There are a million angles to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. It seems highly likely that at this very moment pedophile pedigrees are being constructed which connect Epstein to child sacrifice in ancient Carthage.
Dmitry Rybolovlev is the 224th richest person in the world.
To be specific, the angle I’m interested in is the drug money. Because that’s where the real money is. And unless I’m completely mistaken—always a possibility—underneath the lurid sexual abuse, the Epstein scandal is about money.
In the quest to find connections between Epstein and shadowy global criminal networks, Dmitry Rybolovlev would seem to be an excellent place to start.
Decades-long one-stop bacchanals have been out of fashion for almost 2000 years.
Efforts to convince the public otherwise will be doomed to failure.
But first: I need to say something about someone who has no part in the Epstein scandal, Robert Mueller. It is this: I wish someone had told me two years ago about the whole Myles Standish thing. (see below for details.)
Jeffrey Epstein and “state-sponsored crime”
Much to the chagrin of whoever he worked for; it has rapidly become apparent that Jeffrey Epstein was not just some smart larky guy who ended up twisted. Epstein engaged in highly purposive activities on a schedule intense enough to be usually undertaken only for financial gain.
He began being groomed for his eventual role by the father of our current Attorney General, who recruited him to work at an elite school for which his meagre credentials fell far short of that school’s requirements.
It is far more likely that Epstein’s true role was as a key executive in an unnamed-but-clearly-massive organization that’s usually called “transnational organized crime” by academics.
I think a pithier name is “state-sponsored crime.”
There’s a drug trafficking network I’ve been following since the late 1990’s— a group of ‘connected’ and highly self-satisfied miscreants to whom bad things rarely happen—who appear to have been “linked in” with Jeffrey Epstein.
They comprise one thread in a vast tapestry of Epstein’s offshore skullduggery that journalists and investigators will be teasing out for years. But it’s my thread—or my ‘area’, as they say in Hollywood—because it’s about people I’ve been investigating for years.
Have members of this group left a trail of digital breadcrumbs leading to Jeffrey Epstein?
The Epstein-Trump-Rybolovlev Triumvirate
It would not turn out to be a billionaire alliance for the ages.
Last week we saw one example of Epstein’s ‘Linked-In’ business social network connection, between Epstein and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
Today we look at another: the two business contacts of Epstein’s who were involved with him in a business transaction that’s caused more comment than any other in his story.
Donald Trump sold a mansion in Palm Beach. Sounds cut and dried. But nothing about it was simple. Trump bought the property—a luxury waterfront estate named Maison de L’Amitié (House of Friendship)—in 2004 for $41 million in a bankruptcy sale. It had nine bedrooms, a ballroom, a conservatory, 475 feet of oceanfront and a 48-car garage.
The mansion, built in 1990, already looked wildly out of date.
Trump spent a million renovating it. Estimates vary, but you can imagine whose estimate was on the high end. Trump put it on the market for $125 million, then lowered the price when it garnered zero interest.
Until Dmitry Rybolovlev came along.
The “discreet” oligarch
Reported the Wall Street Journal, “Its new owner, who splits his time between Moscow and Geneva, reportedly has no plans to move to the U.S.”
“Fertilizer giant Uralkali has just bought Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for $100 million. It’s the highest price ever paid for a single house in the US – according to Trump.”
The Wall Street Journal described Rybolovlev as “discreet.”
“For many years my main business interests have been in the potash industry, but I also have many interests in a range of companies all around the world,” Rybolovlev said. “This acquisition is simply an investment in real estate by one of the companies in which I have an interest.”
That’s the kind of boilerplate quote a newspaper would have refused to accept if they’d known more about him. On the other hand, what if they did, and said nothing?
Both Rybolovlev’s criminal history, and the history of the Pakm Beach mansion Donald Trump sold him, are revealing.
Russia’s got the oligarchs, we’ve got the ‘swells’
The first house built at 515 N County Road went up in 1916, It was owned by Robert Dun, a member of the Dun & Bradstreet family.
Mona (later Countess von Bismarck) was one of the most fashionable women of her time (1930s – 1970s). A decade after her tycoon hubby died, Mona sold the mansion in Palm Beach and moved overseas to a villa on the island of Capri. The spot had once belonged to Roman Emperor Tiberius.
