A quick glance at the fortunes of the Maxwell siblings and it is difficult not to think the nine children of tyrannical media mogul Robert Maxwell were cursed from the start.
Most famous among them is his youngest – and favourite – Ghislaine, the disgraced socialite who is waiting to stand trial on a string of charges relating to the trafficking minors for her former lover Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell, who denies all charges, faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison if found guilty of abuse, procurement of young girls for Epstein and sex trafficking crimes dating back decades.
Her brother Ian, 65, the seventh of the nine Maxwell children, has been a vocal supporter of his sister and spoke out again this week in her defence, saying he believes the ‘enormous amount of negative media coverage’ of the case will ‘poison’ the jury against her.
Ian has had his fair share of experience in court. In the 1990s, he and younger brother Kevin stood trial for their part in their father’s £460 million Mirror Group pension fraud.
But what of the other Maxwell children?
MailOnline looks at the fate of Ghislaine’s eight siblings, from the brilliant scientist brother who fled to Argentina to escape his father, the children Maxwell bullied, the twins who became dotcom millionaires, and the tragic sister who died in childhood.
Robert Maxwell (back row, centre) pictured with his wife Betty (sat with youngest daughter Ghislaine on her knee) and seven of their eight children at home in Headington Hill Hall, Oxford. When this photo was taken Ian (5) was 11 years old and attending preparatory school, while Isabel, then 17 (4) was at grammar school with their sister Christine (3), and youngest son Kevin, 8, (6) was at preparatory school. Second oldest son Philip, (1), had entered his second undergraduate year at Balliol College, Oxford, while Anne (2) was also studying at the university, but at St Hugh’s College. Michael, the eldest, was terminally ill after a car crash
Ghislaine Maxwell in June 2019 (pictured front) with her six living siblings. Ian Maxwell, her older brother, top right, shared the photo in March 2021. A month after it was taken, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and Ghislaine went into hiding with her husband, Scott Borgerson. The siblings, L-R, are: Anne, Kevin, twins Isabel and Christine, Philip, and Ian
Michael, the tragic first-born child who died in his 20s
Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth ‘Betty’ Meynard in 1945 and the couple had nine children over the next 15 years.
In a 1995 interview, Elisabeth talked of how they were recreating his childhood family who were killed in the Holocaust.
Their eldest child, Michael, was born shortly after the couple wed. However his life was to be cut short.
Michael was severely injured aged 15 when his driver fell asleep at the wheel on December 27, 1961, just 48 hours after the birth of Ghislaine.
Michael fell into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died eight years later.
Philip, 73, the brilliant scientist who fled to Argentina
‘Poor Philip’ (left in 1971) as his friends knew him, was a brilliant scientist and mathematician who won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, aged 16. He eventually fled to Argentina. It is not known where he lives, but he joined his siblings for their 2019 reunion (right)
‘Poor Philip’, as his friends always knew him, was a brilliant scientist and mathematician who won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, aged just 16.
But he so loathed his domineering father that, as soon as he could, Philip fled to Argentina to get ‘as far away from [him] as possible’.
The pair fell out irretrievably when he married Nilda, an Argentinian woman, in 1977, against Robert’s wishes.
The marriage didn’t last — Nilda moved out taking their daughter Marcella with her and a second marriage also failed.
Philip was last heard of living in a £65-a-week flat in North London trying to be a writer. The subject? His bullying father.
He joined the siblings for a reunion in London in 2019
Anne, ex-actress called ‘ugly’ by her father
Anne Maxwell, the eldest daughter, dreamed of becoming an actress before retraining as a teacher. She was bullied by her tyrant father over her looks. Pictured, in 1968 and 2019
When her fledgling acting career floundered, her father’s reaction was: ‘What have you and Pope John Paul II got in common? You’re both ugly and you’re both failed actors.’
Having studied Italian and French at Oxford, Anne reportedly worked on a television series before giving up her dreams of stardom.
She then trained as a Montessori teacher, married an osteopath and is now believed to be a hypnotherapist in Surrey, practising under another name.
She has kept out of the limelight since her father’s death at the age of 68.
Isabel, 71, a ‘fireball’ who lost her internet fortune
Described in The Jerusalem Post as ‘a fireball’ who is ‘always in your face’, Isabel (left in 1968 and right in 1992) was always the Maxwell to watch and made a fortune in the dotcom boom
Once described in The Jerusalem Post as ‘a fireball’ who is ‘always in your face’, Isabel was always the Maxwell to watch.
