Mr. Epstein became ubiquitous in Ohio. His black contact book filled up with phone numbers with the Columbus 614 area code. It included dozens of numbers for Mr. Wexner, his staff, and the leaders of L Brands – even a couple of local doctors. Epstein, who was to fly in and out of Columbus on his private plane, became a firm fixture at Mr. Wexner's parties and an annual collector of the Wexner Arts Center, which includes a lunch at home in the billionaire's home.
When Mr. Wexner celebrated his 59th birthday with a mansion's dinner party, serving as a ceremonial master, bowls and introduced guests, according to a person attending.
Mr. Epstein was deeply involved in Mr. Wexner's exclusive property development in New Albany, about 15 kilometers outside Columbus. He set up shop in the same center of Columbus skyscraper as Jack Kessler, co-founder of New Albany Company and one of Mr. Wexner's close friends. Mr. Kessler refused to comment.
Inside the New Albany development, a 23-room, 10,600-square-foot mansion with pool and bath house for Mr. Kessler and his wife was built showing property records. But Mr. Wexner legally controlled the property, and in 1992 Mr. Epstein bought it for $ 3.5 million.
In 1998, another unit associated with Mr. Wexner bought the property back from Mr. Epstein for $ 8 million, more than doubling his investment. The rated value of the home has not changed over the past two decades, according to Franklin County Treasurer, which today shows the value of $ 7.8 million.
About the same time, Mr. Epstein, through a separate company, spent $ 7.95 million to buy Little St. James Island on the US Virgin Islands, which would eventually become one of his primary residences.