And in an added twist, the prince was apparently seen in the video waving farewell to Katherine Keating, the daughter of former Australian prime minister Paul Keating.
The same video, shot on December 6, 2010, showed Epstein and a young-looking girl, shivering in the New York weather, also coming out of the house and talking to Epstein through his car window, then going back inside from where a woman bearing a remarkable resemblance to Keating later emerged. Prince Andrew waved at her through the door.
But since The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age first drew attention to the apparent identity of the “attractive brunette” in the video, focus has also turned to Keating.
What was going on inside that house? What might she and Andrew have seen in the gilded Manhattan home the tabloids dubbed the “house of horrors”?
Keating’s relationship with both Epstein and Andrew are obscure, and she is not rushing to answer questions about it. Her previously active Twitter account has been silent since July 31 and her Instagram account appears to have been deleted.
There is nothing to suggest, of course, that Keating has done anything wrong – legally or morally – merely by apparently leaving Epstein’s house and saying goodbye to a prince. She was 29 at the time the photograph was taken.
The palace has said Andrew was “appalled” by recent reports of Epstein’s crimes, and “deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent”.
Keating had recently arrived in New York and was a networking dynamo. Her then-partner Andre Balazs, a hotelier and socialite (and associate of Epstein) had helped Katherine crack Manhattan’s highest echelons of celebrity, wealth and influence.
She had met Princess Eugenie (Prince Andrew’s daughter), Sting’s daughter, and fashion designer Misha Nonoo who reportedly first set up Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, The Australian Financial Review reported.
She worked her way onto charity boards, appeared on a panel at the Davos forum, assistant-produced a Churchill biopic, went to LA for the Oscars and Utah for Sundance. She met French president Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders at the UN general assembly.
And she presented a series of interviews for the Huffington Post, in one of which she interviewed Ghislaine Maxwell.
Maxwell is another power networker. The British socialite, youngest daughter of dead publishing tycoon and fraudster Robert Maxwell, was a close associate of Andrew and of Epstein – for a while the financier’s lover, reportedly his best friend.
She was also alleged to have helped procure young women and girls for Epstein. One of the people making that allegation – which Maxwell strenuously denies – was Epstein’s former under-age “sex slave”, Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, has testified that she had sexual encounters with Prince three times: in London, New York and on Epstein’s Caribbean island (the latter when she was 18).
Epstein died this month in a New York jail after being arrested in July and charged with sex trafficking. In 2007 he had been indicted for sexually abusing at least 40 under-age girls in his homes in New York and Palm Beach. He served only 13 months in a county jail thanks to a plea deal. But an investigation by the Miami Herald forced prosecutors to reopen the case.
It is at Maxwell’s London home that Giuffre claims to have first met Andrew. And Maxwell is the third person in a photo of Andrew, who has his arm around the waist of then 17-year-old Giuffre, both beaming for the camera.
The Miami Herald reported that Epstein “had a little black book filled with the names and personal phone numbers of some of the world’s wealthiest and most influential people … actors, actresses, scientists and business tycoons”.
Names linked to Epstein include Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, among many others – and Prince Andrew.
‘A regular guest’
Epstein and Andrew met in the 1990s. In 2011 a source reported to be a mutual friend of Andrew and Epstein told Vanity Fair “Jeffrey taught Andrew how to relax”.
But Andrew already had a long history of relaxing in female company – though, friends insisted, “older, more mature women”. His prior partners included soft-core porn film star Koo Stark, a Bond girl and a Miss United Kingdom.
In 2006 musician Courtney Love claimed the prince turned up at her house a little after midnight one night because he wanted to party. “He’d come to Hollywood to look for chicks,” Love said. “I don’t know what he expected at my house; I think he thought it was going to be like a party.”
The prince was a regular guest at Epstein’s star-studded Manhattan dinner parties, and he returned the favour. In 2000 Epstein and Maxwell attended a spectacular party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark a bunch of royal birthdays including Andrew’s 40th and Prince William’s 18th.
In December that year Andrew threw a birthday party for Maxwell at Sandringham, which Epstein attended. The trio then flew to Phuket for New Year, where Andrew was snapped on a yacht with a group of topless women.
