A decade ago, he tried to woo Nicholas and Thomas Pritzker, two scions of the family that created the Hyatt Hotel chain, by inviting a top scientist in the field of virtual reality to meet them in New York, according to a person who attended. He contended that billionaires like the Pritzker family needed his advice because he had special insights that could translate the ideas of mathematicians into workable financial strategies. The Pritzkers never considered working with him, according to a person close to the family.
Some of the investment ideas he trumpeted to would-be clients appeared far-fetched. One supposed strategy was to constantly make overnight loans to banks around the world. (There is no sign of Mr. Epstein having actually made any such loans, and it is hard to imagine such a strategy generating substantial profits, since overnight loans generate minuscule interest rates and last for only a matter of hours.)
Yet starting in the 1990s, Mr. Epstein — whose Wall Street experience consisted of a five-year stint at the investment bank Bear Stearns — managed to build a small but powerful finance network.
Mr. Black, the Apollo founder, was a widely respected figure on Wall Street when he met Mr. Epstein in the late 1990s. Before long, Mr. Black had entrusted Mr. Epstein with periodically providing a variety of tax and estate-planning services, according to a person close to Mr. Black. It was an unlikely assignment: Armies of lawyers and accountants have expertise in those fields; Mr. Epstein did not.
Over the next 15 or so years, including after Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in 2008, Mr. Black met with Mr. Epstein at his palatial townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, according to people who were there