Thursday’s arrest of accused Jeffrey Epstein “madam” Ghislaine Maxwell caps a spectacular fall from grace for the once well-connected British socialite — who spent much of her life clawing her way back into the upper-crust from family scandal.
Born in December 1961, she grew up one of seven children of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, who saw himself as UK’s Joseph P. Kennedy — the head of a family dynasty that would wield international influence in finance and politics, according to the Telegraph.
Ghislaine, his youngest daughter, was considered the “favorite” and would often try to please the cold, demanding patriarch.
“He would interrogate them at the dinner table about history or geopolitics,” one frequent guest to the family’s estate in southern England told the Telegraph.
“He could reduce them to tears if they didn’t know an answer. He could be a cold man and the temperature in the house dropped noticeably when he was there.”
Ghislaine was sent to Marlborough, one of England’s top private schools, and then studied at Oxford University, the outlet reported.
When her father bought the ailing New York Daily News in January 1991, she was dispatched to Manhattan to prepare for the family’s splash into New York society, according to The Sun.
But the same year, the patriarch vanished from the deck of his yacht named for his daughter, the Lady Ghislaine, into the waters off of the Canary Islands.
His mysterious death was ruled an accident, though it was widely rumored to be a suicide as he grappled with a media empire in ruins.
His businesses were crushed by debt, and it was revealed that he stole $600 million from his employees’ pension funds to keep his ventures afloat.
Of his brood of children, Ghislaine took the loss of her father the hardest, unable to come to terms with his guilt or possible suicide, sources told The Post in the years after his death.
While grieving in London, she also struggled with the shame brought on her family by the now-tainted legacy of her father.
“There’s a story that the Maxwell name was so detested in London that she had to walk around in a blond wig so people wouldn’t recognize her,” another socialite who mingled with Ghislaine for years told The Post in 2000.
“She was being treated like Marie Antoinette there. She wisely realized she had to make her life in New York where her father was less well-known and people care more about what you can do than who you used to be.”
Ghislaine, who had just turned 30, fled across the pond to New York, where her prolific party-planning earned her the nickname “Goodtimes Ghislaine,” The Sun reported.
“She was a huge networker at these bashes, going from famous person to famous person and introducing people who didn’t have a prior connection to each other,” a source, who attended the soirees, told the outlet.
Within a year of her father’s death, she was dating then-Upper East Side financier Jeffrey Epstein, whose famous friends gave her the status as an influential power-broker, as Robert Maxwell had hoped for his children.
“He saved her,” a friend told Vanity Fair in 2011. “When her father died, she was a wreck; inconsolable. And then Jeffrey took her in. She’s never forgotten that — and never will.”
Their relationship didn’t last, but the pair stayed close, regularly photographed together at A-list parties and make trips on Epstein’s jet.
But Epstein’s accusers say Ghislaine turned into something else — a “madam” who helped procure and groom underage girls for him.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a woman who claims to have been Epstein’s teenage “sex slave,” alleged that she was recruited by the socialite to give Epstein massages when she was 15.
Giuffre also claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, a friend of Ghislaine’s who denies the allegations.
The baby-faced Giuffre was famously photographed with Duke of York’s hand on hip, and Ghislaine smiling in the background of the shot.
Giuffre also alleged in court documents that Ghislaine “had sex with underage girls virtually every day” and she and Epstein’s “whole lives revolved around sex,” The Telegraph reported.
Many other young women have also claimed Ghislaine recruited them into Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring.
Johanna Sjoberg, then 21, claimed she was approached by Ghislaine on her college campus about a job to answer phones, and then was later groped by Prince Andrew at Epstein’s New York mansion in 2001.
And another woman, Maria Farmer, has said she met her at an art show in 1995. She claimed both Ghislaine and Epstein sexually assaulted her months later.
Ghislaine Maxwell has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
The FBI eventually opened an investigation into Epstein, and by 2008, he had secretly negotiated a plea deal with federal prosecutors on prostitution charges.
Epstein served time in the Palm Beach County jail — but visitor logs never showed Ghislaine came to see him, the Telegraph reported.
In recent years, she has retreated from the orbit of the New York social scene.
She quietly sold her Upper East Side townhouse in 2016, putting more distance between herself and Epstein, who owned a mansion a few blocks away, the Telegraph reported.
She remained out of view again when Epstein was arrested again in July 2019 in New York on charges of trafficking dozens of minors between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida.
She was rumored to have fled to a secluded Massachusetts mansion in the immediate wake of Epstein’s suicide behind bars.
Her rumored beau at the time, Scott Borgerson, denied that she was staying at his $3 million oceanfront home in Manchester-by-the-Sea, about 25 miles northeast of Boston.
“She’s not here, I have no idea where she is,” Borgerson told The Post at the time. “Nobody wants to be close to this radioactive situation.”
She didn’t publicly surface again until her arrest Thursday in New Hampshire.