She never wanted to join the family firm, so after graduating from Oxford with a degree in modern languages, followed by a masters from Edinburgh, she became a TV reporter.
In 1981, she moved to California to work in TV before making a film set in 1968 starring rock singer Neil Young. ‘It wasn’t ET,’ she said, ‘. . . more a labour of love.’
But technology was her future. She and twin Christine co-founded one of the earliest internet search engines, known as Magellan, in 1992.
At one point worth £50million, Isabel, above in 2019, was declared bankrupt in 2015
In 1996, they sold it for shares in a rival company Excite — which rocketed in value, giving the sisters a joint £100 million fortune and landing them a place on the Sunday Times Rich list in 1999.
However her fortune waned and she was declared bankrupt in 2015.
She was married twice. Her first husband was U.S. film-maker Dale Djerassi, with whom she has a son, and then she wed Magellan co-founder David Hayden.
Her third ‘husband’, illusionist Al Seckel, was once a significant player in the Californian literary, academic and celebrity scene. He was famous for holding parties for the great and good. Jeffrey Epstein was a friend.
In 2009, the two men organised a science conference called Mindshift on Epstein’s private island Little Saint James.
Isabel and Seckel ‘married’ in Malibu in 2007 but their union was never legal as he had forgotten to file the papers to annul the second of three previous marriages (to Denice Lewis, a former model who appeared in music videos for Bryan Ferry, Elton John and Cliff Richard. She became an artist specialising in memorial paintings in which the ashes of the deceased are mixed with the pigment.)
Similarly, Seckel had forgotten to repay countless debts over the years that resulted in endless legal proceedings.
In 2015, Seckel was found dead below a cliff near their home in the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in France’s Lot Valley. Isabel still lives in the south of France.
Christine, 71, dotcom boom millionaire
Unlike her twin sister Isabel, Christine, pictured left and right, entered the family business and spent years working for her father – and even published a bestselling book for his Pergamon
Unlike her twin sister Isabel, Christine entered the family business and spent years working for her father – and even published a bestselling book for his Pergamon.
After attending senior school at Milham Ford School in Oxford, she entered Pitzer College, Claremont, California, graduating in 1972 with a BA with a major in Latin American Studies and Sociology.
In September 1973, Maxwell enrolled at Oxford Brookes University’s Lady Spencer Churchill College of Education and obtained a post graduate teaching certificate the following year.
Christine continues to work at The University of Texas. Pictured, at the 2019 reunion
She later earned a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Christine was an editor for Pergamon Press Publishers, co-founded by her father, in the early 1970s and remained in his employ in the 1980s. She also spent time as a teacher in Oxford.
In a rare interview in 1998, she spoke of the years spent in her father’s publishing business: ‘Both of my parents had a strong work ethic, which they instilled in me and my brothers and sisters when we were very young.
‘They also communicated a very clear understanding that advantages always come with responsibilities — that there was no such thing as a free ride.’
In 1977 she published The Dictionary Of Perfect Spelling (a book with 20,000 words aimed at secondary school pupils) with her father’s Pergamon Press. The title became an international bestseller and has been reprinted several times.
Like her twin, the 1980s and 1990s were dominated by their success in the dotcom boom. In 1982 Christine acquired Information on Demand, one of the earliest information brokers, which was later renamed Research on Demand.
In 1992, Christine created and co-authored one of the first hard-copy reference guides to the Internet: New Riders Official Internet Yellow Pages and The McKinley Internet Yellow Pages.
Continuing her streak, she co-founded software company Chiliad.
Christine is married to a Roger Malina, an astrophysicist, and the couple share three children.
According to her Linked In profile, Christine holds the position of Program Manager of Learning Technologies at The University of Texas and is a partner at big data firm Techtonic Insight Inc.
Karine, died of leukemia in childhood
Robert and Elisabeth’s sixth child, Karine, died of leukemia in 1957, aged three.
Her death shaped how the devastated parents would eventually view the birth of their daughter next daughter, Ghislaine, four years later.
Karine’s death upset the family’s ‘balance’ of ‘four boys and four girls’, Ian Maxwell explained in an interview.
‘So when my parents had another little girl [Ghislaine] it was really magic, it allowed the four boys and four girls to be recreated,’ Ian said. To add to the sense of miracle, she was born on Christmas Day.
