Townsfolk shocked to learn Maxwell lived in their midst


The 156-acre estate where Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire.

Fifteen international flights in three years. More than a dozen bank accounts totaling $20 million. A 156-acre property in New England, paid for in cash. These were the trappings of the extravagant lifestyle of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s no-longer-just-alleged madam.

Maxwell, the wealthy, socialite daughter of the late British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell, was an unusual fit for this town. No one knew she was even there until authorities came knocking in July 2020 to arrest her.

Maxwell, 58 at the time of her arrest but now 60, was convicted last week of five counts related to sex trafficking.

After the arrest of her onetime boyfriend Epstein in July 2019 — and his apparently self-inflicted death in a Manhattan jail cell a month later — Maxwell had been a phantom, spotted a handful of times in disparate locations, but never for long.

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Ghislaine Maxwell lived at this secluded million-dollar property in Bradford, New Hampshire, before her arrest by FBI agents on July 2. Damien Fisher

Apparently loaded with money, she moved frequently to avoid detection, according to a court filing. Before that, she was more visible, making public appearances, even doing a “Ted Talk” lecture on environmental issues. After Epstein’s arrest, she changed her primary phone number and email address and ordered delivery packages under other people’s names.

She became an international woman of mystery of sorts, and her whereabouts had been the subject of much interest and speculation.

She landed in a massive property, in the tiny town of Bradford, New Hampshire, a dwelling acquired for more than $1 million in December 2019 through a limited liability company called Granite Realty, LLC.

The luxurious hideaway was where she was arrested.

Maxwell toured the property twice under an alias, according to someone with knowledge of the sale. And her name didn’t appear on any of the documents connected to the purchase, someone else with knowledge of the sale said.

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The gate in the long driveway leading to Ghislaine Maxwell’s property was shut and locked on the day of her arrest. Damien Fisher For the Herald

“Obviously whoever bought this property wanted privacy, and they got it,” the person said.

The woman running the local Bradford Inn said no one in the roughly 1,600-person rural community 30 miles east of the state capital, Concord, even knew she was there.

“For this sort of town, it’s like ‘oh my gosh,’ ” Sally Caravan told the Miami Herald at the time. “It is a close-knit community and usually people are aware if something’s up. So obviously, she must’ve done a good job.”

On the day of Maxwell’s arrest, the property was secured by a locked gate about a quarter of a mile up the long driveway. Reporters staked out the entrance, some having been escorted from the property by a man open-carrying a pistol. Vic Morris, a resident across the road, saw small, unmarked planes circling the property that morning before he left for work.

“I thought they were doing a NASCAR up there,” Morris said. Morris discovered later that day that Maxwell has been living at the property. He said he had never met Maxwell.

“I could have seen her at the Market Basket and I wouldn’t have known,” Morris said. Several months earlier he met a man associated with the property, although Morris said he didn’t catch the man’s name. The man spoke with a British accent.

Morris said he met the English individual one winter morning when the man was plowing snow from the long driveway, across the road, and up onto Morris’ property.

“I could tell he was new at this,” Morris said. Maxwell — born in France and raised in England — didn’t appear to have any other connections to the area.

At the time of her arrest, the government identified 15 different bank accounts held by or associated with her from 2016. During that same span, Maxwell transferred massive amounts of money between the accounts.

In March 2019, she shifted $500,000 from one account to another. Four months later, Maxwell made another transfer — this time $300,000, the filing said.

She also reportedly controlled at least one foreign bank account containing upward of $1 million. In 2016, Maxwell “appears to have reaped substantial income” when she allegedly sold a New York City residence through a limited liability company for $15 million, the court filing said.

Around the day of the sale, $14 million was deposited into an account for which the socialite was listed as the owner, according to the filing. Days later, more than $14 million was transferred from that account into another one opened in Maxwell’s name.

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, discusses the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York City on July 2, 2020. JOHANNES EISELE AFP / Getty Images

“In short, the defendant’s financial resources appear to be substantial, and her numerous accounts and substantial money movements render her total financial picture opaque and indeterminate, even upon a review of bank records available to the Government,” the court filing said.

Maxwell had no children, didn’t live with any immediate family members and didn’t appear to have a job that would require her to stay in the United States, the court filing said. Furthermore, she didn’t appear to have any permanent ties to the country.

Maxwell appeared by video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone in New Hampshire later on the day of her arrest, then was taken to New York, where she has remained incarcerated ever since.

Bradford, New Hampshire, was the beginning of the end.

Ben Wieder is a data and investigative reporter in McClatchy’s Washington bureau. He worked previously at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Press Foundation, Online News Association and Association of Health Care Journalists.

Julie K. Brown is a member of the Miami Herald’s Investigative Team, specializing in criminal justice. She was the winner a 2014 George Polk Award for her investigations into corruption and abuse in Florida state prisons.
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