- by Mark Hookham and Will Stewart, Daily Mail
Paedophile Jeffrey Epstein arranged for three young women to meet Prince Andrew at his notorious New York mansion, a former model who was part of the billionaire's inner circle claimed last night.
The women, who were all in their early 20s, were told to "dress up beautifully" for the meetings with the Duke of York at the tycoon's £60 million (NZD $121 million) home, she claimed in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday.
At least two of the alleged meetings are believed to have been during Andrew's now-infamous stay with the convicted sex offender in December 2010.
If true, the claims would undermine Andrew's account of the six-day trip which has plagued him for almost a decade and ultimately led to his withdrawal from public life.
In his disastrous Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis last year, Andrew insisted that the "sole purpose" of the visit was to cut ties with Epstein.
Many were astonished by his claim and questions were raised about why he needed to stay at the mansion at all – and why he stayed for so long.
Celebrities and models frequented the mansion
The comings and goings of a string of glamorous women and celebrities, including Woody Allen, also raised eyebrows. Now one woman, who was so close to Epstein that she was in the financier's Upper East Side townhouse at the same time as Andrew, has broken her silence to reveal her version of events.
It is the first time a source close to the paedophile, who was found dead in his New York jail cell last year, has given an account of what happened during Andrew's stay in Manhattan.
In bombshell testimony, the insider, who we have agreed not to name, claimed:
• The Duke treated Epstein's house "like it was his" and stayed in an opulent bedroom that was dubbed "Room Britannica"
• Epstein used Andrew to "attract women" to his home and as a "promotion tool" to rebuild his reputation after serving 13 months in jail following his conviction for sex offences in 2008
• The tycoon falsely promised young women that their "reward" for meeting the Duke would be a "bright career future, powerful connections and money"
• Andrew asked one of the women whether she had a boyfriend
• Epstein bragged about watching the film The King's Speech with Andrew in an exclusive screening at his home before its UK release
• Andrew may have had his feet massaged by a woman while watching the Oscar-winning movie starring Colin Firth, which depicts how his grandfather, King George VI, battled to overcome a stammer.
A spokesman for the Duke last night declined to comment.
The claims come after the Mail on Sunday (MoS) disclosed in March details of an explosive book by US lawyer Bradley Edwards, who has represented a number of Epstein's victims, including Prince Andrew's accuser Virginia Roberts.
Virginia Roberts has spoken out against Prince Andrew and his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo / Supplied
His book showed how US prosecutors "conspired" with Epstein's lawyers to hide the scale of his child sex abuse. Andrew has been accused of sleeping with Miss Roberts – allegations he has repeatedly and strenuously denied.
The new claims today will pile pressure on Andrew, who has been accused of failing to co-operate with an FBI probe into Epstein's sex trafficking ring. Our source was close to Epstein for several years and, like many of the women in his orbit, is from a former Eastern Bloc country, which the MoS has chosen not to name to protect her. She claims not to be one of his victims although, over the course of successive interviews, she made it clear she was terrified of him.
"I still have nightmares that he is alive and knows that I communicate with reporters," she said.
What was the Duke really doing staying at Epstein's?
During Andrew's disastrous BBC interview in November, he said that he stayed in Epstein's palatial 71st Street home because it was a "convenient place to stay" and it was "honourable" to end his friendship with the financier in person.
The Queen's second son likened the 21,000 sq ft mansion to a railway station due to the fact that "there were people coming in and out of that house all the time".
Pushed on why he stayed at the home of a convicted sex offender, he said: "Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together."
The insider, however, believes Epstein asked Andrew to New York – and then invited a number of young women to meet him.
"I think that it was Epstein who invited Andrew to NYC," she told the MoS. "The girls were going to Epstein's house specifically to meet Andrew, not just Epstein. I think Andrew was incredibly useful for him as a promotion tool. He had just left jail, and to show a guest of such a level was perfect for his social capital. He was telling everyone that the prince was in the city."
The source has named three women – all in their early 20s – who she says were specifically invited to meet the Duke. The MoS has seen evidence that at least two of the women – and possibly all three – visited the mansion during his stay at Epstein's home in December 2010.
"Before they came, they were asked to get dressed beautifully, and as a reward they were promised a bright career future, powerful connections and money," the source said.
"Andrew asked one of the girls if she had a boyfriend."
The source claims the women would have waited in a room known as the Oval Office on the ground floor of the mansion beforehand. "Girls were coming at different times – it was a lot like a private viewing," she added.
One of the three women named by the insider was Latvian-born model, Lana Zakocela, who has worked for Victoria's Secret, the company owned by Epstein's only known financial client, Les Wexner.
The Mail on Sunday has agreed not to identify the other two women named by the source.
Miss Zakocela, 32, was photographed arriving at the townhouse at 3.46pm on December 6. At 4.30pm on the same day, Andrew was filmed peering from the door of the mansion and waving to Katherine Keating, the daughter of former Australian prime minister Paul Keating. Miss Keating is not one of the women named by the source.
From her luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills, Miss Zakocela said she was told to go to Epstein's mansion by her agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who had close ties with the financier.
