- Scott Borgerson’s life was turned upside down by the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell, his longtime romantic partner who is accused of child sex trafficking with Jeffrey Epstein.
- Business Insider spoke with Borgerson and 15 people close to the couple and reviewed public documents to understand how Borgerson’s life and career intersected with Maxwell.
- He secretly married Maxwell in 2016, at which point his professional network expanded to include big-name investors like Google’s Eric Schmidt and the billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.
- Borgerson left his company CargoMetrics in July after Maxwell’s arrest, when the board of directors found out he lied about their relationship.
- Borgerson, who is deeply religious, is still trying to figure out what this means for his life, he told Business Insider. Whatever he does next, he said, he wants it to be in the service of God.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The first time the paparazzi surrounded his seaside mansion, Scott Borgerson reacted like a soldier under siege.
He blanketed the house with security cameras and put up “no trespassing” signs all along the driveway. Borgerson, a Coast Guard veteran turned tech exec, told local police he wouldn’t hesitate to use “level 4” force on the next one of the “creeps” — or journalists — he found hiding in his bushes.
“I am starting physical patrols of my property today on a random and rotating schedule,” Borgerson told the police chief of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, in an August 2019 email.
The journalists had been drawn to Borgerson’s property, about one hour north of Boston, by a more notorious resident: Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite connected to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein — and, it turned out, Borgerson’s longtime romantic partner. One year later, Maxwell had just been arrested, and Borgerson was tabloid prey.
But sitting alone on his deck, barefoot and staring into the distance, Borgerson now looked more pensive than combative. As the couple’s purebred vizsla puttered around next to Borgerson, a Daily Mail photographer observing the property from a boat caught the scene on camera.
The headline said it all: “Ghislaine Maxwell’s downcast lover Scott Borgerson is spotted for first time since her arrest — still looking after her faithful dog.”
Borgerson, 6-foot-5 with dark hair and a sculpted beard, is the newest character in the decadeslong scandal that regained momentum after Epstein’s jail-cell suicide last year and Maxwell’s arrest. Borgerson, 45, is not accused of any crimes but has been thrust into the story as details emerge about Maxwell’s private life, including her secret marriage to Borgerson and the many properties they own together. It’s not clear what Borgerson knows about her relationship with Epstein. While he says he feels Epstein is guilty, he maintains his wife’s innocence.
For Borgerson, who grew up in a small Missouri town and once considered becoming a Presbyterian minister, the journey to the tabloids has been remarkable, but not entirely unpredictable, several people who have known him over the years said.
In the seven years since he met Maxwell, Borgerson’s life underwent a complete and dramatic transformation that opened doors to exclusive events hosted by the likes of Jeff Bezos, added gold-plated names such as Eric Schmidt and Paul Tudor Jones to his startup’s cap table, and even upgraded his $15,000 Volkswagen to a shiny Tesla. Borgerson’s first marriage, his longtime business partner, and other baggage of his earlier life were thrown overboard.
Now jobless after getting ejected from his startup in July, Maxwell’s “downcast lover” is both an important figure in one of the country’s most high-profile legal cases and a puzzling persona reluctantly at the center of an unfolding chapter in the Epstein scandal.
Business Insider spoke with Borgerson and 15 people close to the couple and reviewed public documents to better understand who Borgerson is and how his life and career intersected with Maxwell.
Accounts varied, but almost everyone agreed on two things: Borgerson is extremely charismatic and self-confident, and everything else about the little-known Boston tech CEO changed the moment he became involved with Maxwell.
“Scott had always been a self-promoter, but around the time he started dating Ghislaine, that self-promotion went to a whole different level,” a person close to Borgerson said.
Death threats, anonymity, and a $22.5 million bail
When the tabloids discovered Borgerson’s connection to Maxwell in summer 2019, he told reporters she was a “former friend.” This time around, he’d just rather not talk about her.
“The invasion of my privacy by tabloids has been awful,” Borgerson told Business Insider in a text message, a rare on-the-record statement from a man still distrustful that much good can come from talking to the press.
Over the years, Borgerson learned to leverage the benefit of Maxwell’s elite social network when it suited him and how to hide it through aliases and fictitious backstories when necessary.
“I am deeply grateful to my family, my friends, my mentors, and the many colleagues and shipmates who have joined me on the journey,” Borgerson said in the text. “They know my core principles of integrity and teamwork. If there is a reader looking for an entrepreneur to contribute solving an important problem, please reach out!”
