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The arrest of New York financier Jeffrey E. Epstein has resulted in many people trying to distance themselves from the registered sex offender, including scrubbing records of him attending high-profile events.
Epstein, 66, was arrested earlier this month at Teterboro Airport on charges that between 2002 and 2005, Epstein "exploited and abused" dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14.
In the early 2000s and as recently as 2011, Epstein, whose billionaire status is now under question, would hobnob with a who's who of academia, literature and Silicon Valley at literary agent John Brockman's gathering dubbed the "Billionaires' Dinner,” an annual event held during the TED conference in Monterey, California.
In a now deleted post on Brockman’s nonprofit The Edge Group’s website, the “Billionaires Dinner” is described as one of Epstein’s "favorite events." It added that Epstein "enjoys hanging with stimulating and provocative thoughtful minds, who have achieved a high degree of success in finance, company, high tech, and scientific research."
The occasion is "a night where the large names in finance, business, philanthropy, and science gather together. For one night, the richest people in the world come face to face with the most intelligent individuals in history."
The New York Times reported in 2002 that Epstein "flew a bunch of Tedsters to Monterey in his Boeing 727, outfitted with mink and sable throws and a high-altitude lunch catered by Le Cirque 2000."
Photographed onboard the plane were Brockman, Steven Pinker, Daniel C. Dennett, Katinka Matson, Richard Dawkins.
The original caption, shown above from a Yahoo Finance screengrab, has been altered to exclude the association with Epstein.
Pinker, a Harvard professor of psychology and author was onboard that flight. He told Yahoo Finance that he has found himself at some of the same events as Epstein, but has no personal or professional relationship with him and has only spoken to him three times that he can recall.
"I first met Epstein a couple of years before that plane trip, when I was invited to chat with him over coffee with a few mutual friends who said he was really smart, intellectual, and scientifically curious,” Pinker told Yahoo Finance. “My own impressions were different.”
Pinker went on to describe Epstein as a "kibitzer."
"[He] liked to hang out with [and] shoot the breeze with smart and famous people, but he was intellectually lazy and immature: abruptly changing the subject, dismissing people’s observations with wisecracks, considering his own intuition to be as valid as data from experts,” Pinker added.
Another passenger on that trip, the philosopher and author Daniel C. Dennett, described the flight as "uneventful" and that Epstein "pretty much stayed to himself."
Two photos completely removed
While the Epstein mention in the plane photo caption was altered, two photos from the event are no longer featured on the Edge’s website.
At the 2002 dinner were guests like Dean Kamen, Linda Stone, Richard Saul Wurman, Steve Petranek, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kara Swisher, Nathan Myhrvold, Christopher J. Anderson, George Dyson, W. Daniel Hillis, Stewart Brand, Katinka Matson, Peter Schwartz, Ryan Phelan, Richard Dawkins, Louis Rossetto, Daniel C. Dennett, David Bunnell, Steven Levy, Charles Simonyi, Sergey Brin, and Marney Morris, according to the page.
At least one guest, in particular, stood out as not having major business or literary accomplishments. That person is Sarah Kellen who appears in two now-deleted photographs.
Kellen, who is now married to Nascar driver Brian Vickers, has been accused of recruiting young girls, maintaining Epstein's schedule and handling travel arrangements for the young girls being exploited. She’s specifically identified in the controversially lenient non-prosecution agreement as a “potential co-conspirator.”
For nearly 15 years, Epstein’s foundations have been major financial supporters of Brockman’s non-profit the Edge Foundation, Inc., contributing more than half a million dollars in that timeframe, according to Yahoo Finance’s calculations. In 990 filings, Epstein's The C.O.U.Q. Foundation donated $25,000 in 2001, $50,000 in 2003, $55,000 in 2004, and $200,000 in 2005, to the Edge Foundation, Inc.
The Edge Foundation received multiple donations from Epstein's Enhanced Education, including $30,000 in 2015, $50,000 in 2011, and $50,000 in 2010, 990 filings shows. The J. Epstein Foundation gave $50,000 in 2002 and $25,000 in 2001, records show.
The investigation into Epstein began in 2005 by the Palm Beach Police Department. As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida began preparing federal criminal charges, Epstein's attorneys began plea bargain discussions. On September 24, 2007, Epstein signed the controversial non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney's office. In that agreement, he plead guilty to one count of the solicitation of prostitution and agreed that he would register as a sex offender. He also agreed to a 30 month sentence, including 18 months of jail time and 12 months of community control. In exchange, the U.S. attorney's office agreed to not pursue federal charges.
Epstein was released in 2009 from the Palm Beach county stockade after only 13 months spent in the private wing with six days of work release per week.
In 2011, Epstein appeared again at Brockman’s “Billionaires’ Dinner,” according to the New York Times reporting. Guests at that event included Bezos, Brin, Myhrvold, Elon Musk, Marissa Mayer, Zack Bogue, Anne Wojcicki, and David Brooks, a page for the dinner shows.
Epstein attended the Billionaires’ Dinner in 1999 and in 2000, but those pages appear to have also been removed. He also attended in 2004 at a “downsized” or “more exclusive” Edge dinner.
Attendees at the 1999 dinner included Richard Saul Wurman, Nathan Myhrvold, Linda Stone, Steve Case, Marney Morris, John McCrea, Joichi Ito, Katinka Matson, Jeffrey Epstein, Doug Rowan, Leon M. Lederman, Kevin Kelly, Jean Case, Pattie Maes, David Bunnell, Jeff Bezos, W. Daniel Hillis, Kai Krause, according to a cached version of the page. Another cached page for the 2000 event shows that guests included Marney Morris, Pattie Maes, Charles Simonyi, Kara Swisher, George Dyson, Linda Stone, David Braunschvig, Katinka Matson, W. Daniel Hillis, Dean Kamen, Stewart Brand, Kip Parent, Nathan Myhrvold, Jeffrey Epstein, Brewster Kahle.
Brockman, the founder of the Edge Foundation, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Julia La Roche is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.