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Billionaire plans to turn Jeffrey Epstein’s islands into luxury resort

A villa on Little St. James Island in 2019. (Marco Bello/Bloomberg News)
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A pair of private islands formerly owned by Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and registered sex offender who died in a Manhattan federal prison in 2019, were sold to a billionaire investor who plans to build a luxury resort on the land where Epstein allegedly trafficked children.

The islands — named Great St. James and Little St. James but dubbed “Pedophile Island” and “Orgy Island” by locals — were sold to billionaire Stephen Deckoff via an investment vehicle, SD Investments LLC, the firm said in a statement.

Deckoff “plans to develop a state-of-the-art, five-star, world-class luxury 25-room resort” on the land in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the statement said, adding that the resort is expected to open in 2025.

The pair of islands sold for a combined total of $60 million, according to Bespoke Real Estate, which had listed the 230 acres of land. The sale nearly amounted to a buy-one-get-one-free deal: The islands had previously been listed for $55 million each, which was a decrease from the reported original listing price of $125 million for the pair. Despite the steep discount, the sale was the “highest-priced trade in the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Bespoke Real Estate said.

Acknowledging the land’s unsavory past, the statement noted the islands were previously owned by Epstein, adding that “a significant portion of the sale proceeds” were to be paid to the government of the Virgin Islands per a settlement between the government and Epstein’s estate.

Deckoff, who has a net worth of about $3 billion according to Forbes, which first reported the sale, founded the investment firm Black Diamond Capital Management in 1995, according to the firm’s website.

Under the settlement, which was announced by the Virgin Islands Department of Justice in December, half of the proceeds from the sale of Little St. James, “the island on which Epstein resided and on which many of his crimes occurred,” are to be paid to the government of the Virgin Islands. The proceeds are in addition to a $105 million payment and another $450,000 payment “to remediate environmental damage around Great St. James,” where Epstein “razed the remains of centuries’-old historical structures of enslaved workers to make room for his development.”

The proceeds from the sale of the island will be used by the government to fund projects and counseling programs that “help Virgin Islands residents or inhabitants who are victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, sexual misconduct, and child sexual abuse,” the Virgin Islands Justice Department said.

Lawsuit says Jeffrey Epstein trafficked and abused girls on his private island as recently as 2018

Epstein, who also faced allegations of sex trafficking in New York and Florida, used private planes, helicopters and boats to bring underage girls and women to his islands, according to a lawsuit against his estate filed by Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George in 2020.

Though Little St. James was already secluded — nearly two miles from St. Thomas, a popular vacation destination, and accessible only by boat or helicopter — Epstein sought further privacy, buying Great St. James in an effort to stop visitors to that island from witnessing what was transpiring on the adjacent one, the lawsuit alleged.