Convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein once appeared to threaten Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates over an alleged affair with a Russian bridge player, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The publication reported that Epstein discovered Gates had an alleged affair with a woman named Mila Antonova when she was in her 20s.
Gates met Antonova around 2010. Three years later, Epstein met her and eventually paid for her to go to software coding school, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
In 2017, Epstein reportedly emailed Gates and asked him to reimburse the cost of the course. Epstein wrote the email after failing to convince Gates to participate in a multi billion-dollar charitable fund he had attempted to establish with JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), the publication reported. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the implication behind the message was that Epstein could reveal the affair if Gates didn’t keep up the two men’s association.
“Gates met with Epstein solely for philanthropic purposes. Having failed repeatedly to draw Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Gates,” a spokesperson for Gates told the paper.
“I had no idea that he was a criminal or had any ulterior motive,” Antonova said of Epstein, when interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “I just thought he was a successful businessman and wanted to help.”
“I am disgusted with Epstein and what he did,” she added.
According to the report, Gates learned to play bridge from his parents, later playing with Antonova.
In a video posted in 2010, Antonova talked about meeting Gates at a bridge tournament and playing against him. “I didn’t beat him, but I tried to kick him with my leg,” she said in the video.
Gates’ confidant, Boris Nikolic, connected Antonova with Epstein. She pitched the billionaire on the idea of donating to cause to help people to learn how to play bridge for $500,000. He never donated to Antonova’s cause.
“I deeply regret that I ever met Epstein,” Nikolic highlighted to the outlet. “His crimes were despicable. I never saw anything like his illegal behavior. My heart goes out to his victims and their families.”
Epstein is known to have sought connections with celebrities, politicians and business executives, offering favors to exploit them for his benefit.
His associations included former Presidents Bill Clinton & Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and Tom Barrack.
Prince Andrew’s association with Epstein costed him his royal patronage and his military titles.
Gates had more than 12 meetings scheduled with Epstein in 2011, including dinners at Epstein’s townhouse and a flight on Epstein’s private jet from New Jersey to Florida in March 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Gates previously said he only met with Epstein to secure funding for his foundation’s global health initiatives and that he regrets ever interacting with Epstein. “I will say for the, you know, over hundredth time, yeah, I shouldn’t have had dinners with him,” Gates said during an interview with Australia’s ABC 7.30 host Sarah Ferguson.
Epstein was indicted and imprisoned in July 2019 on federal charges of operating a sex trafficking ring. Before his trial, he was found dead in a Manhattan jail in August 2019. His death was ruled a suicide by the New York City medical examiner.
Former significant other and British socialite Ghislane Maxwell was found guilty in child sex trafficking and connections to crimes committed by Epstein. She is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Produced in association with Benzinga
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