Billionaire Leon Black Retires As Report Finds He Paid $158 Million to Jeffrey Epstein

Billionaire Leon Black is retiring as CEO of the private equity company he co-founded after a report revealed that he paid Jeffrey Epstein $158 million after the pedophile's conviction.

Lawyers for his firm Apollo said the money was paid between 2012 and 2017 for "legitimate advice," but found no evidence Black was "involved in any way with Mr. Epstein's criminal activities."

The sum is far higher than originally reported, with claims in The New York Times last year suggesting he had paid $75 million to Epstein.

Black said in a statement: "Given the extraordinary strength and depth of Apollo's management team and consistent with best-in-class governance practices, I have advised the Apollo board that I will retire as CEO on or before my 70th birthday in July and remain as chairman."

Black, also chairman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, hired Epstein for "advice on trust and estate planning, tax issues, issues relating to artwork, Black's airplane, Black's yacht and other similar matters, philanthropic issues and the operation of the Family Office," according to the report.

Newsweek has contacted MoMA for comment.

Jeffrey Epstein at Mar-a-Lago club in Florida
Jeffrey Epstein pictured at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 12, 2000. Leon Black paid him $158 million dollars between 2012 and 2017, after his criminal conviction. Davidoff Studios/Getty

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution and solicitation of prostitution.

He died in an apparent suicide in August 2019 while in jail awaiting new charges. Multiple survivors have spoken out about the abuse they suffered at his hands.

The report states: "Black was aware of Epstein's guilty plea and understood from Epstein that these offenses arose out of a single instance in which Epstein had received a massage from a 17-year-old prostitute.

"According to Black, Epstein had told him that the woman had shown Epstein false identification suggesting she was not underage.

"Black had no client relationship with Epstein at the time."

The payments from Black began four years after Epstein's conviction and ended because the pair fell out when Black refused to pay tens of millions of dollars Epstein felt he was owed, the report said.

Epstein bought shares in Apollo but did not invest in any of the company's funds.

The report reads: "Black compensated Epstein for his work in amounts that were intended to be proportional to the value provided by Epstein. Those payments for work performed over the period 2012 through 2017 totaled $158 million.

"In 2013, payments were memorialized in signed and unsigned agreements.

"After that point, payments were made on an ad hoc basis based on Black's perceived value of Epstein's work.

Dechert, the law firm that produced the report on behalf of Apollo, "has seen no evidence suggesting that Black ever compensated Epstein for any service other than Epstein's legitimate advice on trust and estate planning, tax issues, issues relating to artwork, Black's airplane, Black's yacht and other similar matters, philanthropic issues and the operation of the Family Office."

The report states: "Epstein made repeated efforts to ingratiate himself with other senior executives at Apollo and appears to have relied on Black to help him make those introductions.

"Despite these efforts, Dechert has seen no evidence of any other Apollo executive ever retaining Epstein for his services."