The two main loves – and diabolical influences – of Ghislaine Maxwell’s life are now so well-documented in the grisly account of her downfall from society darling to prison convict, that you would have to be an Inuit or an alien not to know that she fell from the arms of one monster, her domineering father Robert Maxwell, into the arms of another, paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
But who were the other loves of Ghislaine Maxwell and what do they tell us about the woman now sitting in a New York detention centre awaiting sentencing for sex trafficking? Prior to Robert Maxwell’s pension fund scandal in the late Eighties, when he siphoned off £500 million from his employees pensions to fund his limitless lifestyle, and his subsequent mysterious death when he fell off the back of his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine in the Canary Islands in 1991, Ghislaine’s romantic life spilled straight on to the society pages.
At Oxford, she led the giddy life of a well-heeled member of the Eighties’ jeunesse doree. A sleek-haired beauty, she was seen as magnetic and mesmerising. Her first serious boyfriend was David Faber, chiselled cheek-boned scion of an aristocratic political family and grandson of former prime minister Harold Macmillan. They met when both were undergraduates at Balliol College and were regularly photographed together on the London social scene at Annabel’s and the Chelsea Arts Club.
Dafydd Jones, a society photographer who chronicled the Eighties, recalls Ghislaine being David Faber’s girlfriend, but she also was regularly seen out with Robert Hanson, son of industrialist Lord Hanson, and James Sainsbury, heir to the supermarket fortune. “They were the crowd of people she mixed with. All incredibly well-connected, wealthy and the sort of men she made a beeline for,” he said. “She’s just ignored normal students because that’s just who she was.”
Given Robert Maxwell’s vaulting ambition to become accepted amongst the establishment, it was high on his list of hopes that Ghislaine would marry into the aristocracy. With Maxwell money, she could have sealed the age-old contract of social cachet for cash. Apparently, Maxwell dreamed that he might one day forge an alliance with the powerful American Kennedy clan by marrying Ghislaine to John F Kennedy Jr. But although Ghislaine and JFK Jr became close friends, they were never romantically linked.
It must have been to her father’s delight, then, that Ghislaine’s first great love, Count Gianfranco Cicogna Mozzini, didn’t need Maxwell’s millions as the Italian Milanese nobleman was a member of the wealthy Ciga hotels clan. Gianfranco Cicogna, educated at Millfield, worked at Credit Suisse First Boston when he went out with Ghislaine. Like a European James Bond, Cicogna was dashing and suave. He skied competitively and flew helicopters. I spent a weekend – post-Ghislaine – with him and his next girlfriend, television presenter Tania Bryer, and remember Cicogna as the perfect gentleman; charming, good-looking, with impeccable manners. As it would have been inconceivable to consider thug Robert Maxwell as his father-in-law, I imagine that Gianfranco saw Ghislaine – also multi-lingual and proficient skier – as great fun. But a good-time girl for now, as opposed to a worthy wife for later.
To Ghislaine’s devastation – she had apparently hoped to become Gianfranco’s Contessa – he ended the relationship in 1991, after four years. She was nursing her broken heart when her father fell to his ignominious death.