Attention has ramped up on Borgerson again following Maxwell’s latest request for bail, which could be ruled upon at a hearing in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York as soon as Monday. Maxwell and her husband proposed posting $22.5 million in collateral on December 14 in an effort to convince the judge that she was not at risk of fleeing the country before her trial.
Borgerson is not listed as Maxwell’s husband in the filing. Neither is anyone else. The death threats on social media and the tabloid frenzy generated by the case are so severe that the names of Maxwell’s bail cosigners needed to be redacted, her lawyers successfully argued.
In a situation complicating matters further, Maxwell told pretrial services in July that she was “in the process of divorcing her husband,” the government revealed on December 18. If she is granted bail, she will live in New York, and not with her spouse.
While marriage records officially confirming Borgerson and Maxwell’s union have yet to surface, the descriptions in recent court filings leave little doubt that Borgerson is the anonymous husband. The filings describe Maxwell living in a “committed” relationship with her spouse from their marriage in 2016 until “immediately prior to her arrest.”
Business Insider has also confidently identified him as Maxwell’s husband through our reporting process.
Leah Saffian, a lawyer representing Maxwell, declined to comment on the marriage.
Borgerson ousted his friend and business partner the year he met Maxwell
Borgerson’s relationship with Maxwell can be traced back to 2013. The two were photographed together in October that year, smiling arm in arm, during cocktail hour at a conference in Iceland about the Arctic.
Just a few months before the photo was taken, Borgerson made a major change in his life, leading a boardroom coup at his startup — CargoMetrics — while his partner was on a business trip.
CargoMetrics was developing a clever business idea of tracking the movement of ocean freight by harvesting wireless anti-collision signals emitted by ships. Borgerson and Rockford Weitz, who met as graduate students at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, had turned the idea into a modest success, raising $20 million in funding that valued the business at $100 million.
But their relationship had grown strained. Weitz and Borgerson had different ideas about the future of the company, and Borgerson felt he was performing at a higher level than his cofounder. Efforts to salvage their relationship, including a trip to a cabin in the woods with a mediator, came to nothing.
So while Weitz was away, Borgerson met with the board members of CargoMetrics and gave them an ultimatum, people close to the company said. If they did not make Borgerson the sole chief executive, he would leave. The conversation was in part prompted by another job offer Borgerson was considering. When Weitz got back from his business trip to Europe, he was promptly pushed out and encouraged to sell his stake in the company.
“That’s where Scott’s charisma won out,” one of the people said.
Another one of his associates from that time period had a less-flattering recollection: “Scott was a larger-than-life narcissist type,” the person said. “Over time it became clear — he thinks he is entitled to anything.”
Weitz did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Borgerson’s personal profile got a big upgrade
At the time he met Maxwell, Borgerson was a married father with two young kids and a rising star of his niche in academia. He had a handful of bylines in the opinion section of The New York Times (copies of which, records show, he kept framed at his home) and had testified before a senate committee that the US should develop infrastructure in Alaska to take advantage of melting ice in the Arctic. He had prestigious fellowships with the Council on Foreign Relations and regularly spoke on panels.
But his success in the worlds of tech and finance were far from guaranteed. And compared to the power players of Silicon Valley, Borgerson was still in the bush leagues.
His profile began to rise as he became closer to Maxwell, who at the time was starting a new chapter of her life as an ocean philanthropist, an uncontroversial passion project to define her identity as a socialite that wasn’t with her ex Epstein.
Borgerson and Maxwell started seeing each other regularly after the conference in Iceland. He joined the board of Maxwell’s nonprofit the TerraMar Project that same year.
In February 2014, they both spoke at another Arctic-focused event in Seattle called the Arctic Encounter Symposium, which Maxwell was invited to on Borgerson’s recommendation, according to a person close to that conference. Later that month, they were also spotted at an intimate dinner party at a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, organized by Maxwell’s longtime pal President Bill Clinton, The Daily Beast reported.
Around 2016, the year he married Maxwell, Borgerson made another big career pivot: Instead of selling data about ships, CargoMetrics would become a quant fund, turning money into more money through an algorithmic trading desk based on the company’s unique visibility into global shipping.
To make it work, CargoMetrics needed an entirely new set of investors. Most of its earlier backers couldn’t legally hold a hedge fund in their portfolios, even if they had wanted to. That’s where it paid off to be chummy with a few billionaires.