The Palm Beach mansion’s next owner was oilman Charles J Wrightsman of Standard Oil, himself the son of an oilman. He owned, said the New York Times, “one of the most important private art collections in the world.”
Then in 1985, businessman Leslie Wexner of the Limited bought the house for $10 million, tore it down, and began rebuilding. Wexner’s money was being managed by Jeffrey Epstein, which many find this odd, or even suspicious.
Three years later Wexner sold his half-finished mansion Since Epstein was managing Wexner’s money, he would have negotiated, arranged, and been intimately aware of the details of the sale.
Thisis a fact to keep in mind in view of what happens when Epstein and Trump fight over who’s going to get the mansion.
Mansion owner made money at taxpayer expense
Who bought the mansion? A guy named Abe Gosman. And not by mistake, either, it would appear. A business reporter who knew him well described him as “nursing home magnate and vulgarian-at-large Abe Gosman.”
Gosman was “connected.” His company, Meditrust Corp. was the nation’s largest health care real estate investment trust, because it had been “grandfathered-in” as one of only four REITs nationwide to get a huge tax break unavailable to anyone else.
Gosman made his money at US taxpayer expense. Sound familiar? Abe Gosman was one of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach ‘homies’.
After Federal auditors began probing Gosman’s Massachusetts nursing homes, Gosman went belly up. Gosman had been caught in a national anti-fraud campaign called—with no intended irony— “Operation Restore Trust.”
Although several years earlier he was once worth a reputed $470 million—providing a hint of where all that Medicare money goes—Gosman filed for personal bankruptcy in 2001.
Marriage on the Octopussy
Gosman had parked his assets in his wife’s name. To protect his mansion, Gosman was counting on Florida’s homestead law, which typically protects real estate holdings in the case of bankruptcy filings.
But a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that the duo wasn’t legally married because his new wife hadn’t been legally divorced at the time of their big “theme” wedding, which happened aboard Gosman’s luxury yacht, which he’d bought from Bond film producer Cubby Broccoli.
The yacht was called the Octopussy.
With the benefit of hindsight, Abe might have realized getting married aboard ’The Octopussy’ had colored his entire marriage.
The judge said Abe had lost his “marital shield.” $40 million went up in smoke.
Was Trump-Epstein bidding war an organizational dispute?
Epstein thought he should have gotten the house. He was, after all, managing Wexner’s money. He knew it was coming on the market.
“Epstein was also enraptured by the property, which Gosman had purchased in 1988 for about $12 million from Leslie Wexner, the Ohio-based retail executive who was a friend and patron of Epstein’s,” reported the Washington Post.
“On Nov. 15, 2004, the bidders, their representatives, and a small cavalry of lawyers representing the creditors and the Gosman family gathered in a courtroom at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in West Palm Beach. Trump was connected by phone.”
“The auction began with an attempt by one of Epstein’s three attorneys to knock Trump out of the bidding.”
On Nov. 28, 2004 — less than two weeks after the mansion auction — Palm Beach police fielded a tip that young women were seen coming and going from Epstein’s home, then-Police Chief Michael Reiter said in a deposition. Reiter declined to comment.
Four months later police received a complaint from a woman who alleged that her 15-year-old stepdaughter had been paid $300 by Epstein to massage the financier while partially undressed, according to the police report.
The Palm Beach police investigation identified more than a dozen possible victims, the report shows.
“Not a big fan, that I can tell you”
In the wake of Epstein’s arrest, many who socialized with him — including Trump — were eager to have it known that they never much liked the man, or weren’t really friends, or barely even knew him.
But friends and associates said the two wealthy New York-to-Palm Beach commuters had socialized for years, drawn together by a mix of money, women and power.
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who said he pressed the candidate about his ties to Epstein in late 2014 as the real estate mogul considered a White House run, told the Washington Post, “They knew each other a long time. Bottom line, Donald would hang out with Epstein because he was rich.”
“Trump more than doubled his money on the sale of Maison de l’Amitie, a 3,000-square-meter mansion on Palm Beach bought for $41.4 million at a bankruptcy auction in 2004,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The billionaire oligarch that Donald Trump sold his Palm Beach mansion to is responsible, according to Russian newspapers, for ‘the worst ecological disaster in the former Soviet Union since Chernobyl.’”
We haven’t heard that before now, have we?
“Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.”
And that it seems his past has been cleaned up a bit.
