The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab worked to conceal the extent of its fund-raising relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, which generated millions more than previously disclosed, according to the New Yorker.
Continue Reading Below
E-mails and other documents obtained by the magazine show the Media Lab kept accepting gifts from Epstein after his incarceration in the mid-2000s -- even though a university database marked him as disqualified -- and listed them as anonymous, the magazine reported Friday.
The director of the lab stepped down on Saturday after outcry over his financial connections to Epstein, the New York Times reported.
“After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks, I think that it is best that I resign as director of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately,” the director, Joichi Ito, wrote in an email to the university’s provost, Martin A. Schmidt.
Records show Epstein, who died in a federal detention center in Manhattan in August, was credited with winning at least $2 million in donations from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and $5.5 million from investor Leon Black, the New Yorker said. Efforts to conceal the lab's relationship with Epstein were so well-known that some staffers referred to him as Voldemort, or "he who must not be named," a reference to the villain in Harry Potter books and movies.
MIT had previously acknowledged receiving $800,000 in donations from foundations that Epstein controlled, leading university President L. Rafael Reif to make a formal apology. The lab's director, Joi Ito, said that he separately received $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds and that the financier gave an additional $525,000 to the center, according to the New Yorker.
Links with the disgraced financier have become more troublesome for institutions, politicians and business leaders alike since his arrest in July on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. The new allegations followed a plea deal more than 10 years earlier in which Epstein served 13 months in a Florida jail for prostitution-related offenses.
Epstein was acquainted with President Trump, who described him over a decade ago as a "terrific guy," and took former President Bill Clinton on his private plane. He was once a confidante of L Brands CEO Les Wexner, who severed ties with him after his arrest in the mid-2000s.
"In that process, we discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family," Wexner said in a letter to members of the Wexner Foundation last month after reports that the organization had received donations from Epstein.
"I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein," Wexner said at the time. "I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced, and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path."