Phippen House sale may go to Maxwell legal fees

The Phippen-Smith House, 301 Summer St. in Manchester, is seen in a screenshot taken from Proceeds from its sale may go to legal fees for convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.

MANCHESTER — The real estate listing for The Phippen-Smith House, a five-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom home at 301 Summer St., boasts ocean views and colonial roots. It is also the one-time home of convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, who now lives 1,300 miles south in a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida.

And proceeds from the sale of the house — listed for $6.95 million — could be earmarked for paying Maxwell’s legal bills.

That’s according to an agreement Maxwell’s husband, Scott Borgerson, reached with Maxwell’s long-term law firm, Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, in September.

The Denver firm is trying to collect more than $880,000 it says Maxwell owes for the firm’s work defending her in her New York sex trafficking trial last year.

Maxwell was ultimately convicted on five of six counts for recruiting and grooming girls to be sexually abused by Maxwell’s onetime boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein. Prosecutors said Maxwell participated in the abuse herself on at least one occasion.

The firm initially sued Maxwell, Borgerson and Maxwell’s brother, Kevin.

Borgerson was dismissed from the suit, but a September agreement accidentally included in one of the firm’s filings shows that Borgerson agreed that if the firm was unable to collect the money owed from either Ghislaine or Kevin Maxwell, proceeds from the sale of Phippen House would be used to repay the debt.

Borgerson agreed to provide testimony in the case if needed and “to not dispose of or transfer any money, securities, real or personal property, or other assets that are or were owned, in whole or part, by Ghislaine Maxwell, or any entity associated with her, including any assets acquired during your marriage to Ghislaine Maxwell, without written consent of (the law firm).”

The firm is still pursuing Ghislaine and Kevin Maxwell and has asked the court to grant judgments against them.

Buying the house

Ghislaine Maxwell now calls FCI Tallahassee, a low-security prison, home after she was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June.

Her current circumstances are a far cry from the life Maxwell once lived, cavorting with celebrities and royalty and shuffling between Epstein’s mansions in Palm Beach, Manhattan and the Virgin Islands.

Maxwell married Borgerson in 2015, according to the law firm’s complaint, years after her relationship ended with Epstein.

Borgerson, according to the complaint, bought several high-end properties using Maxwell’s money, including Phippen-Smith House in Manchester and a 156-acre estate in New Hampshire where Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, roughly one year after Epstein had been arrested on sex charges.

Phippen-Smith House, part of the Sharksmouth Estate, was purchased in 2016 for $2.45 million in cash by Tidewood, LLC, which Borgerson manages. Tidewood took out a $2.15 million mortgage on Phippen-Smith House in January from Saxon Spencer Capital.

The house, which boasts of original floorboards and fireplaces mixed with modern flourishes such as a Tesla charging station, was first listed in April with an asking price of $7.8 million, but the price was reduced in August to $6.95 million. Town records show it has an assessed value of $3,603,500.

The legal defense bill

At Maxwell’s trial, prosecutors showed that Epstein had made payments totaling more than $30 million to accounts connected to Maxwell in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Epstein also left Maxwell $10 million in his will, though Maxwell’s lawyers indicated at her sentencing in June that they didn’t expect she would ever see that money.

Epstein died in federal custody in August 2019 in what has been ruled a suicide and Maxwell was held in federal custody after her arrest in 2020, with much of her time spent in solitary confinement and closely monitored.

After Maxwell was taken into custody, her brother Kevin assumed responsibility for paying her legal bills. Overall, the Denver law firm billed Ghislaine Maxwell nearly $2.2 million for its work on her criminal case and is owed more than $880,000 of that amount.

At Maxwell’s sentencing, her lawyers indicated that her finances were limited and would be further impacted by a pending divorce settlement with Borgerson.

As of his September agreement with the law firm, Borgerson appeared to still be married to Ghislaine Maxwell. Borgerson didn’t comment on the agreement, the status of his marriage or the house, but pointed to the notice of his dismissal in the case, which cited that he had “expressed cooperation, transparency, and honesty,” in his discussions with the law firm.

Both a lawyer who represents Ghislaine Maxwell, Leah Saffian, and Haddon, Morgan and Foreman declined to comment.

Epstein was accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls, a number of whom said that Ghislaine Maxwell had recruited them and then normalized them to the idea of sexual activity.

Times staff contributed to this story.

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