“My understanding is that some of the investors were brought in thanks to Ghislaine and her connections,” a source close to the company said, a sentiment that was confirmed by a second person involved in the fundraising.
While the initial CargoMetrics investors were a low-profile group that included a syndicate of wealthy people with military backgrounds and a former CEO of the 1980s software company Lotus Development Corp., the new backers were of an entirely different caliber. They included Google’s Schmidt; the Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer; the Turkish Genel Energy founder Mehmet Sepil; the Renaissance Technologies and First Round Capital founder Howard Morgan; and the billionaire hedge-fund manager Jones, a close friend of the Highbridge Capital founder Glenn Dubin, who himself had a long-standing social and financial relationship with Epstein.
Maxwell also invested in CargoMetrics, the company confirmed, though she no longer has any equity.
Borgerson was now hobnobbing with the richest people across Europe and the Middle East and flying around the world for parties, like an “A-list” dinner in Saint-Tropez, France, in August 2017, where Borgerson and Ofer spent the evening in a corner debating colonial history.
On another trip in November 2018, Borgerson and Maxwell visited New Mexico at the invitation of Bezos and Amazon for a secretive all-expenses-paid retreat called Campfire, Vice reported.
If Maxwell’s history with Epstein had tarnished her reputation, it wasn’t showing. And it certainly wasn’t hurting Borgerson’s prospects.
But with time it became clear that Borgerson and CargoMetrics’ success had more to do with hubris than cutting-edge technology. Despite Borgerson’s big promises to investors, the hedge fund was a failure. It couldn’t make enough money, and it couldn’t raise new money, people close to the company said. CargoMetrics wound the fund down entirely in 2018, leaving investors with the check.
“I think most people understood the degree to which they were being hustled. But he figured out what they wanted and how to give it to them,” one of the company sources said about Borgerson. “These weren’t little old ladies with their Social Security checks; these were the rich and powerful, so that was on them.”
A spokesperson for CargoMetrics said the company wound the hedge fund down “to pursue more valuable business opportunities and not specifically due to performance.”
A tour of duty hunting cocaine smugglers and human traffickers
The jet-setting lifestyle was about as different as you could get from Festus, Missouri, a working-class town of 8,100 people near the Mississippi River where Borgerson grew up.
In another life, Borgerson might have become a man of God. He considered becoming a Presbyterian minister after high school but joined the Coast Guard instead because its “humanitarian mission really appealed” to him, he told Institutional Investor.
“And I had never been on a boat before,” he added.
He shipped off to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, a few weeks after graduation, where they shaved his head and taught him to shine his shoes.
Borgerson made friends easily thanks to his boisterous personality, which was both a blessing and a curse in the strict confines of a military academy, his college roommate recalled. Borgerson was known to go all out when partying during out-of-state tournaments with the rugby team and on weekends visiting the University of Rochester, where he and the roommate drove to see a couple of girls they were dating. But he was ambitious and took his school work seriously, treating college as an escape hatch to a less cloistered life.
“It would be fair in retrospect to say he was naive, but smart and driven and very interested in learning things,” said the roommate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the vitriol around Maxwell’s case. “He viewed the time at the academy as valuable in that it exposed him to a whole world of people and experiences he hadn’t seen.”
After graduating in 1997, Borgerson stayed in the Coast Guard. His days serving on a patrol boat in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean involved intercepting bales of cocaine, making sure shrimping vessels had their nets up to code, and deterring human traffickers. He finished his tour of duty with more than a dozen ribbons and awards and top secret clearance, according to military records and people familiar with his time in service.
By 2001, Borgerson was well on his way to a comfortable, if not unremarkable, life in the middle class. He married his first wife, Rebecca, a round-faced blonde with a Pollyanna smile who would spend most of their marriage as a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s two children. He started grad school at Fletcher, where he was known for being funny and charming, and frequently out drinking his classmates at parties.
But he could be rigid in ways that seemed inconsistent with the rest of his gregarious character, particularly when it came to religion.
On stage at a holiday show for the school’s a cappella group, for example, Borgerson stood off to the side during the Hanukkah number, reluctant to sing a Jewish song at odds with his faith, one classmate said.
He lost his kids, half his shares in CargoMetrics in the divorce
It was April 2014 when Rebecca Borgerson discovered the affair. She carried the knowledge around with her for weeks, careful never to let on to the couple’s two young children, who adored their dad when he wasn’t away traveling for work, as he frequently was.