The official Russian news agency TASS reported on April 13, 1997 that Dmitry Rybolovlev stood accused of masterminding the murder of a rival for control of Russia’s lucrative fertilizer business.
Rybolovlev and a business partner named Vladimir Shevtsov were accused of organizing the contract killing of the general director of a Perm, Russia-based potash company Neftekhimik, Evgeny Panteleimonov.
“The suspected murderers and organizers of the crime, including the head of the FD-Kredit Bank, Dmitry Rybolovlev, have been arrested,” TASS reported in a story headlined “Investigation into Perm Businessman’s Murder Finalized.”
Five shots at close range. Three horrified daughters.
It took investigators two years to find out why the businessman was murdered in the doorway of his house. Observers believe the crime is related to the potassium and oil business, in which both the victim and the crime’s suspected organizer were involved,” TASS reported.
Before the oligarchs tightened their icy grip, Russia’s TASS had plenty to say about the murder, calling it a “contract killing.”
The story was headlined “Big Chemical Company Director Shot Down in Urals.”
“The general director of a big Russian Chemical company was killed on Monday by five pistol shots at the entrance to his apartment in Perm, a regional center in the Urals.”
Panteleimonov was gunned down at his front door, in front of his children.
“Investigators appeared at the scene of the crime, which took the life of the father of three daughters, within fifteen minutes,” the report continued. A dozen detectives had been assigned to the case.
“Yevgeny Panteleimonov, 44, was recently appointed General Director of Neftekhimik, a joint-stock chemical company with over 1500 employees, after his predecessor resigned suddenly, choosing not to wait for a shareholder’s meeting.”
Everyone in Perm knew who was responsible for the murder. Rybolovlev had gone to school and gotten married to a fellow student at the School of Medicine in Perm.
Then witnesses began to either retract their testimony or disappear. The murder charge murder went away.
Compare these facts with the portrayal of the billionaire oligarch in typical press coverage about Trump’s controversial mansion sale.
Putin’ on the Ritz
When he bought the mansion in Palm Beach, Rybolovlev, whose fortune soared by tens of billions of dollars that year due to an unprecedented boom in demand for fertilizers, said through a spokesman that the purchase was an investment and that he had no plans to swap Moscow life for the Florida coast.
Putin had other ideas.
Dmitry Rybolovlev had recently purchased the Belarusian Potash Company which produced 40% of the world’s potash. Putin was miffed that all that money had been placed beyond his reach.
Rybolovlev was forced to sell out, and left Russia. And that’s how Dmitry Rybolovlev became what American newspapers called “a little-known Russian fertilizer billionaire.”
Rybolovlev, his wife Elena, and daughter moved into a mansion on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1995.
Getting out of Dodge
In addition to falling out of favor with Putin, Dmitry Rybolovlev had even more pressing reasons to “get out of Dodge.”
The “discreet” Rybolovlev had begun his ascent by taking over the potash mines of Berezniki – an industrial city carved out of the Urals in 1932 – and consolidating them into a giant company called Uralkali.
Rybolovlev owned the potash mines of Berezniki – a small mining town at the fort of the Urals. Berezniki was where he made his billions.
The mines were collapsing the ground beneath the city. The mines were subsequently abandoned. As a result of the mine’s collapse, large sinkholes began to appear around the mine and in the city of Berezniki, forcing some 12,000 residents to evacuate their homes. New sinkholes continue to appear regularly throughout the Perm region.
The Russian government launched an investigation into the accident and concluded that a “previously unknown anomaly of geological structure” was to blame for the mine’s collapse.
Berezniki’s name began showing up on Web sites that were a blow to civic pride, like “The World’s Largest Sinkholes: Doorways to Hell.”
In a new book called “The Last Leonardo,” author Ben Lewis calls Berezniki “a flat-spread of pre-fab housing and aging Communist-era apartment blocks.”
“Several hundred mines have collapsed, some as deep as 50 stories underground, with a force registering up to five on the Richter scale.”
“In 2006 the town suffered, when a sinkhole measuring 560 feet by 300 feet opened up. The chasm was polluted with zinc and ammonia in concentrations 1,850 times permissible levels. Russian newspapers called it ‘the worst ecological disaster in the former Soviet Union since Chernobyl.’”
Sinkholes be damned! Let’s buy some real estate!
