Billionaire buys Jeffey Epstein’s private islands for $60M
Stephen Deckoff buys notorious properties for half its asking price
The name Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t enough to scare away a billionaire from buying the deceased sex offender’s private islands in the Virgin Islands, albeit at a steep discount.
Stephen Deckoff, founder of Black Diamond Capital Management, bought from Epstein’s estate two private islands off the coast of St. Thomas — one of which, Little St. James, was a notorious enclave where Epstein reportedly sexually abused dozens of teenage girls — for $60 million, about half of the asking price, the New York Times reported. The other island is called Great St. James.
Epstein committed suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to a $105 million fund Epstien’s estate reached with the U.S. Virgin Islands, the outlet said.
Deckoff said in a release that he plans to build a 25-room resort on the islands, though there is no mention of which island the construction is planned for. Little St. James is more developed than Great St. James.
Savvy real estate investors aren’t shy about acquiring properties from their infamous former owners, though there appears to be a difference between whether the alleged malfeasance took place at those properties.
A New York City townhouse owned by Epstein sold for $51 million in 2021 after being listed for $86 million, Air Mail reported.
In 2010, Al Kahn, the licensing executive behind Pokémon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was quick to snap up the penthouse at 133 East 64th Street previously owned by disgraced financier Bernie Madoff, who had just pleaded guilty to running the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Khan paid $8 million, 20 percent less than the asking price.
“I thought the place was undervalued,” Kahn told the outlet. “I checked out other apartments in the building and the area, and they were going for significantly more than this one was going for. I thought it was a good opportunity to make a profit.”
Following a divorce, Kahn’s ex-wife Patsy sold the penthouse in 2014 for $14 million to real estate investor Lawrence Benenson, who also bought the adjacent apartment for $4 million. Benenson recently tried to sell the property for $18.5 million, but pulled the listing in January after not receiving any offers.
In 2020, a Bel Air mansion owned by Lori Loughlin — who was facing jail time due to the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal — sold in 2020 for $18.7 million, $10 million less than its asking price.
Buyers care less about the reputations of the previous owners and more about getting a bargain.
“They’re savvy people,” John Gomes, of Douglas Elliman, told Air Mail. “They know how long to wait. They know how low to bid, and they know when to pounce.”
— Ted Glanzer