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Billionaire Bluff: Epstein’s Pressure Play on Gates Over Russian Bridge Affair

Back around 2010, the chessboard of high-stakes business saw a surprising move as tech titan and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates became involved in a personal entanglement. Gates reportedly had an affair with a Russian woman named Mila Antonova, a bridge enthusiast they met through card game tournaments.

A video from 2010 surfaced recently where Antonova, then in her 20s, shares her passion for bridge, and names Gates as an acquaintance from a national bridge tournament. She is now a software engineer, as per her LinkedIn profile.

The plot thickens around 2013 when Antonova meets Jeffrey Epstein, the infamous financier while seeking funding for a business venture. BridgePlanet was Antonova’s brainchild, aimed at popularizing and teaching the game she held dear. At this time, she was unaware of Epstein’s past crimes, including his 2008 guilty plea and jail time for soliciting a minor for prostitution, landing him a sex offender status.

“I assumed he was a successful businessman wanting to help,” Antonova shared in an interview. She adds that she now feels “disgusted with Epstein and his actions.”

Epstein, it seems, had an agenda of his own. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to entice Gates into his proposed charitable fund with JPMorgan, Epstein played his trump card. In 2017, Epstein reportedly sent an email to Gates, subtly threatening him with knowledge of the affair.

In response to these revelations, a spokeswoman for Gates clarified that Gates’ interactions with Epstein were solely philanthropic. She added, “Epstein failed repeatedly to involve Mr. Gates in his pursuits and resorted to leveraging a past relationship to threaten him, unsuccessfully.”

Despite her business aspirations falling through, Antonova eventually attended a programming camp funded by Epstein, transitioning into a career in software development.

Epstein’s associations with high-profile individuals such as Gates, Woody Allen, and Noam Chomsky, started in 2011. A Gates spokesperson has previously noted that Gates regretted ever associating with Epstein, who was portrayed to him as a potential philanthropic collaborator.

Epstein’s plans for a colossal charitable fund were ambitious, and he hoped Gates would be a significant investor. Communications to JPMorgan executives painted a picture of a close personal relationship with Gates, which Gates’ team has disputed.

When his repeated attempts to involve Gates in the fund failed, Epstein’s grand project crumbled. JPMorgan has since expressed regret over its involvement with Epstein.

A twist came in 2017 when Epstein sent an email to Gates, seeking reimbursement for Antonova’s coding camp tuition. This was seen as an indirect threat of revealing Gates’ extramarital activity. Gates never acquiesced, and it’s uncertain whether there was any further interaction between the two post-2017.

Epstein’s scandal-ridden saga ended in 2019, with his death in a New York jail. His associate Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison last June for her role in Epstein’s trafficking and abuse schemes.

This tale serves as a stark reminder of the murky waters of high-stakes business and the personal lives of the world’s most influential players, demonstrating the importance of keeping business and personal affairs distinct.