The Museum of Modern Art in New York (Bit Boy/Flickr)

Billionaire investor and art collector Leon Black, chairman of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, is expected to be subpoenaed in the Virgin Islands in connection to his business dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Denise N. George, the attorney general of the US Virgin Islands, announced on Thursday, August 20, that she would issue a civil subpoena to Black, his private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and other entities connected to him, including those that manage his vast art collection.

The subpoenas will seek financial statements and tax returns from Black’s companies as part of a greater effort to clear the mystery of how Epstein had amassed his incredible wealth (he had an estate of more than $600 million and luxurious properties around the world). Black Family Partners and Elysium Management, two companies that oversee Black’s $9 billion fortune, will also be examined. There’s still no information on when the subpoenas will be served. 

MoMA and Apollo have not responded to Hyperallergic’s requests for comment.

Black is one of several high-profile art world figures who have had documented associations with Epstein. In 2019, the New York Times reported that Black had addressed his relationship with the sex offender in a letter to his employees, a quarterly earnings conference call, and a letter to investors in the firm’s funds. He divulged that Epstein provided him with advice on tax strategy, estate planning, and philanthropy, but emphasized that Apollo “has never done any business with Mr. Epstein at any point in time.” 

Jeffrey Epstein’s Little St James estate in the Virgin Islands (via Wikimedia Commons)

“I was completely unaware of, and am deeply troubled by, the conduct that is now the subject of the federal criminal charges brought against Mr. Epstein,” Black said at the time.

According to the Times, Black and his companies paid millions in fees to Southern Trust Company, which Epstein registered in the Virgin Islands in 2013. Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail last summer while awaiting his trial on sex trafficking charges, reported to local authorities that his company is developing a “DNA data-mining service” but added that it would have a “financial arm,” according to the Times’s report.

The New York Post reported last year that Black hired Epstein as the only non-family director of his charity organization, the Debra and Leon Black Family Foundation, for more than a decade. According to the report, Epstein served on the board through the end of 2012, four years after he pleaded guilty to two charges of soliciting prostitution, one involving a minor, in 2008.

The Times reports that in 2015, a company tied to the Black’s family foundation donated $10 million to one of Epstein’s charities. Epstein had also convinced Black to donate $5 million to the MIT Media Lab and millions more to Harvard University.

That same year, Epstein was seen at a lavish pool party at Black’s Hamptons estate, according to the Post.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...