Whatever Happened To Epstein's Island?

Before his arrest and death, billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein allegedly used his very own private island in the Caribbean to host scores of underage girls. Many things about Epstein — who died in prison before standing trial for sex trafficking charges — are still mired in secrecy, including the activities that took place at his Caribbean home.

Known as "Pedophile Island" to local Virgin Islanders, horrifying stories about the island of Little St. James continue to generate grim fascination. Local witnesses living on nearby St. Thomas reported that they regularly saw girls coming and going to the island, some of whom were young children (per Vanity Fair). The long list of high-profile figures rumored to have visited Little St. James is also very extensive — featuring everyone from Bill Clinton to Stephen Hawking — and Prince Andrew even admitted to visiting it during his infamous interview with Emily Maitlis.

Epstein bought the 75-acre island for $7.95 million back in 1998, and on it, he built a sprawling estate that was mostly hidden from public view (via NBC News). The sizable complex contained a spa, a gym, and a swimming pool, among various other amenities. According to a whistleblower who once worked on the island, the main complex was also once filled with photos of naked women. Epstein also bought the island next door, 165-acre Great St. James, in 2016. Left vacant after his arrest in 2019, Little St. James has since attracted a number of visitors, been subject to an FBI raid, and was eventually sold off after a legal battle over Epstein's estate.

The FBI raid and tight security

Two days after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell, the FBI raided Little St. James as part of its investigation. The official Epstein task force hoped to find more information about his purported trafficking ring but would not speak to the media about what they uncovered. FBI agents weren't the only visitors, though, and given the general fascination with the rumors surrounding the island, it's no surprise. In 2019, two YouTubers — Jeff Berwick and Luke Rudkowski — took matters into their own hands and convinced a local to drop them off by boat. The pair were able to (illegally) explore for 30 minutes before escaping when they spotted other people on the island driving golf carts.

Rudkowski and Berwick were particularly interested in investigating a blue and white striped building on the island known colloquially as "the temple." The odd building has sparked a host of wild conspiracy theories online, with some people calling in a ritualistic abuse site. According to Insider, the "most plausible and supported theory" is that it's a music room. The pair posted their footage to their YouTube channel, which includes images of creepy furniture and statues Epstein used to decorate the island. Another YouTube vigilante, Tyler Oliveira, also traversed Little Saint James after using a jetski to get there, but ran away immediately upon being spotted.

Compensation for the victims

Following the death of Jeffrey Epstein, a three-year-long legal battle unfolded over his estate. It was ultimately decided in 2022 that the estate owed $105 million to the Virgin Islands to settle sex trafficking and child exploitation claims and would also have to sell his two islands. As part of the settlement deal, it was agreed that half the money from the sale of the two islands would go to the territorial government, CNBC reported. Officials said this money would go to a government trust to fund programs for victims of sexual abuse, per NPR. As of 2022, the estate — originally worth around $600 million dollars, according to The New York Times — had paid $121 million to 136 women abused by Epstein.

In addition to providing for the sex abuse victims, the executors also had to pay out a lump sum for the environmental damage done to the islands themselves. The area around the two pieces of land is surrounded by delicate coral reefs and teeming with wildlife — however, Epstein refused to follow planning regulations and simply built whatever he wanted, incurring considerable damage. Environmental inspectors who arrived on the island were simply waved away at the dock. It is believed that undoing the damage will be quite expensive, and the estate was forced to fork over $450,000 to help pay for it.

The island is sold

Although both islands were originally priced at $55 million dollars each, they eventually sold for far less. Billionaire Stephen Deckoff was able to buy both for just $60 million in 2023. Little St. James in particular — now saddled with an extremely creepy reputation — cost the billionaire mogul just $8 million.

Deckoff — the founder of the private equity firm Black Diamond Management, who has a net worth of $3 billion according to Forbes magazine — is deeply invested in the Virgin Islands, both literally and figuratively, having lived there for more than 10 years. He intends to transform the sordid island into a world-class resort, and he is currently in the process of recruiting engineers and architects to have his dream realized.

According to a press release published on Cision PR Newswire, Deckoff hopes that the resort will be open as soon as 2025. He stated, "There is simply no place in the world as special as the U.S. Virgin Islands and I am humbled by the opportunity to share its splendor with visitors in a manner that will provide economic benefits to the region while respecting its culture, history and natural beauty. I very much look forward to working with the U.S. Virgin Islands to make this dream a reality."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).