Jeffrey Epstein was a key cause for tensions at the highest of Apollo Global Management that just lately spurred the exit of two of its three remaining co-founders — and the awkwardness started a decade in the past, The Post has realized.
It was in 2011 that billionaire Leon Black — who on March 22 revealed he was stepping down from the helm of the large buyout agency before anticipated amid controversy over his Epstein ties — first floated the concept of working with the now-dead pedophile to his fellow co-founders Josh Harris and Marc Rowan, in accordance to sources shut to the scenario.
That’s even if Epstein had been convicted three years earlier for soliciting prostitution from a 14-year-old woman. In the meantime, Black had continued to affiliate with him — and was prodding Harris and Rowan to hire Epstein to do some work for them and presumably for Apollo, in accordance to the sources.
“Leon affirmatively recommended Epstein — it was more than a passing comment,” one supply mentioned. “He wanted Apollo to hire him.”
Harris and Rowan — repelled by Epstein and anxious about injury to Apollo’s status — mentioned no, and the conversations by no means superior, in accordance to the sources. Nevertheless, tensions between the co-founders over Epstein — significantly between Black and Harris — endured, and have become a key challenge as Black introduced his shock exit from the agency in March.
Last week, Harris mentioned he was exiting the agency, leaving Rowan, the only remaining co-founder, to function chairman and chief government.
“These assertions, made by an unnamed source, are completely untrue,” mentioned a spokesman for Black.
“Apollo never discussed or considered hiring Jeffrey Epstein,” an Apollo spokesman mentioned.
According to sources, nonetheless, Black had been pitching Harris and Rowan on Epstein’s prowess when it comes to tax- and estate-planning — the identical companies for which, it was revealed earlier this year, Black had racked up an eye-popping tab of $158 million with Epstein. Beyond that, insiders mentioned Black was signaling that Apollo may hire Epstein as a advisor on investments — or presumably enter into investments with him, the sources mentioned.
Black, regardless of being turned down by Rowan and Harris, “doesn’t like taking ‘No’ for an answer,” in accordance to a supply briefed on the scenario. And for years he continued to float doing numerous tasks with Epstein to his cohorts at Apollo.
That, in flip, helped heighten tensions between the three executives — significantly Black and Harris, who had been locked in a rising energy battle as Harris steadily took on extra day-to-day tasks working the $455 billion private-equity powerhouse, sources mentioned.
“It’s been a slow burn between Josh and Leon since,” a supply mentioned. “Leon would bring Jeffrey [up] and he was rebuffed in ways big and small.”
Tensions over Epstein got here to a head in January, when Harris demanded that Black step down over considerations that his Epstein ties would tarnish the agency, sources mentioned.
In response, Black named Rowan his successor as CEO — a shock transfer provided that Harris had been taking up an more and more essential operational function whereas Rowan had been taking up fewer duties at the agency, in accordance to sources.
An investigation by the regulation agency Dechert whose outcomes had been made public in January concluded that “while Black did not try to pressure his co-founders to use Epstein, he did positively comment on the substantial value of Epstein’s services and, at Epstein’s repeated request, did try to introduce Epstein to his co-founders.”
“In the end, neither co-founder hired Epstein or consulted with him on their personal matters,” the report launched Jan. 22 mentioned.
While the report didn’t give a particular timeline for the disagreements over Epstein, “Dechert has also determined that Epstein unsuccessfully sought to pitch business opportunities to certain Apollo senior executives, none of which were pursued by Apollo or those executives,” in accordance to the report.
As beforehand reported by The Post, Epstein was listed as a director on the board of Black’s charity, the Black Family Foundation, between 2001 and 2012.
At the time, Black’s reps insisted that Epstein had been listed as a director for the 4 years following his conviction solely due to a clerical error.