epstein, a hugely influential Jewish donor who used his largesse to obscure what investigators uncovered years ago as an elaborate underage sex trafficking ring. Epstein met with thousands of people over his career and the presence of their names does not itself indicate any evidence of misdeeds.
Epstein was accused in 2006 of sexually abusing girls as young as 14. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution and was registered as a sex offender and had a stint in a Florida jail.
In 2019, two years after reportedly sending the blackmail email to Gates, federal prosecutors charged Epstein with sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Epstein denied the charges and was refused bail. Months later he died in custody in an apparent suicide.
Andrew Lapin/JTA contributed to this report.