A photograph is frequently shared on social media that appears to show convicted sex trafficker and former Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell watching as former U.S. President Bill Clinton walked his daughter, Chelsea, down the aisle at her wedding. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her mother, was also in attendance but is out of frame in the picture.
It's true that this is a real photograph. It's available on the Getty Images licensing website. It has not been doctored and the woman who is circled below in film director Adam McKay's 2019 tweet truly is Maxwell:
A Resurgence in April 2022
The picture was being reshared in response to other social media users (who presumably dislike Musk) sharing a real photograph of him standing near Maxwell at a public event. The photograph of Musk and Maxwell was captured at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2014. Musk later tweeted that he didn't know her and that she had "photobombed" him.
Attendees at Chelsea Clinton's Wedding
A no-fly zone was in place above the Hudson valley and nearby roads were closed as guests arrived in limousines.
Maxwell in Attendance
Weeks prior to the wedding, on June 18, 2010, New York Magazine's Intelligencer reported that Chelsea purportedly had a firm policy on who was to be invited. According to the article, "bride-side sources" said that Chelsea "instituted a strict no-strangers policy" and that "she must personally know every invitee."
Years later, in 2019, Politico published that "a person familiar with the relationship" said that, prior to the 2010 wedding, Chelsea had become close with Maxwell, something that a spokesperson for Clinton later disputed:
Maxwell first grew close with the Clintons after Bill Clinton left office, vacationing on a yacht with Chelsea Clinton in 2009, attending her wedding in 2010, and participating in the Clinton Global Initiative as recently as 2013, years after her name first emerged in accounts of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse.
“Ghislaine was the contact between Epstein and Clinton,” a person familiar with the relationship said. “She ended up being close to the family because she and Chelsea ended up becoming close.” Lawyers for Maxwell did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Clinton disputed the idea that the two women were ever close.
The reference to Epstein being "jailed on sex offenses" referred to his previous time behind bars in 2008 and 2009, prior to the 2010 wedding. A secret plea deal that was reached in 2007 required Epstein to serve 18 months in jail, followed by 12 months of house arrest. He ended up leaving jail after around 13 months. At the time, reports said there were "roughly" 40 girls who had been identified as victims.
On Aug. 10, 2019, after Epstein was arrested again on sex trafficking charges, he was later found dead in his jail cell. An autopsy ruled that it was a suicide by hanging. A wave of new conspiracy theories began following his death.
We previously published a fact check about a picture of Epstein with former President Clinton. It also was an authentic photograph. The picture had been published in a digital copy of the March 2003 edition of Vanity Fair:
Barnard, Anne. “What Charges Did Jeffrey Epstein Face?” The New York Times, 2 Dec. 2021. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/02/nyregion/jeffrey-epstein-charges.html.
“Chelsea Clinton Marries Marc Mezvinsky In Rhinebeck, New York.” Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/in-this-handout-image-provided-by-genevieve-de-manio-former-news-photo/103183722.
“Chelsea Clinton Marries Marc Mezvinsky on Elite Estate.” BBC News, 1 Aug. 2010, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-10828516.
Coaston, Jane, et al. “The Life and Death of Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein, Explained.” Vox, 3 Dec. 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/12/3/18116351/jeffrey-epstein-case-indictment-arrested-trump-clinton.
Gramenz, Jack. “Elon Musk Defends Photo with Ghislaine Maxwell, Claiming He Was ‘Photobombed.’” News.com.au, 5 July 2020, https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/elon-musk-defends-photo-with-ghislaine-maxwell-claiming-he-was-photobombed/news-story/e36a769f65b00f4da5ea22763bdc3ae1.
“Jeffrey Epstein’s Secret Deal with Federal Prosecutors.” CBS12.com, 18 Sept. 2009, https://cbs12.com/news/jeffrey-4721218-deal-prosecutors.html.
Mazzei, Patricia, and William K. Rashbaum. “Jeffrey Epstein, Financier Long Accused of Molesting Minors, Is Charged.” The New York Times, 7 July 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/06/nyregion/jeffrey-epstein-arrested-sex-trafficking.html.
Sarnoff, Conchita. “Jeffrey Epstein, Billionaire Pedophile, Goes Free.” The Daily Beast, 20 July 2010, https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/07/20/jeffrey-epstein-billionaire-pedophile-goes-free.
Schreckinger, Ben, and Daniel Lippman. “Meet the Woman Who Ties Jeffrey Epstein to Trump and the Clintons.” POLITICO, 21 July 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/21/jeffrey-epstein-trump-clinton-1424120.
Shafrir, Doree. “Where Will Chelsea Clinton Wed? And Who’s Invited?” New York Magazine Intelligencer, 18 June 2020, https://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/66792/.
Sisak, Michael R., et al. “Jeffrey Epstein Struck a Secret Deal in 2008. Here’s What It Means for the Current Case.” Global News, The Associated Press, 11 July 2019, https://globalnews.ca/news/5484171/jeffrey-epstein-plea-deal-impact/.