Jeffrey Epstein’s New Mexico ranch is on the market ready to be sold at a price tag of more than $27.5 million.
But it is not quite clear who will get the money when it is sold. That’s because the sale has been tied up in a year-long court battle in Santa Fe, New Mexico, while Epstein’s other properties throughout the country have been sold and the money has been passed out to victims.
And a fund that was dispersing the money to the victims has closed shop.
"It is just kind of disgusting, the realization about what occurred in that building," said New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia-Richard.
The estate was bought and used by Epstein in 1993. Women have come forward saying they were sexually assaulted at this ranch.
After Epstein died by suicide two years ago, a federal court ordered that all of Epstein's assets be sold ... and the proceeds go to the victims. And that has happened with his properties in New York and Florida. But it hasn't happened in New Mexico.
"For some reason, it's a mystery of why it's taken so long,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
The mystery lies in a religious nonprofit that claimed it owned Epstein's ranch.
For a year, this estate has been tied up in a legal dispute ... unable to be sold.
"A so-called church in Florida has claimed that they are the owners of the Epstein ranch,” said legal expert John Day. "They claim that they, for the price of $200, that Epstein deeded this property in Santa Fe County."
The religious organization 'Love and Bliss' provided proof in the form of a deed.
But attorneys representing Epstein's estate have alleged the signature was forged and it was copied and pasted from another document.
"In other words, nothing could have happened to that ranch,” Day said. “There could not have been a sale while there was this cloud on the title."
Trying to get a hold of the nonprofit was challenging. For nearly a year, the court waited to make a ruling. The court tried to get a hold of the nonprofit to tell them they had been sued. Instead of anything legal, they got email messages from the nonprofit claiming they needed nine months to find an attorney because of COVID-19.
"The idea that you can't find a lawyer in the United States because of COVID-19 certainly raises the possibility that this is not exactly on the level,” Day said.
In one of those emails they told the judge she would go down in history as "the best judge in Santa Fe … a true role model and an American hero" if she gave the property to them. The organization said they would give a “large percentage” back to the state.
Sister station KOAT did more digging into the nonprofit and found from IRS records, they have not filed tax returns since they were formed four years ago.
There is no website and its address comes back to a home.
"These were shady characters trying to slow up the process and club the title," Balderas said.
In every other state, there were few problems liquidating Epstein's assets. The same nonprofit made a similar claim on his estate in Florida. But, within months a judge there ordered the property to go to Epstein's estate.
Eventually, the court-ordered fund distributed $125 million to the victims compensation program that had been set up.
After that money was distributed, the fund closed shop in August. Meanwhile, back in New Mexico, the dispute over the property continued.
The nonprofit failed to formally appear or answer to the court. Just two weeks ago, a Santa Fe County judge issued an order giving the property back to Epstein's estate.
But with the victim's compensation program dissolved, where would the money from the sale go?
"Epstein victims fund apparently has completed its work, has shut down and doesn't exist," Day said. "So if the estate sells, if the ranch sells, the money goes where we don't know, it's a very good question."
KOAT reached out to Santa Fe attorney Dylan O'Reilly, who is representing the Epstein estate. He did not want to do an interview.
When asked if the money would go back to the victims, he said, “I don't know the answer to that. Like everything else, it will go to what the law requires."
The Epstein property is now on the market. KOAT paid the real estate agent a visit to see if there are any buyers and was told by a staff member it was still for sale.
So what happens to the nonprofit that tied all of this up in court?
"I firmly believe that a law enforcement agency at the federal level has to be involved and that all of these transactions need to be reviewed by a court judge so that there be integrity and reliability in this process," Balderas said.
And, what should happen to this estate if it does sell? Garcia-Richard has an idea.
"I hope that the buildings are actually torn down," Garcia-Richard said. "What we associate with the memory of those buildings. I believed it to look at them are probably painful for a number of young women who have to constantly see them over and over again."
And if the buildings are not demolished, "whoever buys that property is going to have to deal with the ghosts that come with it," Day said.