Nov 27, 2021 • 1HR 12M

Podcast: Ghislaine Maxwell and Useful Monsters

Doug Bell on the media mogul Robert Maxwell's long shadow on the trial of Jeffrey Epstein's chief accomplice

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Appears in this episode

Jeet Heer
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Robert Maxwell (photographer unknown, photo from Dutch National Archives)

Ghislaine Maxwell is about to stand trial on charges of facilitating a child rape ring she allegedly ran with the late Jeffrey Epstein. As it happens, Esptein was not the first monster is Maxwell’s life. She’s the daughter of Robert Maxwell (1923-1991), the notorious British press baron who, after he died, was revealed to have stolen a vast fortune from the pension fund of The Daily Mirror.

Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein had much in common besides the Ghislaine Maxwell connect. Both men were mysteriously wealthy, both had murky but real connections to intelligence agencies, both liked to secretly record those they met, both died under ambiguous circumstances (with many observers suspecting that a seeming suicide could be something worse). Most importantly, they proved of service to powerful interests. They were useful monsters.

I talked with Doug Bell, regular guest on the podcast, about Robert Maxell’s life and the way the late media moghul anticipated the life of Ghislaine Maxwell, who happened to be the favorite of his nine children. When the naked body of Robert Maxwell jumped, fell, or was pushed off a yacht, it carried the resonate name The Lady Ghislaine.

In our talk, we draw heavily on John Preston’s fine book Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell. In the podcast, I return to a subject of an earlier post, the British press’ sympathy for Ghislaine Maxwell. That post can profitably read in conjunction with this podcast. The earlier podcast Doug and I did about Conrad Black also helps augment and enrich this topic.

Below is a link to another podcast, recommended by Doug, about Maxwell done by longtime muckrakers Ian Hislop and Francis Wheen.

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