September 9, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to the publishing world
by Ryan Harrington
Perhaps the only thing that we here at MobyLives have in common with Jeffrey Epstein is that the man was once a blogger like us.
Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tom Bartlett explored Epstein’s strange science blog so you don’t have to.
Trying to explain Epstein’s scientific pursuits, Bartlett writes:
A few clues can be found on a now-defunct website (jeffreyepsteinscience.com) that boasted the generically grandiose title Jeffrey Epstein’s Profiles in Science. The site went live in the fall of 2010, just after Epstein’s house arrest in Florida had come to an end—timing that suggests it was a calculated attempt to polish his public image. The website, which you can pull up in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, was a slapdash effort, sprinkled with factual errors, typos, grammatical flubs, and passages lifted from other sites without credit. There is scant evidence here of the sparkling intellect some recipients of his financial support attributed to Epstein.
The blog is mostly composed of vague mission statements, profiles, and paeans to whole fields of research. But we can see how he made a hobby out of the literary side of science. Indeed, Epstein enjoyed rubbing elbows with scholars, often funding their work, and even inviting them to his now infamous private enclave among the Virgin Islands.
In a recent article for The New Republic, influential tech writer Evgeny Morozov examines how many of Epstein’s relationships in the science world were facilitated by the science and tech-focused literary agent John Brockman, and his intellectual fraternity The Edge Foundation. Morozov writes about how Brockman suggested he meet “the billionaire science philanthropist” in hopes the friendship might be mutually beneficial (the suggestion came with several references to the women Epstein tended to have at his side). Morozov declined to take the meeting, citing billionaires as bad company. (!)
It is unclear just yet how many influential authors on the Brockman list and beyond might have been in Epstein’s stable of literary stars, but we can say for sure that Epstein’s various ties to the publishing world—a realm of old wealth and new influence—are only starting to become clear.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.