Saturday's Times story, however, challenges that premise, saying that beginning in 2011, Gates "met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions -- including at least three times at Mr. Epstein's palatial Manhattan townhouse, and at least once staying late into the night." The Times cited interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship and documents reviewed by the Times. It also reported that employees of Gates' foundation also paid multiple visits to Epstein's mansion and that Epstein spoke with the foundation and JPMorgan Chase about a proposed multibillion-dollar charitable fund.
In response to a request for comment on the Times story, a spokesperson for Gates emailed CNET a statement affirming that Gates met with Epstein and others multiple times to discuss philanthropy and the work of his foundation, "given the prospect of helping catalyze significant increases in charitable giving." But although Epstein "pursued Gates' aggressively," Gates had no business partnership or personal friendship with Epstein, the spokesperson reiterated. "Gates never socialized with Epstein or attended parties with him."
"It's become clear that Epstein misrepresented the nature of his meetings with Gates while also working to insert himself behind the scenes without Gates' knowledge," the statement read. "Over time, Gates and his team realized Epstein's capabilities and ideas were not legitimate and all contact with Epstein was discontinued."
Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein. "Gates recognizes that entertaining Epstein's ideas related to philanthropy gave Epstein an undeserved platform that was at odds with Gates' personal values and the values of his foundation," the spokesperson added.
The New Yorker report, which cites internal MIT records and information from present and former Media Lab faculty and staff, said Epstein secured at least $7.5 million in lab donations, including $2 million from Gates.
Once the world's richest people, the software entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, along with his wife, established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to donate the bulk of their fortune to improving health care and reducing poverty around the world. The foundation has an endowment of nearly $50 billion.
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