When he was with the family in Rockport, Massachusetts, an idyllic beach town on the tip of Cape Ann, things between Scott and Rebecca could be volatile. Scott had been controlling and showed signs of a drinking problem since they were married at a Palm Beach, Florida, ceremony in 2001, Rebecca said in divorce records.
One time in 2013, he got so drunk that he blacked out and forgot that he grabbed her shoulders and pushed her down a small set of steps during a fight, she said in an affidavit, part of a restraining order filed later that year.
In February 2014, the month of the Clinton dinner, things got bad again. The couple started fighting one day after Borgerson called their daughter fat, Rebecca said the affidavit. “Don’t make me beat your ass in front of the kids,” she quoted him as saying.
They continued living together until June when their marriage reached its final breaking point. For Father’s Day, Borgerson’s kids made him a “daddy book,” with messages saying that they missed him and wished he didn’t go on so many trips.
Angry that the kids had been brought into their marital problems, Scott found Rebecca in their bedroom and threw the card at her, then grabbed her shoulders and shoved her into a closet, she said in the affidavit. “My husband has a history of control issues,” she wrote. “I’m afraid of him and what he’ll do next.” (Rebecca said in divorce documents she later had to get a new phone after she was informed by AT&T that her husband had paid to track her.)
Scott’s lawyers had a softer take, writing that the couple “experienced quarrelsomeness and a lack of communication.” But he also accused Rebecca of being “erratic” and using extreme religion to turn the kids against him, citing statements made by the kids that their father was “a sinner.”
Scott filed for divorce a few days after the incident in June. Rebecca got half his shares in CargoMetrics, then valued about $5 million; family support valued at about one-third of his six-figure salary; and full legal and physical custody of their two kids, divorce records show.
Maxwell and Borgerson bonded over their purebred vizslas
For all the glamour that Maxwell brought to Scott Borgerson’s life, the couple’s relationship was also decidedly ordinary, people familiar with their dynamic said. Maxwell would drive her large black SUV to visit Borgerson at the CargoMetrics office in Boston with their dogs, and she accompanied him to social events for work as his significant other.
When the couple wanted to renovate the house in Manchester-by-the-Sea in July 2016, they filed public paperwork with the town. (Maxwell appears to have used the alias “Jennifer Ellmax,” a reference to her company Ellmax Enterprise Ltd.) Later, they were both named in a dispute with neighbors over access rights to the nearby shoreline.
Like many couples, they bonded over their canine companions.
In 2015, Borgerson and Maxwell flew to Michigan to meet their new puppy, which had been sired by Maxwell’s show dog, a purebred vizsla named Captain Nemo.
“They were like a couple of kids, crawling around on the floor and playing with puppies,” Nancy Heinold, the breeder, said.
Maxwell had previously spent thousands of dollars to buy Captain Nemo, a descendant of a Grand Champion show dog by the name of Bowcott Billy, with dreams of one day winning the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Heinold said. Nemo won a number of titles but never reached Maxwell’s dream for best in show. So Maxwell set a new goal to breed vizslas and lent Nemo out to the Michigan breeder in exchange for their pick of the litter.
The young pup, which they named Secretary Hamilton, became an important part of Borgerson’s and Maxwell’s lives (Hamilton was the dog that appeared near Borgerson in the Daily Mail photos) and a living manifestation of the couple’s evolving relationship. Maxwell’s original dog, Captain Nemo, began a slow decline. His behavioral problems left neighbors and coworkers nervous around him, and he would frequently attack Secretary Hamilton in fits of psychosis, one person told Business Insider.
The couple hid their millions in assets through shell companies
By late 2019, Maxwell’s history with Epstein was beginning to cause trouble.
Britain’s Prince Andrew, looking to clear his name of the Epstein scandal, sat down with the BBC for a lengthy interview in which he denied ever meeting Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers who alleged she had been forced to have sex with the prince. Andrew insisted in the interview that he spent time with Epstein only because of his friendship with Maxwell.
“Remember, it was his girlfriend who was the key element in this,” the prince said in the interview, which was first broadcast on November 16, 2019. A few weeks later, Maxwell went into hiding.
For a few months before her arrest, Maxwell found shelter in a three-bed, one-bath cottage called “Tuckedaway,” hidden on 158 acres in Bradford, New Hampshire.