In a APRIL 10, 2012 story headlined “A Russian City Always on the Watch Against Being Sucked Into the Earth,” The New York Times covered the controversy, just two months after Rybolovlev bought the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York City, a $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West.
“So grave is the danger that the entire city is under 24-hour video surveillance. On a screen in the command center late last year, one such hole appeared as a small dark spot in a snowy field in the predawn hours, immediately threatening to suck in a building.”
In July 2007, the largest manmade sinkhole in the world appeared. Residents gave it the nickname “The Grandfather.”
“A senior official close to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin has said that Uralkali and Mr. Rybolovlev bear some responsibility, even though Mr. Rybolovlev, whose principal residence is in Monaco, sold the mine after the Grandfather opened,” the Times reported.
In December 2008, Uralkali pledged to pay $218 million to the Russian government as compensation for costs incurred by the mine collapse. In February 2009, the company agreed to a payment of $71.8 million to the town.
By that time Rybo (as he’s known) was no longer in the fertilizer business, and no longer living in Russia. He was an art collector, resident in the tax haven of Monaco, and about to become the owner of what would several years later become the most expensive paining ever sold in the history of the world, Leonardo’s aptly-named “Salvator Mundi” (Savior of the World.)
The authorities were left trying to soothe nerves in Berezniki.
“Why worry about this all the time?” Natalya N. Verbitskaya, the mayor’s press aide, said in an interview with the NY Times. “You will spoil your mood.”
“Troubles in battalions”
Dmitry’s marriage blew up at about the same time, after the tabloids had evoked his parties on yachts in the Mediterranean with young models.
After she filed for divorce in 2008, his wife Elena asked a Swiss court to seize his assets in Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, Florida, Cyprus and Singapore.
Their asset hunt pried open the doors of the sale of two beachfront acres in Palm Beach acquired for $95 million from the tycoon Donald Trump, and revealed a stream of wealth he had been hiding in real estate and art.
Details of the Rybolovlev divorce struggle and many others were exposed in secret files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In the early 2000’s U.S. tax authorities were applying pressure to Switzerland to erode its banking and corporate secrecy. Yet the privacy of the ownership of art was left untouched.
It was a loophole Rybolovlev began to drive a truck through.
Rybolovlev bought and then sold Da Vinci’s re-discovered painting Salvator Mundi. Afterwards, a conspiracy theory (“Trump, Dmitry Rybolovlev, QAnon: The End of Politics” suggested Rybolovlev and a cabal of Gulf sheiks colluded in order to benefit Trump and launder money through the painting’s sale.
What actually happened is even worse. Art has become yet another vehicle for money laundering, captured by the offshore society of billionaires which operate totally outside the bounds of accountability in a dark alternate universe where billionaires go to play by different rules.
Noodling about Mueller
I had long been aware, from the time Gary Webb was run out of journalism, that as US Attorney in San Francisco Robert Mueller had stifled prosecution of drug traffickers from the contras who were connected to the CIA.
But I had no idea of what appears to have been Robert Mueller’s secret history.
The original Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts was funded by a group called “The Merchant Adventurers.” They hired an experienced mercenary soldier to protect the colonists. He became the first Governor of Massachusetts. His name was Myles Standish.
Many generations later one of his descendants, Ann Cabell Standish, will marry Robert Mueller, later appointed Special Prosecutor investigating Russian interference, and American collusion, in the 2016 election.
Robert Mueller’s new bride is ‘connected.’
Her grandfather is Charles Cabell, second in command at the CIA when John Kennedy is elected. Her grand uncle, Earle Cabell, is mayor of Dallas when Kennedy is assassinated there.
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Cabell was fired. So was CIA honcho Allen Dulles, and hapless Richard Bissell, who runs Operation 40.
Richard Bissell and Robert Mueller are cousins.
One of Mueller’s classmates is John Kerry, a member of Skull & Bones. In 2004, Kerry runs for president, and loses to George W. Bush, who is also a member of Skull & Bones.
When Mueller prosecutes the downing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, he ignores the group of US intel agents on the plane.
He is named head of the FBI one week before the 9/11 attack. Afterwards 4000 FBI agents fan out, not to investigate, but to make sure the cover-up isn’t threatened.
Loose lips sink ships.
What Mueller didn’t find in his investigation of Russia and Donald Trump was a lot. The biggest thing he didn’t find ? Anything to do with the CIA.
And the beat goes on.