Jeffrey Epstein's bizarre blue-striped building on private island raised alarm

The bizarre blue-striped building on Jeffrey Epstein's private Caribbean island was supposed to be a music pavilion with a strikingly different design, according to permit records viewed by NBC News.

The building, shaped like a giant box and initially topped with a gold dome, has fueled rampant speculation and online conspiracy theories.

Drawings supplied by Epstein's architects to the U.S. Virgin Islands agency that oversees coastal development show that it was designed to be a haven for music: an octagonal 3,500-square foot pavilion housing a grand piano.

But questions remain over whether it was built according to the plans that were submitted to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

Those 2010 plans, which were part of a permit application that raised concerns inside the agency, included drawings of a building that looks almost nothing like the structure that was built.

The drawings show a building with a 10-foot facade, stone exterior and multiple windows. The structure that was erected has no windows or stone exterior and appears to rise at least 30 feet.

One Department of Planning and Natural Resources acknowledged that there were differences.

"The major difference seems to be in the shape of the building itself," Marlon Hibbert of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources said in an email request that contained a link to a photo of the odd-looking structure.

"In the link you provided the building looks rectangular and in the drawings it looked octagonal."

But neither Hibbert nor his fellow top officials responded to subsequent requests asking if the agency approved the building as it now appears.

It's no surprise that Epstein would have wanted a grand music room on his private island. Friends and former co-workers have described Epstein, a wealthy financier now accused of trafficking and sexually abusing young girls, as a talented pianist.

Related: Jeffrey Epstein Trial Case

18 PHOTOS
The Jeffrey Epstein case
See Gallery
The Jeffrey Epstein case
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against billionaire financier Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 08: Two of the purported victims of multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild leave a Manhattan court house after a hearing on sex trafficking charges for financier Jeffrey Epstein on July 08, 2019 in New York City. Epstein is charged with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Two of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild (R), exit the courthouse after the billionaire financier appeared for a hearing on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
NEW YORK, US - JULY 08: David Boies, attorney for the alleged sex victims of the US financier Jeffreey Epstein case, delivers a speech to the media outside the United States Federal Court on July 08, 2019 in New York, United States. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: A residence belonging to Jeffrey Epstein at East 71st street is seen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein is charged with running a sex-trafficking operation out of his opulent mansion. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Prosecutors exit the room after US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Member of the press listen as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: A protest group called "Hot Mess" hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein and President Donald Trump in front of the Federal courthouse on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. Court documents unsealed Monday show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
In this courtroom sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, second from right, listens along with defense attorneys, from left, Marc Fernich, Michael Miller, and Martin Weinberg as Judge Richard M. Berman denies him bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (Aggie Kenny via AP)
FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. A judge denied bail for jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges Thursday, July 18, 2019, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)
In this courtroom sketch, Judge Richard M. Berman speaking as he denies Jeffrey Epstein bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (Aggie Kenny via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and his attorney Martin Weinberg listen during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein's lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
This courtroom sketch shows Judge Richard Berman as he speaks during the Jeffrey Epstein bail hearing in federal court, Monday July 15, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, listens as accuser Annie Farmer, second from right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Farmer says she was 16 when she "had the misfortune" of meeting Epstein and later went to spend time with him in New Mexico. Accuser Courtney Wild, right, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. Epstein's lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and attorney Reid Weingarten, second from right, listen as attorney Martin Weinberg, right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein's lawyers have insisted he will not run. They want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. Courtney Wild, third from left, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. She called him a "scary person" and urged detention "for the safety of any other girls" out there. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The blue-striped structure sits on a look-out point on the southeastern edge of Little St. James island, which Epstein purchased in 1998 for $7.95 million. The building is surrounded by an expansive terrace painted bright white with red shapes. Locals say the structure's gold dome was blown away during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Records viewed by NBC News show that the building was among proposed new construction that raised alarm inside the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. In March 2011, a top official sent a letter to Epstein's attorney expressing concern over development on the island.

A few months earlier, Epstein's lawyer, Maria Tankenson Hodge, submitted a request to add a 3,000-square foot spa to a permit application that included the music pavilion, a pool and 2,000-square foot cabana with a coral stone deck, living space and rest room. That portion of the island already housed a gym, tiki hut, nature observation cabana and dive pavilion, according to the documents.

"I am very concerned that major development is occurring on Little St. James Island through the processing of a series of minor" permit applications," Jean-Pierre Oriol, the then-director of the Coastal Zone Management program, wrote in a March 2011 letter to Epstein's attorney.

Oriol called on Hodge to provide a detailed inventory on "all existing structures on Little St. James" and a status report of all permits issued to Epstein's company "for which the scope of work is not completed."

Oriol also requested a meeting to discuss development on Little St. James.

The two sides did get together after the letter was sent, according to an agency official.

"They presented a survey of the existing site at the meeting and expressed no new buildings would be requested across the island," Hibbert said in a statement. "Our files do not reflect any other permit request since that 2011 time frame."

Hodge, Epstein's lawyer, did not return a request for comment.

Epstein, 66, is now facing up to 45 years in prison on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. Prosecutors say he preyed on girls as young as 14 and paid some of them to become recruiters who provided him with a steady supply of victims in the early 2000s.

NBC News reported Tuesday that Epstein was seeking to expand his island estate during the same period that his lawyers were secretly negotiating a lenient deal with federal prosecutors in Miami investigating similar allegations against him.

Epstein ultimately struck a 2008 deal that spared him the prospect of a long federal prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to two state prostitution counts and served 13 months in jail in an arrangement that allowed him to leave for 12 hours a day, six days a week, on work release.

While the two sides were still hashing out the agreement, Epstein was moving forward with plans to triple the size of his 8,124-square-foot island residence and add a new pool, spa and underground theater, according to permit records viewed by NBC News.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.