Almost one year before he died in a Manhattan prison cell, wealthy New York financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein claimed during an interview with a New York Times reporter that he was advising Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive who was in a sea of legal trouble at the time.
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Epstein, the 66-year-old accused of child sex trafficking and sexually abusing dozens of girls as young as 14, reportedly died by hanging early Saturday morning. Prior to his arrest his 2007 guilty plea to solicitation of prostitution with a minor, he was known for collecting friendships, forming a circle of noteworthy and influential politicians, foreign leaders and businessmen.
“Mr. Epstein avoided specifics about his work for Tesla. He told me that he had good reason to be cryptic: Once it became public that he was advising the company, he’d have to stop doing so, because he was ‘radioactive,'" the Times columnist James B. Stewart wrote. “He predicted that everyone at Tesla would deny talking to him or being his friend.”
A Tesla spokesperson vehemently denied the report.
“It is incorrect to say that Epstein ever advised Elon on anything,” a spokesperson told FOX Business on Tuesday.
Stewart concluded in the story that it seemed clear "Epstein had embellished his role in the Tesla situation to enhance his own importance and gain attention."
At the time of Epstein’s alleged involvement with Tesla, Musk was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission after he abruptly tweeted that he was taking the electric-car maker private at $420 per share and had already secured the funding.
After sending the tweet, Musk outlined additional details in an online blog post, noting that he was all but certain to have landed the investment from the Saudi sovereign fund in July. He later said it was in the company’s best interest to remain publicly traded.
According to the Times, Epstein said he’d spoken to the Saudis about possibly investing in Tesla; however, he did not provide evidence to back up the claim, including specifics or names.
“When I pressed him on the purported email from Mr. Musk, he said the email wasn’t from Mr. Musk himself, but from someone very close to him. He wouldn’t say who that person was. I asked him if that person would talk to me, and he said he’d ask. He later said the person declined; I doubt he asked,” Stewart wrote in the piece.
“Ghislaine simply inserted herself behind him in a photo he was posing for without his knowledge,” a Musk spokeswoman told the Times.