Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and chair­man of its board until 2014, was among the pow­er­ful men who spent a mean­ing­ful amount of time with the sex offend­er Jef­frey Epstein, accord­ing to report­ing from The New York Times. Employ­ees of Gates’ name­sake foun­da­tion report­ed­ly also met with Epstein, in mul­ti­ple vis­its to the dis­graced financier’s man­sion.

A spokes­woman for Gates declined to say how many times the pair had met

Pre­vi­ous­ly, Gates had told The Wall Street Jour­nal that he didn’t have a “busi­ness rela­tion­ship or friend­ship” with Epstein. “I met him,” Gates told the Jour­nal on Sep­tem­ber 10th. “I didn’t have any busi­ness rela­tion­ship or friend­ship with him. I didn’t go to New Mex­i­co or Flori­da or Palm Beach or any of that. There were peo­ple around him who were say­ing, hey, if you want to raise mon­ey for glob­al health and get more phil­an­thropy, he knows a lot of rich peo­ple.”

In The New York Times arti­cle, a spokes­woman for Gates declined to say how many times the pair had met. The paper’s report­ing shows that Gates met with Epstein “numer­ous times,” includ­ing at least three times at Epstein’s town­house. “His lifestyle is very dif­fer­ent and kind of intrigu­ing although it would not work for me,” Gates wrote in a 2011 email to col­leagues. His spokes­woman says he was “refer­ring only to the unique décor of the Epstein res­i­dence.”

“Bill Gates regrets ever meet­ing with Epstein and rec­og­nizes it was an error in judg­ment to do so,” his spokes­woman told The New York Times. “Gates rec­og­nizes that enter­tain­ing Epstein’s ideas relat­ed to phil­an­thropy gave Epstein an unde­served plat­form that was at odds with Gates’s per­son­al val­ues and the val­ues of his foun­da­tion.”

Epstein told the peo­ple there that his con­vic­tion for solic­it­ing pros­ti­tu­tion from an under­age girl was no worse than “steal­ing a bagel”

The Gates Foun­da­tion has com­mit­ted $1 bil­lion to gen­der equal­i­ty. Melin­da Gates, Bill’s wife and co-chair of The Gates Foun­da­tion, has said $1 bil­lion is “only a small frac­tion of what’s nec­es­sary.” The foun­da­tion has often tout­ed its com­mit­ments to women and girls.

In 2011, Gates instruct­ed a team to meet Epstein at his town­house to dis­cuss phil­an­thropic fundrais­ing, The New York Times reports. Epstein told the peo­ple there that his con­vic­tion for solic­it­ing pros­ti­tu­tion from an under­age girl was no worse than “steal­ing a bagel,” accord­ing to two peo­ple who were there.

The two remained in con­tact, and at one point in 2013, Gates flew on Epstein’s jet from New Jer­sey to Palm Beach, Flori­da, accord­ing to a flight man­i­fest. Gates’ spokes­woman claims Gates, who owns his own pri­vate jet, didn’t know it was Epstein’s plane. Though the rela­tion­ship between Gates and Epstein appar­ent­ly cooled off after 2014, the Gates Foun­da­tion remained in con­tact with Epstein through 2017.

Accord­ing to today’s report­ing, two mem­bers of Gates’ inner cir­cle served as inter­me­di­aries between Gates and Epstein. One, Melanie Walk­er, met Epstein after she grad­u­at­ed from col­lege in 1992; she moved to New York, where she stayed in a build­ing owned by Epstein. She also worked for Epstein in 1998 as a sci­ence advi­sor, after grad­u­at­ing from med­ical school. She joined the Gates Foun­da­tion in 2006.

That was where she met Boris Nikolic, who was the Gates Foundation’s sci­ence advi­sor. She intro­duced him to Epstein. Nikolic, who now runs a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm, was named as a fall­back execu­tor to Epstein’s will. (He has declined to do so in court pro­ceed­ings.) Gates is an investor in Nikolic’s fund. Accord­ing to The New York Times, Nikolic says: “I deeply regret ever meet­ing Mr. Epstein.”

Pho­to by Ryan Man­ning / The Verge

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