Epstein’s Caribbean islands drawing tourists after his death | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Epstein’s Caribbean islands drawing tourists after his death

Associated Press
1543485_web1_1543485-65af95ed17e5498dadfbb775c408d09e
A man stands near a U.S. flag at half staff on Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Tourists and locals alike are powering up boats to take a closer look at a place nicknamed “Pedophile Island’ that lies just off the southeast coast of St. Thomas. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)
1543485_web1_1543485-9547868ec7bf405f8b9754d7c62bb403
A security guard stands watch in a gazebo on Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Armed guards and the sharp rocks that lie beneath the turquoise waters around his Caribbean island have long deterred boaters from the area, but curiosity has overcome concern ever since the financier apparently killed himself in jail as he awaited trial in New York on sex trafficking charges. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)
1543485_web1_1543485-5d9a98e37b9c4777ba6ecd6b964c9868
A view of Jeffrey Epstein’s stone mansion on Little St. James Island, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, is backdropped by St. John Island, Wednesday, August 14, 2019. Federal authorities consider Little St. James Island to have been Epstein’s primary residence in the United States, a place where at least one alleged victim said in a court affidavit that she participated in an orgy as well as had sex with Epstein and other people. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)
1543485_web1_1543485-ea58e13cab374e68a3b9783e08a0e279
A blue-striped structure sits on a lookout point on Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Epstein bought Little St. James Island more than two decades ago and built a stone mansion with cream-colored walls on one end of it. Surrounding it are several other structures including the maids’ quarters and the huge, square-shaped, blue-striped building on the other end of the island that workers told each other was a music room fitted with a grand piano and acoustic walls. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)
1543485_web1_1543485-0b546197986e40f4bc33d50e7692733a
A man drives a utility task vehicle on Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Only a handful of Epstein’s employees were seen kicking up dust as they drove around in UTV’s on an island that once boasted dozens of workers and several armed security guards. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)
1543485_web1_1543485-dee461762b6747f287f7f69f18dd7271
A man walks on Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein, Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Jeffrey Epstein’s armed guards and the sharp rocks that lie beneath the turquoise waters glistening around his Caribbean island have long deterred boaters from the area, but curiosity has overcome concern ever since the financier apparently killed himself in jail as he awaited trial in New York on sex trafficking charges. (AP Photo/Gabriel Lopez Albarran)

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — Jeffrey Epstein’s armed guards and the sharp rocks that lie beneath the turquoise waters glistening around his Caribbean island have long deterred boaters from the area, but curiosity has overcome concern since the financier apparently killed himself in jail as he awaited trial in New York on sex trafficking charges.

Tourists and locals alike are powering up boats to take a closer look at a place nicknamed “Pedophile Island” that lies just off the southeast coast of St. Thomas. Among the attractions are two huge white-and-yellow cockatiel statues that stand guard at the top of a set of stairs near the dock, as well as a life-size Holstein-Friesian cow statue that locals say was moved to a different spot weekly and sometimes even daily while Epstein lived there.

“No one used to pay attention to it,” Jon Stewart, the owner of a charter boat company, said Wednesday. Now, “there’s a ton more tourists.”

Federal authorities consider Little St. James Island to have been Epstein’s primary residence in the United States, a place where at least one alleged victim said in a court affidavit that she participated in an orgy as well as had sex with Epstein and other people.

Curiosity in St. Thomas peaked this week as a group of FBI agents descended on Little St. James Island and carried away what locals say were several large items from one of two islands that the 66-year-old Epstein owned.

“Now everyone is wondering what really happened to him and what’s going to happen to the island,” said Yvonne Light, a store manager who spied the federal agents while she watched a movie with her husband aboard their boat. “I was surprised to see them.”

An FBI spokesman said the agency would not be issuing any statements, but confirmed it was conducting what he called a “court-authorized law enforcement activity.”

On a recent afternoon, only a handful of Epstein’s employees were seen kicking up dust as they drove around in all-terrain vehicles picking up brown palm fronds on an island that once boasted dozens of workers and several armed security guards. Locals recalled that some of the guards would come to the water’s edge if there were snorkelers in the area, but Wednesday a lone armed guard only shielded his face from a photographer with a bright green umbrella.

It takes roughly 15 minutes to get to Little St. James Island by boat, and those who are unable to do so have wondered about Epstein’s property since it is not visible from many spots in St. Thomas.

Dean Bofenkamp, who was visiting from Youngstown, Ohio, to attend his son’s basketball game, said he was craning his neck to catch a glimpse while on the plane to St. Thomas.

“I was just curious where it was,” he said.

Epstein bought Little St. James Island more than two decades ago and built a stone mansion with cream-colored walls and a bright turquoise roof on one end of it. Surrounding it are several other structures including the maids’ quarters and a huge, square-shaped white building on the other end of the island that workers told each other was a music room fitted with a grand piano and acoustic walls. Its gold dome blew off during the deadly 2017 hurricane season.

He bought neighboring Great St. James Island in recent years but had not yet built anything on it.

Many in St. Thomas are debating what should be done with the structures and even the islands themselves, even though it is unclear who would inherit them. Some people in St. Thomas say the buildings on the smaller island should be turned into a school while others believe the sweeping ocean views should serve another purpose.

“A hotel would be a nice thing,” mused Trevor Downes, a retiree from Oregon. “It would help the economy. They need work here.”

Taxi driver John Richards, who said he was upset that Epstein is dead because he wanted the billionaire to face trial, feels there is only one appropriate solution for Epstein’s property: “I believe the victims should get part of the island.”

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.