For her entire life, the former socialite has endeavoured to please and placate difficult men – and where has it got her? Alone in prison
The two main loves – and diabolical influences – of Ghislaine Maxwell’s life are now so well-documented in the grisly account of her downfall from society darling to prison convict, that you would have to be an Inuit or an alien not to know that she fell from the arms of one monster, her domineering father Robert Maxwell, into the arms of another, paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
But who were the other loves of Ghislaine Maxwell and what do they tell us about the woman now sitting in a New York detention centre awaiting sentencing for sex trafficking? Prior to Robert Maxwell’s pension fund scandal in the late Eighties, when he siphoned off £500 million from his employees pensions to fund his limitless lifestyle, and his subsequent mysterious death when he fell off the back of his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine in the Canary Islands in 1991, Ghislaine’s romantic life spilled straight on to the society pages.
At Oxford, she led the giddy life of a well-heeled member of the Eighties’ jeunesse doree. A sleek-haired beauty, she was seen as magnetic and mesmerising. Her first serious boyfriend was David Faber, chiselled cheek-boned scion of an aristocratic political family and grandson of former prime minister Harold Macmillan. They met when both were undergraduates at Balliol College and were regularly photographed together on the London social scene at Annabel’s and the Chelsea Arts Club.
Dafydd Jones, a society photographer who chronicled the Eighties, recalls Ghislaine being David Faber’s girlfriend, but she also was regularly seen out with Robert Hanson, son of industrialist Lord Hanson, and James Sainsbury, heir to the supermarket fortune. “They were the crowd of people she mixed with. All incredibly well-connected, wealthy and the sort of men she made a beeline for,” he said. “She’s just ignored normal students because that’s just who she was.”
Given Robert Maxwell’s vaulting ambition to become accepted amongst the establishment, it was high on his list of hopes that Ghislaine would marry into the aristocracy. With Maxwell money, she could have sealed the age-old contract of social cachet for cash. Apparently, Maxwell dreamed that he might one day forge an alliance with the powerful American Kennedy clan by marrying Ghislaine to John F Kennedy Jr. But although Ghislaine and JFK Jr became close friends, they were never romantically linked.
It must have been to her father’s delight, then, that Ghislaine’s first great love, Count Gianfranco Cicogna Mozzini, didn’t need Maxwell’s millions as the Italian Milanese nobleman was a member of the wealthy Ciga hotels clan. Gianfranco Cicogna, educated at Millfield, worked at Credit Suisse First Boston when he went out with Ghislaine. Like a European James Bond, Cicogna was dashing and suave. He skied competitively and flew helicopters. I spent a weekend – post-Ghislaine – with him and his next girlfriend, television presenter Tania Bryer, and remember Cicogna as the perfect gentleman; charming, good-looking, with impeccable manners. As it would have been inconceivable to consider thug Robert Maxwell as his father-in-law, I imagine that Gianfranco saw Ghislaine – also multi-lingual and proficient skier – as great fun. But a good-time girl for now, as opposed to a worthy wife for later.
To Ghislaine’s devastation – she had apparently hoped to become Gianfranco’s Contessa – he ended the relationship in 1991, after four years. She was nursing her broken heart when her father fell to his ignominious death.
As is well known, she moved to New York to reinvent herself amidst Manhattan society, reconnected with Epstein and the rest is the stuff of nightmares as they trafficked and abused young girls. While Ghislaine was obviously in love with Epstein, who proved herself indispensable to him, his insatiable appetite for young girls meant that he could not sustain a relationship with her. An old Oxbridge acquaintance of Ghislaine’s, banker Euan Rellie, who saw them in New York at this time recalls: “Ghislaine seemed to be half ex-girlfriend, half employee, half best friend and fixer.”
After Epstein was arrested and pleaded guilty to soliciting and procuring a minor in 2008, spending his first stint in prison, Ghislaine made an effort to publicly distance herself from the disgraced financier who had transferred $30 million into her bank account. She began a long-distance relationship on the west coast of America with her next boyfriend, American billionaire Ted Waitt. The founder of Gateway Computers was a businessman and philanthropist worth around $800 million when Ghislaine started seeing him in 2009.
With her pathological desire to please men, Ghislaine soon made herself indispensable to Waitt who wanted the billionaire bling of a super yacht. She found him the 240-foot yacht and, just as she had decorated and run Epstein’s homes, she undertook the renovation and decoration of the vessel which housed a helicopter pad and crew of 25.
In return, Waitt took her as his “plus one” to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. The tech mogul had given a minimum of $12 million to Bill Clinton’s philanthropic foundations, which ensured that Maxwell went on to maintain a foothold with the former president’s family. According to reports in the New York Times, Waitt’s “cheque-writing helped secure her a place at conferences as they replaced benefit galas as the first-tier social gatherings”.
It was also from Plan B, where Ghislaine had a submarine installed, that she began deep-sea diving. She saw the human-made debris over the ocean floor, which precipitated her own attempts at philanthropic rehabilitation when she founded the TerraMar Project, an environmental nonprofit organisation, after she and Waitt split up in 2011.
Which brings us to her curious secret wedding to another American tech millionaire, Scott Borgerson, 16 years her junior. Ghislaine met the ex-military man via their mutual interest in ocean preservation at, yes, a conference in Iceland in 2013. Married at the time with two children, he left his wife, Rebecca, for Maxwell and for a while they appeared to live at his sprawling seaside mansion in Massachusetts.
In 2018 they were spotted together at the pinnacle of power-broking, the Jeff Bezos campfire conference in Santa Barbara. Yet in 2019, Ghislaine moved to Tuckedaway, the secluded home in New Hampshire where she was arrested by the FBI the following year. She had allegedly transferred $20 million to Borgerson’s bank account, which, it is believed, he later used to try and post bail.
It has since been reported that Borgerson, who once described Ghislaine as “a wonderful and loving person” and who did not attend his wife’s trial, told her via telephone that their marriage was over. But Maxwell’s lawyers stated in a motion that she had discussed divorce with her husband prior to her arrest in order to “protect” him from “being associated with her”. Too late for that. He now keeps a low profile with new yoga-teacher girlfriend, Kris McGinn.
Like all her relationships after her father’s death, this weird alliance appears to have had a financially beneficial basis. For her entire life, Ghislaine Maxwell has endeavoured to please and placate difficult men, with geisha-like acquiescence. She’s basically become the posh paid help for entitled egoists. And always, she has tried to ensure her own financial security and protection from the powerful. And where has it got her? In a prison cell, alone.