She became Jen Marshall, a British journalist looking for privacy with her husband Scott Marshall, who was retired from the British military, federal prosecutors said in Maxwell’s July arraignment, recounting the story of the real-estate agent who contacted the FBI after realizing that Jen Marshall was actually Maxwell. (There’s no evidence that the British Scott was Borgerson.)
The Marshalls purchased the $1 million property in an all-cash deal using an anonymized LLC called Granite Reality, the prosecutors said. Records show that LLC was formed by a lawyer at Nutter McClennen & Fish.
Lawyers at the same firm signed the documents for at least five of the 13 LLCs and trusts that were part of a complex network of shell companies designed to keep Borgerson and Maxwell’s assets private.
Those assets, the court filings for Maxwell’s bail proposal said, are worth $22.5 million and include four properties, a fortune which has been entirely in her spouse’s name since 2019.
The addresses and names of the entities were redacted in the court filing, but an analysis of public records by Business Insider, as well as previous reporting by news outlets, shed light on the couple’s various holdings and a behind-the-scenes process that has gradually moved some of Borgerson’s ownership out in the open.
There’s the oceanfront estate in Manchester-by-the-Sea, purchased in 2016 for $2.45 million in cash through an anonymized shell company called Tidewood LLC. A few months later, they purchased a $1.2 million pied-a-terre near the Boston Common park in Boston, once again paying cash, this time through an entity called the Angara Trust.
Much of the money for these deals likely came from Maxwell’s sale of her Manhattan townhouse for $15 million in 2015. Borgerson’s divorce records indicated he entered his second marriage with few assets and savings beyond his illiquid equity in CargoMetrics. At the time of the divorce, Borgerson had just $4,666 in a checking account, and an individual retirement account worth $22,367. His car, a 2012 Volkswagen, was worth $15,000, most of which he still owed to the lender.
It’s unclear what happens to Maxwell and Borgerson’s assets in the case of a divorce.
Borgerson flew too close to the sun
The testimony in the bail proposal indicated Borgerson, who still professes to be deeply religious, is convinced of Maxwell’s innocence.
“I believe Ghislaine had nothing to do with Epstein’s crimes,” the letter of support from Maxwell’s spouse said, describing Maxwell as a “wonderful and loving person.”
“I pray for Ghislaine’s safety. I am praying for justice. And I pray for her constitutionally afforded due process,” the letter said. “With humility and deep compassion, I am also praying for Epstein’s victims.”
Such good faith has not been extended to Borgerson in the months since Maxwell’s arrest.
The board of CargoMetrics was concerned that Borgerson had shown poor judgement by lying about his relationship with Maxwell to both the press and the board of directors, according to two people familiar with the decision. He departed the company quietly in July.
“We are enormously grateful to our founder Scott Borgerson, who resigned as CEO and from his seat on the Board in late July to ensure his presence would not become a distraction from the work he believes in so deeply,” the company said in a statement.
For some people close to Borgerson, his is the story of a man who flew too close to the sun in the pursuit of his ambitions.
“He liked the transition he made from Missouri boy to high-flying socialite. I think he welcomed that,” the classmate from Fletcher said. “I can’t fault him for that. Who would?”
Borgerson, for his part, is still struggling to make sense of it all, he said in a phone call with Business Insider. He’s spent the past few months at home in Massachusetts, juggling the typical struggles of coronavirus distance learning for his two kids, who he now has joint custody over with Rebecca, and the less-conventional stress of being a part of a major scandal.
He considered telling his story in a book, he said. He wrote a proposal that a publisher said would fly off the shelves, but he questioned whether it was worth it to have his legacy tied so closely to Maxwell’s.
Now he’s thinking of a new book about the ethics of journalism recounting his first-person experience as the subject on the other side of the telephoto lens. Whatever he does next, he said, he wants it to be in the service of others and in the service of God.
Despite Borgerson’s confidence in his destiny, and his drive to move forward, it’s an open question whether he survives the current storm, as he has over the past few years whenever Maxwell’s notoriety threatened to collide with his rising profile.
In February, while Borgerson was still the CEO of his startup, and before Maxwell was in jail, he took the stage at a shipping-industry conference in Germany. “Someone once said to me that Scott Borgerson is the closest thing the shipping industry has to Elon Musk,” the host of the event said as he introduced Borgerson.
“I am no Elon Musk,” Borgerson replied from the stage. “I try to be more humble, maybe.”