And so, with financier and child molester Jeffrey Epstein dead in an apparent suicide, an investigation into his sordid sex life is reported to be shifting toward Alice Rogoff’s old, Iditarod trail mate: Ghislaine Maxwell.
Yes, one of the biggest stories in the country at the moment has an Alaska connection.
“Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell dishes on icy travels” is how the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column reported the Brit’s Iditarod exploits in 2014.
“After interior decorator Geoffrey Bradfield told of a scary car crash in Pakistan, and art collector Stephanie Zuellig discussed the happy cows on her farm in Switzerland,” wrote Richard Johnson, “Maxwell — the daughter of British press baron Robert Maxwell — said she had just returned from Alaska’s Iditarod dog sled race.
“Maxwell traveled across hundreds of miles of icy wilderness to the finish line in Nome, where thousands of fans of ‘the last great race’ cheered on the mushers and their dogs.”
Unmentioned was Mawell’s host, a one time Washington, D.C. socialite turned majority owner of AlaskaDispatch.com, an online news site. Rogoff was at the time of the 2014 Iditarod also in negotiations to buy the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Company, a California-based newspaper chain with big financial troubles that continue to this day.
Rogoff bought the newspaper not long after the Iditarod ended that year and ran it into bankruptcy by the summer of 2017. She has now largely disappeared from the Alaska scene and could not be reached for comment. But her former business partner, Tony Hopfinger, well remembers meeting Maxwell.
The AlaskaDispatch.com co-founder was Rogoff’s business partner, editor of Alaska Dispatch and for a time the editor of Rogoff’s version of ADN.com, which Rogoff renamed Alaska Dispatch News.
In a message in response to questions today, Hopfinger said he encountered Maxwell in the isolated, Bering Sea coastal village of Unalakleet, population 700, when she climbed aboard one of Rogoff’s two, $1 million Cessna 206 aircraft. Rogoff was at the time aboard plane #2 with the pilot and a Dispatch News reporting crew covering the race.
“Maxwell, Kylea (Hopfinger’s fiance), and I flew with (pilot) Paul Anderson to White Mountain,” Hopfinger said. “During the flight, Maxwell bragged about her life, everything from her nonprofit to the places she’d visited to the fact that she knew how to fly a helicopter. Kylea and I sat in the back while she talked to Paul, at times flirting with him. We listened to her and Paul on the plane’s headphones. At one point, she told Paul she learned how to fly helicopters from an ex-boyfriend who had served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and Mossad,” the Israeli intelligence agency.
His description of Maxwell, who has been accused of and denied procuring teenage girls for Epstein, jives in some ways with the accounts of others who describe here as a flirt and more.
“In the early ’90s, at a Joan Rivers dinner party, my wife and I encountered….Maxwell, daughter of disgraced British publishing mogul Robert Maxwell and Epstein’s girlfriend for a brief period in the ’90s,” author Jesse Kornbluth wrote at Salon back in July. “‘If you lose 10 pounds, I’ll fuck you,’ she said, with my wife standing next to me. And she too became dead to me.”
In the late ’80s, Kornbluth earlier noted, he’d been thinking about writing a book about Epstein until the now reportedly dead financier phoned Kornbluth’s house the night before his wedding to tell his wife-to-be that “it’s your last free night. Why don’t you come over and fuck me?”
Hopfinger heard no offers so blatant, but Maxwell, who he described as a “pretentious socialite who couldn’t stop talking about herself,” left him uncomfortable.
“When I got back to Anchorage after the race, I Googled Ghislaine Maxwell and saw her connection to Epstein and his underage sex scandal. I told Alice, and she acted like she didn’t know about this history. Even back then, Epstein was featured prominently in the news, enough so that I had read stories about him and his ‘Lolita Express’ prior to 2014.
“At the time, Alice was about to buy the Daily News. To me, this encounter with Maxwell was yet another example of Alice’s poor judgment….She seemingly met random people and let them into her life, not questioning who they were or where they came from. Because Alice had a lot of money, thanks to her then-husband (David Rubenstein), she was a target for hustlers. Maxwell fit that profile. I told Alice at the time.”
