Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender, reportedly had knowledge of an alleged affair between Microsoft founder Bill Gates and a Russian athlete, and threatened to expose it, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Sources familiar with an email from Epstein to Gates, as reported by the WSJ, suggested that Epstein used his knowledge of Gates' alleged romantic involvement with Mila Antonova, a Russian bridge player, as leverage to maintain ties with the tech mogul.
Gates allegedly met Antonova around 2010 at a bridge tournament. The WSJ report highlights a 2010 YouTube video in which Antonova spoke about playing against Gates, saying, "I didn't beat him, but I tried to kick him with my leg."
Introduced to Epstein through Boris Nikolic, a top science advisor and confidant to Gates, Antonova was seeking funding for an online bridge-teaching business venture. While Epstein did not invest in her project, he agreed to finance her coding school education in 2014 when she decided to switch careers.
Antonova mentioned to WSJ that Epstein's reasoning for his generosity was simply that he "was wealthy and wanted to help people when he could." However, she maintained that she was oblivious of Epstein's criminal background when they met.
In 2017, Epstein reportedly reached out to Gates regarding Antonova, demanding reimbursement for her coding school fees, implying a threat to disclose Gates' alleged affair. Despite this, a representative for Gates vehemently denied any financial transaction between Gates and Epstein, affirming that their encounters were "solely for philanthropic purposes."
Nikolic suggested that Epstein's move could have been a reaction to his failed attempt to establish a multi-billion dollar charitable fund, for which Gates was expected to be a major contributor. Both JPMorgan Chase and Gates declined Epstein's proposal. Nikolic expressed deep regret over his association with Epstein, stating, "I never saw anything like his illegal behavior."
While Antonova saw Epstein as a "successful businessman [who] wanted to help," she now expressed her disgust with him and his actions.
Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 for procuring a child for prostitution, faced charges again in 2019 for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. His death in jail on August 10, 2019, was ruled a suicide by hanging.