Hush Funds

MIT Media Lab Hid Donations From Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein

Lab director Joi Ito has resigned in the wake of a bombshell report.

9. 9. 19 by Kristin Houser
MIT/Victor Tangermann
Image by MIT/Victor Tangermann

In late August, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came clean about accepting what it said amounted to $800,000 in donations from recently deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, with MIT President L. Rafael Reif telling staff the money went to either famed MIT physicist Seth Lloyd or the school’s prestigious Media Lab.

But on Friday, The New Yorker published a bombshell report revealing that the amount of money the MIT Media Lab accepted from Epstein was actually substantially higher — and that the lab’s director Joi Ito went to great lengths to conceal the source of the money.

Drawing from newly obtained e-mails and other documents, as well as interviews with current and former MIT employees, The New Yorker reported that the Media Lab accepted donations from Epstein long after the university dubbed him a “disqualified” donor — by labeling the donations as coming from an anonymous source.

The Media Lab also appears to have used Epstein as a go-between with other donors, including Bill Gates, to secure upwards of $7.5 million in funds. Once again, officials there were careful to leave Epstein’s name off the official record.


To further disguise the Lab’s relationship with Epstein, Ito used only the convicted sex offender’s initials on his calendar, despite typically writing out the full names of those with whom he was meeting, the New Yorker wrote, and staff members in the director’s office often referred to Epstein only as “Voldemort” or “he who must not be named.”

On Saturday, Ito resigned from his post as director, and Reif announced the school’s intention to support an investigation into the New Yorker’s allegations by an independent law firm.

“I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible,” Reif wrote in an email to the MIT community, “and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s governing board.”

Whether that investigation confirms the New Yorker’s findings, disproves them, or even yields new insights into MIT’s relationship with Epstein, it’s clear the institute’s reputation has taken a massive hit in the wake of the sex offender’s death — and all because it wasn’t willing to leave money on the table, even if it came from the most sordid of sources.


READ MORE: How an Elite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship With Jeffrey Epstein [The New Yorker]

More on Jeffrey Epstein: Bizarre MIT Meeting About Jeffrey Epstein Ends in Tears, Yelling

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