Ian, 65, the ‘fall guy’ who defends his sister
Robert Maxwell pictured with his son Ian (left), who was taunted mercilessly by his siblings, and youngest son Kevin (right), who became Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt when a £407million bankruptcy order was made against him
Ian’s first wife was an American former college basketball star and model called Laura Marie Plumb, pictured on the first day of the pension fund trial
Taunted mercilessly at home — his father would ridicule him in front of visiting friends – Ian still decided to join the family business.
However his poor treatment continued and he was compared unfavourably to his younger brother, Kevin.
In the aftermath of their father’s death, Ian, then 35, and Kevin, 32, assumed control of the company and stood trial for their part in their father’s £460 million pension fraud.
They were acquitted, but the Maxwell name was mud for years and business opportunities were limited to overseas ventures.
Ian has given a number of interviews on his sister’s trial and case in recent months, bemoaning the treatment she has received. Pictured, on Good Morning America in March
Ian’s first wife was an American former college basketball star and model called Laura Marie Plumb.
They met when she moved to London to help set up a TV cable company. The couple married in 1991 — the year of Robert Maxwell’s death — and the ensuing media attention put Laura under great strain. On the day that Ian and Kevin were arrested, she was photographed sobbing. The couple divorced in 1996.
Next, he married Tara Dudley Smith, the daughter of a Jockey Club steward and ex-Army officer. But that relationship also ended. He found happiness with Cecilia French, Director of Public Protection at the Home Office.
Recently, after pursuing business opportunities in property, energy and telecoms, mostly outside the UK, Ian and Kevin said they’d felt the urge to do something for the greater good.
So three years ago, in the middle of the Greek financial crisis, they launched an organisation similar to the Prince’s Trust in Greece which has raised millions of euros and helped to launch several hundred businesses.
Maxwell announced in September 2018 that he and his brother Kevin had founded a UK think tank, Combating Jihadist Terrorism (CoJit), with the aim of better understanding terrorism and its causes.
He has given a number of interviews on his sister’s trial and case in recent months, bemoaning the treatment she has received.
In March 2021 he told The Times Epstein had ruined his youngest sibling’s life — and she is paying for the US authorities’ failure to prosecute him.
Kevin, 62, Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt
The cleverest son and driving force of the family, Kevin (left in 1991 and right in 2005) was crestfallen by his father’s death, saying that he ‘missed his presence and ability to dominate’
The only Maxwell sibling ever to express remorse in public for the fallout from Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Kevin made reference to the ‘moral burden I will bear for the rest of my life’. Pictured, Kevin (right) with his brother Ian on the launch of their think tank in 2018
The cleverest son and driving force of the family, Kevin was crestfallen by his father’s death, saying that he ‘missed his presence and ability to dominate’. He admitted to being totally in awe of him.
The only Maxwell sibling ever to express remorse in public for the fallout from Robert Maxwell’s crimes, Kevin made reference to the ‘moral burden I will bear for the rest of my life’.
His first wife, Pandora Warnford-Davis called her father-in-law Robert the ‘fat fraudster’.
Kevin, pictured in 2019, dreamed of making a fortune in the late 1990s but it wasn’t to be
When, in June 1992, Kevin was arrested and charged with fraud after hundreds of millions disappeared from the Maxwell empire’s employee pension funds, she appeared at the window of their home at dawn and shouted: ‘P*** off, or I’ll call the police!’ only to realise the early morning callers were the police.
In 2007, they divorced after 23 years and seven children together. Pandora was last heard of living in Oxford, renting out a room through Airbnb.
Soon after his arrest, Kevin became Britain’s biggest ever bankrupt when a £407 million bankruptcy order was made against him.
The bankruptcy was discharged in 1995, following the mandatory three years.
And, after an Old Bailey trial that cost taxpayers £12 million in legal aid, he was acquitted of fraud a year later — even though a subsequent Whitehall report concluded Kevin bore a ‘heavy responsibility’ for what happened.
In 1998, he went on to co-found media company Telemonde, a US-based commercial vehicle for what he hoped would be ‘the Maxwell comeback story’. It was not to be.
When Telemonde floated in 1999, Kevin looked on course to becoming a multi-millionaire; on paper he owned a seven per cent stake, worth £16 million.
But by 2001, the company had debts of more than £100 million and failed. Kevin then moved into high end commercial property.
His venture came tumbling down in 2011 when he was disqualified from being a director for eight years.
The brothers also co-founded their think tank in 2018.