The islands were sold for a total of $60 million, with portions of the proceeds being used to fund environmental remediation and anti-trafficking initiatives.
Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Stephen Deckoff recently purchased the two private islands that once belonged to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. The properties were sold through an entity called SD Investments and are named Little St. James and Great St. James. Located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, they were used by Epstein as venues for trafficking minors.
Epstein was eventually registered as a sex offender and died in a Manhattan federal prison in 2019. As expected, the island’s dark history tainted their reputation since the shocking revelation.
However, Deckoff intends to rectify the wrongs that have been committed, promising to turn the properties into a 25-room luxury resort that would “help bolster tourism, create jobs, and spur economic development in the region, while respecting and preserving the important environment of the islands,” as written in an article by Fortune.
The 230-acre private properties had an initial asking price of $125 million in 2022, but later experienced reductions that would drop their price to $60 million. That said, they’re still considered to be the “highest-priced trade in the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” according to Bespoke Real Estate (the firm that managed the islands’ listing).
Besides using the islands as a venue for illicit activities, Epstein also damaged remnants of centuries-old historical structures to make way for his development.
As such, part of the sales proceeds for Little St. James will go to the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to remediate the environmental damage. Additional $105 million and $450,000 payments were also made to fix the damage Epstein did to Great St. James.
Portions of the proceeds will also be used to fund government-aided projects and counseling programs for victims of sexual misconduct, abuse, assault, and trafficking.
According to a former attorney general of the Virgin Islands, the payout is meant to “restore” the faith of the locals. “We are sending a clear message that the Virgin Islands will not serve as a haven for human trafficking,” they told Fortune magazine.
The Right Man for the Job
Deckoff has a net worth of around $3 billion, according to Forbes. The billionaire has lived in the Virgin Islands for over a decade and is the founder of Black Diamond Capital Management—an investment firm worth $9 billion. On top of his impressive portfolio, the tycoon is known for his ability to transform distressed situations into successful enterprises.
“I’ve been proud to call the U.S. Virgin Islands home for more than a decade and am tremendously pleased to be able to bring the area a world-class destination befitting its natural grace and beauty,” shared Deckoff in a press release. “I very much look forward to working with the U.S. Virgin Islands to make this dream a reality.”
Banner photo by Navin75 via Wikimedia Commons.