Soon after Jeffrey Epstein died in August, a mysterious man met with two prominent lawyers. A prodigious drinker who often wore flip-flops, he went by a pseudonym, Patrick Kessler. He told the lawyers he had a vast archive of Epstein’s data, stored on encrypted servers overseas. He said he had years of the financier’s communications and financial records and thousands of hours of footage from hidden cameras in the bedrooms of Epstein’s properties. The videos, Kessler said, captured some of the world’s richest, most powerful men in compromising sexual situations, even in the act of rape, the New York Times reports. If he was telling the truth, his trove could answer one of the Epstein saga’s most baffling questions: How did a college dropout and high school math teacher amass a nine-figure fortune? One persistent theory was that he ran a sprawling blackmail operation.
Kessler’s tale hooked famed litigator David Boies and his friend John Stanley Pottinger. If Kessler was authentic, his videos would arm them with immense leverage over important people. Pottinger referred to a roster of potential targets as the “hot list.” He described hypothetical plans in which the lawyers would pocket 40 percent of the settlements and could extract money from wealthy men. In the end, there would be no damning videos. Boies and Pottinger would go from toasting Kessler as their “whistle-blower” and “informant” to torching him as a “fraudster” and a “spy.” Kessler was a liar, and he wouldn’t expose sexual abuse. What he revealed, the Times says, were “the extraordinary, at times deceitful measures elite lawyers deployed in an effort to get evidence that could be used to win lucrative settlements and keep misconduct hidden, allowing perpetrators to abuse again.” Boies has decried such secret deals as “rich man’s justice.”