Miss Zakocela, who is now a "health and wellness adviser", described attending a gathering at the house but does not remember meeting Prince Andrew or even whether he was there.
"Jean-Luc he would say, 'You, you and you… you're going here'. And we would go to these things. They happened all the time – it was part of business. There were other girls there and there were Jeffrey's friends – men and women.
"I don't remember the names. I don't know if Andrew was there. I didn't know who he was."
She added: "I only met Jeffrey once or twice. What people won't say is that he was nice, he was intelligent, he was good fun. He never behaved badly with me."
On December 2, four days before Miss Zakocela's visit, Andrew is believed to have been the guest of honour at a dinner organised in the mansion by PR guru and party host Peggy Siegal.
In the following days, a string of people were seen leaving the property including Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn, and Susan Hamblin, a confidante of Epstein.
Speaking to Vanity Fair magazine earlier this year, Ms Siegal said Epstein had asked her to arrange guests for the party – on the day of the event. She wanted to be involved, she added, because she was promoting The King's Speech, which was being released in the UK the following month and which was later crowned Best Film at the Oscars.
"I thought it was strange that someone who had a prince in his house as a houseguest couldn't figure out a few people to invite for dinner," she said. "On the other hand, I had my own selfish reasons because I wanted to tell Andrew about The King's Speech."
A private film screening and foot massages
The MoS source claimed Andrew and Epstein watched the film together in a private screening probably organised for them by Siegal.
"I know Epstein and Andrew watched The King's Speech together before the official release, because Epstein was sharing with us how fascinating it was for him to watch the movie with Andrew," she said.
"I think it was Peggy Siegal who shared all the movies with him before they were released."
The source claims that Epstein – who she said had a home cinema in a loft room on the top floor of the mansion – would insist on having his feet massaged while he watched films and believes Andrew may also have had one too.
"Whenever Epstein watched a movie, he requested girls to give him and his guests a foot massage," she said. "I am pretty certain Andrew was given the same treatment. It is unlikely they watched the movie alone and without a massage."
It emerged last year that an influential literary agent had claimed he saw Epstein and Andrew being given foot massages by two Russian women. John Brockman claimed the Duke – introduced to him as "Andy" – complained that, unlike him, Prince Albert of Monaco was able to go out and "does whatever he wants, and nobody cares".
"At that point I realised the recipient of… [the] foot massage was Prince Andrew, Duke of York," he told a client in an email exchange published in a US magazine. Andrew denied the claim last year during his Newsnight interview.
The source said one of the three women she claims were invited to meet the Duke was regularly ordered to give foot massages in Epstein's New York home.
She described a "hierarchy" of young women around Epstein and how those who had little or no modelling experience – or came from poorer backgrounds – were forced to give foot massages by Epstein.
But a source close to Prince Andrew said: "This has all the hallmarks of a campaign that's been waged against the Duke for more than a decade. There's never any allegation of criminality, just insinuation he's somehow done something 'wrong'. In short, it is yet another attempt to traduce the Duke.
"To deliberately conflate serious cases of wrongdoing by Epstein with whether or not the Duke enjoyed a foot massage a decade ago is both misleading and counterproductive to justice."
A room fit for a royal
Despite the steady thoroughfare of guests coming and going at the property, the source claims Epstein rarely invited friends to stay over in his house for extended periods.
Andrew, however, was an exception. The Duke would stay in a room decorated like a royal residence on the third floor, she claimed.
She described how it had dark green walls, long curtains and a marble bathroom. The second floor of the mansion, she said, was "Epstein's personal floor".
"I think it was Epstein who told me that the room was decorated just like Andrew's palace, with dark green walls and a certain type of curtains. The room was even nicknamed Room Britannica. Epstein hosted plenty of guests.
"He loved to brag about his beautiful houses and how rich he is. If he himself stayed in the house for a month, then guests stayed for a day or two. All of them had to come for a short visit. It was different with Andrew – because he was a prince."
She added: "It seems to me that Epstein used Prince Andrew to attract women." The source claimed Andrew was perfectly at home in the huge townhouse.
"Andrew behaved like he felt himself at home there, he was even going to the kitchen where people were cooking meals... he moved around the house like it was his."
Epstein effectively ran a cult
The source described how Epstein effectively ran a cult. For years she accepted his outrageous lie that he had only once been involved with an underage girl, and that was because he had been tricked by a fake ID document. She now, however, concedes that her former friend "crippled many lives".
Epstein's death last year emboldened the source to discuss the tycoon's relationship with Andrew.
"I am ready to share my thoughts and my memories. I have notes from the past, and there is a desire to share," she said. "There was definitely a cult. We were scared of him and there wasn't even a thought we could have done something that he would not like. Not a thought."
Last night David Boies, a lawyer who represents more than a dozen women who say they were abused by Epstein, questioned the Duke's claim that he visited the financier to break off their friendship.
"One suspects, given the length of time he was there, it was a trip like any other trip," he said.
- Additional reporting: Valeria Sukhova and Daniel Bates