Ok, so I’m aware that this isn’t news about St. John. But, with the amount of time our charter boats spend in Christmas Cove (Pizza Pi) and with what the future sale of these islands could mean to our residents and tourism industry, I thought it was a relevant mention here on the blog. Yesterday, two private islands, owned by Jeffrey Epstein’s estate, hit the market for a whopping $125 million.
Most of you are aware that Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender, owned Little St. James. The smaller of the two “Jameses,” as the properties are being marketed by Bespoke Real Estate, is comprised of 72-acres and is located due west of St. John’s Chocolate Hole area. The smaller, southern island with lines of palm trees dotting its ridgeline has been pretty much abandoned since the FBI raided the property just after Epstein’s apparent suicide in August of 2019. With the exception of maintenance and grounds crews that can be spotted rolling around on ATV’s on occasion, the beautiful island with a dark and questionable past has remained uninhabited but VERY well kept.
Epstein purchased Little St. James in 1998 for $7.95 million and established a permanent residence there in 2010.
But, did you know that he also owned Great St. James? If you have ever been to Christmas Cove, you are more familiar with the larger of the “Jameses” than you might think! Pizza Pi is located in this popular boaters destination; a calm cove with great snorkeling that is bustling with day boat, term charter and liveaboard traffic on the daily.
The island that surrounds this cove and protects it from harsh winds is…You guessed it, Great St. James. This larger island (165 acres) was purchased by Epstein in 2015 and, at the time of his arrest, was in the process of building a new estate on the larger of the two islands, according to property records in the US Virgin Islands (ABC News).
Now, this is likely not going to be a “clean” transaction. According to the same ABC News article:
The islands are currently encumbered by “criminal activity” liens placed by Denise George, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general, who in early 2020 filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against the estate. The suit alleges that Epstein created a network of shell companies, charitable organizations and individuals that participated in and conspired with him in a decadeslong pattern of criminal activity tied to alleged sex trafficking of minor girls and young women.
The fate of these islands has been a hot topic of conversation among our charter guests as we regularly make a snorkel stop at the protected cove on the northwest corner of Little St. James. The structures along the shoreline, made notorious by the endless news coverage following the arrest of the financier, sit abandoned and boarded up, yet the landscaping meticulously maintained. We have passed it hundreds of times since 2019…And it never ceases to give me the chills.
On Little St. James, a multitude of structures were constructed under the assumed advisement of the convicted sex offender and assumed pedophile. A main residence, four guest houses, a helipad, private dock, gas station, three private beaches, two pools, a tiki bar, a gym and an eerie temple like structure that is rumored to have been his “office” dot the landscape of this otherwise picturesque island.
The proceeds of any sale, Daniel Weiner (a lawyer for the estate) said, would be used by the estate “for the resolution of outstanding lawsuits and the regular costs of the Estate’s operations, and will be subject to potential claims by tax authorities, creditors, and other parties.”
I’ll be very interested to follow along with what happens next to these beautiful rocks with a checkered past. What is to become of them? My naive hope is that some good hearted bazillionaire out there turns the smaller island with a dark aura into some kind of a domestic violence safe haven or battered women’s shelter. That’s likely, far cry from reality. But, a girl can dream, right?