Jeffrey Epstein threatened to expose an affair Bill Gates allegedly had with a Russian bridge player in 2010 when the Microsoft co-founder declined to join his philanthropic venture, according to a report on Sunday.
The disgraced pedophile, who killed himself in 2019, appeared to threaten Gates over the alleged affair with Russian card-wiz Mila Antonova in a 2017 email, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Gates met Antonova in 2010, with the two playing in a tournament together after she moved to the Bay Area to work as a software engineer, the newspaper said.
While Antonova acknowledged that she was on friendly terms with Gates during a 2010 video about her love of bridge, the two allegedly had a brief romance while Gates was still married to his then-wife, Melinda Gates, sources told the Journal.
Epstein, meanwhile, met Antonova while she was looking for financial backers for a bridge academy.
In the 2017 email, Epstein called on Gates to reimburse him for the cost of investing in Antonova’s coding education, the Journal reported
The message came just after the tech titan declined to join the convicted sex offender’s multi-billion-dollar charity he was trying to kick off with JPMorgan Chase.
“Mr. Gates met with Epstein solely for philanthropic purposes. Having failed repeatedly to draw Mr. Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates,” a spokesperson for Gates said.
The spokesperson added that Gates never paid up over the threat and that he had “no financial dealings” with Epstein.
Antonova told the Journal that she didn’t know who Epstein really was when they met, thinking he was just a “successful businessman and wanted to help.”
“I am disgusted with Epstein and what he did,” Antonova said, while declining to comment on her alleged relationship with Gates.
Following her tournament match with Gates, which resulted in the billionaire’s victory, Antonova was inspired to start her own business venture teaching people to play the game she loved.
Boris Nikolic, a top adviser to Gates at the time, pointed Antonova to Epstein, then a well-connected financier, who agreed to meet her in 2013, sources said.
Although Epstein passed on the project, she said he did agree to help pay for her software engineer studies.
“I don’t know why he did that,” she told the Journal. “When I asked, he said something like, he was wealthy and wanted to help people when he could.”
Epstein also let her stay in his New York City townhouse in November 2014.
Antonova said she did not interact with Epstein or anyone else during the brief stay.
As Epstein’s finance empire began to crumple amid the growing allegations of sex and human trafficking crimes, he appeared to be on damage control and hoped to create a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation with Gates headlining as a big-name donor, sources said.
Epstein allegedly dropped Gates’ name as he worked to secure the foundation with JPMorgan Chase, but Gates and the bank declined to work together with him.
The rejection then triggered the email billing the billionaire for Antonova’s studies, sources told the Journal, suggesting the failed financier was blackmailing Gates.
Gates, Nikolic and JPMorgan Chase have said in statements that they regret ever meeting with Epstein on charitable matters.
“I deeply regret that I ever met Epstein,” Nikolic, who worked with Epstein on philanthropic proposals, told the Journal. “His crimes were despicable. I never saw anything like his illegal behavior. My heart goes out to his victims and their families.”