EXCLUSIVE: Former Prince’s Foundation vice-chair Eileen Guggenheim, now dean of the New York Academy of Arts, is alleged by a former student to have introduced her to Epstein, who later abused her
A former aide to Prince Charles has denied claims by a victim of Jeffrey Epstein that she introduced her to the billionaire paedophile.
Former Prince’s Foundation vice-chair Eileen Guggenheim, now dean of the New York Academy of Arts, is claimed by a former student to have introduced her to Epstein, who later abused her.
Lawyers for Guggenheim have vehemently denied the accusations.
Maria Farmer, 50, alleges she flew to his New Mexico ranch in 1995 for a study trip where she was encouraged to flirt with him as he was a big NYAA donor.
She claims she and her younger sister, Annie, were later abused by him and his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.
A report by the NYAA insists Guggenheim, 69, played “no role” in introducing the Farmers to Epstein, concluding there was “no evidence to credibly support” her claims.
Another student who went to Epstein’s Zorro Ranch in Santa Fe in 1995 said the young women were pressured to play games that involved “sexual objects” with Epstein and Maxwell. Guggenheim denied being present.
Three ex-students confirmed the meeting, one calling it the “weirdest dinner party I’ve ever been to”. Guggenheim had denied ever being in the ranch.
When Farmer, Ursula Ruedenberg, and one other went public with their claims, Guggenheim said she saw the property under construction but “did not visit any home there or have a meal there”.
Her lawyers said: “Ms Farmer’s claims with regard to the ranch are inconsistent and have changed over time.
“Ms Guggenheim’s visit was very brief; she took a tour of the grounds with the former students and left shortly thereafter. That explains her initial failure to recollect having ever travelled to the ranch.
“It was only after seeing a photograph which depicted Ms Guggenheim, Ms Farmer, and three former students during the daylight… on the grounds, that she recalled her brief visit.
She does not recall being inside any building on the property, anything out of the ordinary occurring, nor any of the students reporting an incident to her.
“Ms Farmer has said she found her visit unsettling, which she has attributed to the presence of Epstein and Maxwell.
Notwithstanding her explanations long after the event, in the context of how events transpired, she subsequently accepted a job with Epstein.”
Guggenheim said: “Had any student expressed to me their personal discomfort over actions by Mr Epstein I would have immediately addressed the situation and offered my support. At that time neither I nor anyone at the NYAA had any knowledge of Mr Epstein’s predatory behaviour.”
Farmer claims Guggenheim “asked me to sit on his lap and flirt with him… ‘Do it for the academy, Maria’.”
Guggenheim’s lawyers said: “The allegation Ms Guggenheim encouraged Ms Farmer to flirt and sit on Epstein’s knee is categorically denied and completely baseless.
It is denied Ms Guggenheim had at the material time any knowledge of Ms Farmer meeting Epstein.”
In a report commissioned by the NYAA, lawyer Jim Walden – who was previously the Academy and Guggenheim’s personal lawyer – found there was no evidence linking Guggenheim to any of Epstein’s abuse.
The report said: “It is difficult to give any credence to Farmer’s claim that Guggenheim was in any way responsible for Annie Farmer’s meeting of Epstein or her sexual abuse by Epstein and Maxwell.”
Several NYAA board members quit over the response.
An open letter signed by nearly 100 students and alumni last month slammed its “victim-blaming rhetoric” and a “focus on discrediting Farmer’s testimony rather than delving into Epstein’s involvement with the NYAA board, financial ties to the school or his relationship to Guggenheim”.
The Academy’s executive committee apologised to Farmer and vowed to give £22,650 to a charity for victims of sexual assault.
The board said: “Some conclusions in the report blamed Ms Farmer, and we regret they were included.”