In 2003 Vanity Fair quoted a young woman who described a cocktail party organised by Epstein, which Andrew attended, “filled, she says, with young Russian models”. A literary agent, The Guardian reported, recalled seeing Andrew at Epstein’s house “getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women”.
Vanity Fair reported that Juan Alessi, a former staff member at Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, gave sworn testimony that the prince attended naked pool parties there, and enjoyed massages from a “harem of adolescent girls” (the Prince has denied attending naked pool parties).
According to court documents three girls connected to Epstein were asked by investigators if they had sexual contact with the Prince, but two refused to answer, one citing the Fifth Amendment – the US right against self-incrimination.
In 2015 legal documents filed in a Florida court named Andrew among the men involved in the abuse of Giuffre. Again, Andrew strenuously denies any sexual contact or relationship with Giuffre.
In 2015 the palace said “any suggestion of impropriety [by Andrew] with under-age minors is categorically untrue”.
Tarred by association
Much of the most serious allegations against Andrew so far rely on Giuffre’s testimony, which the judge in that action dismissed as “immaterial and impertinent”, and some of which has been challenged as inconsistent with earlier claims made to a Mail journalist.
Vanity Fair’s source said “after Jeffrey was convicted, I phoned Andrew and told him, ‘You cannot have a relationship with Jeffrey. You can’t do these things.’ And he said, ‘Stop giving me a hard time. You’re such a puritan’.”
The conversation descended into a screaming match, “and finally Andrew said, ‘Leave me alone. Jeffrey’s my friend. Being loyal to your friends is a virtue. And I’m going to be loyal to him.’”
“Andrew has a stubborn streak. He does stupid things out of hubris, to show that he can do them. If he likes someone, he’ll ignore the truth about that person.”
Another source told the Express “sometimes [Andrew] doesn’t realise the consequences of his actions … If he is guilty of anything then it is of choosing his friends unwisely. He insists he didn’t know about anything that was going on or that Jeffrey was procuring young girls. But he has been tarred by association.”
But there is a lot of tar, and not just from Epstein.
The Guardian has reported that Andrew hosted a lunch at Buckingham Palace for the billionaire son-in-law of an oppressive and corrupt Tunisian president, and on another occasion accepted a gift of a £20,000 diamond necklace – for his daughter Beatrice – from a convicted Libyan gun and drug smuggler.
Questions have been raised over his reported secret trip in 2008 to Libya to meet Muammar Gaddafi (a Labour MP has claimed Andrew was a “very close friend” of Gaddafi’s son Saif).
Questions were also raised about Andrew’s trip to Egypt to dine with the corrupt president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose son-in-law subsequently bought Andrew’s mansion home for a surprisingly large amount of money.
The palace denied any impropriety by Andrew. He was simply doing his job as Britain’s “special trade representative”, an unsalaried but all-expenses-paid role he was given after retiring from the Navy.
The UK government’s trade and investment body said Andrew’s “unique position gives him unrivalled access to members of royal families, heads of state, government ministers and chief executives of companies”.
But by early 2011 there were loud calls for him to quit. British journalists had regularly remarked how his delegations often took in ski slopes and golf courses, and reported he travelled with a huge entourage – and a six-foot-long ironing board.
‘A gigantic error of judgment’
In December 2010 Wikileaks had published a classified cable from a US diplomat reporting Andrew’s “astonishingly candid” and “rude” performance at a brunch in Kyrgyzstan. He had criticised Serious Fraud Office “idiocy” for probing an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, remarked that the UK and US were “back in the thick of playing the Great Game [in Central Asia and the Middle East] and this time we aim to win”, and commented that “Americans don’t understand geography, never have”.
That same month – reportedly less than 24 hours after the video featuring Keating and Andrew at Epstein’s New York home was shot – Epstein and Andrew were photographed strolling together in New York’s Central Park. That photo was published by the News of the World in February 2011.
Soon after that it emerged that Sarah Ferguson had accepted £15,000 from Epstein to help pay off her debts. When the gift came to light Ferguson said, “I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf.”
In July 2011 the palace announced Andrew would step down as trade envoy.
He was not photographed with Epstein again. But the damage had already been done.
Nick Miller is Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age