The two never discussed Maxwell again, Hopfinger added, but Rogoff appeared to be undeterred by Maxwell’s Epstein connection. By 2018 with the Dispatch News dead and gone and Hopfinger and Rogoff in court fighting over the $1 million she’d agreed to pay him for his shares in the company, Rogoff was pimping out a questionable Maxwell charity called the TerraMar Project.
“The TerraMar Project was set up to address ‘our’ ownership of the oceans, meaning we all have a responsibility and are equal partners in protecting the areas of ocean that lie outside any one country’s jurisdiction, which is a staggering 64 percent,” Rogoff wrote in an op-ed for the Alaska Natives News.
“Since 2012 they (sic) have grown into an incredibly active non-profit, creating what can only be called a global ocean community. In support of their work, I ask you to sign their passport and join 76,500 other members in their pledge to love our oceans.
“I also suggest you get their newsletter The Daily Catch to stay informed on news and events that affect our rivers, lakes & oceans.”
Rogoff signed the column as “publisher, ArcticToday.com,” a website she spirited out of the Dispatch News when it was in bankruptcy.
The New York Post described TerraMar as “a mysterious do-nothing charity” and said public filings revealed it was “exclusively funded by hundreds of thousands in loans by heiress Ghislaine Maxwell.”
Rogoff employed a similar scheme to fund the ADN as she was driving it into bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy filing – with dozens of small businesses left holding the bag on about $2 million in debt – lawyers for Rogoff claimed she’d loaned the company $23 million to keep it afloat and thus was entitled to more than 90 percent of any funds the U.S. Bankruptcy Court collected from selling off the newspaper’s assets.
Rogoff didn’t back off those claims until Bankruptcy Court Judge Gary Spraker suggested there might be fraud involved in the failure of the state’s largest newspaper. The ADN bankruptcy is not fully settled yet, but a bankruptcy court trustee was able to get Rogoff to agree to pay $1.5 million toward settling her debts.
An Anchorage jury awarded Hopfinger almost $1 million, plus legal fees, in November after his suit against Rogoff went to trial. She was refusing to pay the money and threatening to appeal.
No appeal has been filed, and Hopfinger Monday said “I am no longer in a lawsuit with Alice Rogoff.” He would not say more. He said he signed a confidentiality agreement that forbids him from talking about the case.
By Rogoff spending standards, Maxwell was a bit player at TerraMar. Her Upper East Side New York home doubled as the official office of company, and the Post reported that “she pumped $283,420” – or about $57,000 per year – into TerraMar between 2012 and 2017, adding that “in that time, the so-called charity gave out a total of $874 in grants.”
Rogoff was throwing away more cash than that on the Dispatch News every week, but then she appeared to be playing with Monopoly money in the form of payments from estranged husband, now-former husband, David Rubenstein. The billionaire Rubenstein is one of the richer men in the country.
How exactly Rogoff and Maxwell hooked up is unclear. Hopfinger said Rogoff described Maxwell as “a friend” who “she’d met at some Arctic conferences, including Arctic Circle.”
Maxwell was a presenter at the organizations’ annual gatherings in Rekjavik in 2013 and 2014. She pitched the good works TerraMar was supposedly doing to protect the oceans.
Whether Rogoff and Maxwell knew each other in New York is unclear. Rogoff was resident in the city in the early 2000s while running “Alaska House,” an Alaska Native art gallery she liked to describe as the state’s “embassy” Outside.
It died after the state refused to spend $600,000 to keep it open.
“I did this because I thought it was really important, not just for the state in the big picture but for the sake of village life and subsistence and Native people whose livelihoods are dependent on so much of this state’s economy continuing to flourish,” Rogoff told McClatchy reporter Sean Cockerham at the time. “Well, I can’t afford to keep New York open anymore so we’re either going to close it or we’re going to find funding for it.”
It closed, and Rogoff eventually moved to Alaska where she rose to great heights, entertained many – President Barack Obama had dinner at her Campbell Lake home in 2015 – and then came crashing down. But Rogoff continues to trot the globe preaching some vision of a new Arctic in a warmer world though it is hard to tell exactly what her vision.
Maxwell, meanwhile, has gone missing. She has not been charged with any crimes. Law enforcement authorities are reported to be wanting to interview Maxwell, but can’t find her. The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, Monday reported she told friends in recent weeks that she planned to “totally disappear.”