Ghislaine Maxwell appears to have undergone a makeover ahead of the jury selection in her sex trafficking trial, sporting dyed hair and smart clothes in a New York court on Monday.
The British socialite seemed relaxed and confident on Monday in the penultimate hearing before her highly anticipated November 29 trial, smiling and joking with her legal team.
Ms Maxwell, 59, who attended previous court hearings handcuffed and in an oversized blue prison uniform, wore a black turtleneck jumper and smart grey trousers.
The sudden change in appearance comes days before prospective jurors will see the heiress for the first time. Ms Maxwell will be hoping to convince a jury that she is not guilty of grooming women and young girls for her one-time boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, to abuse.
The daughter of disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell denies all of the counts, which carry sentences of up to 80 years.
Ghislaine Maxwell in 2013
Southern District of New York Judge Alison Nathan will on Tuesday begin the process of whittling down 213 people to 12 plus six alternates. Ms Maxwell’s team had fought to keep sealed the questionnaire filled out by the candidates, but their request was rejected.
They argued Ms Maxwell would not be able to get a fair trial because of the “intrusive” and “overwhelming” media coverage of her case.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers have filed numerous complaints about conditions at the federal prison in Brooklyn she has been held since her arrest last July, saying she was losing weight and her hair was thinning. However, there was no sign of any mistreatment in court on Monday.
“When she walked into the courthouse, I thought, wow – she looks the same as always but then realised: no, she actually looks better than she did about five years ago,” said Victoria Ward, journalist and host of the “Chasing Ghislaine” podcast, who has met Ms Maxwell.
“Maxwell didn’t look malnourished. She looked young and well.”
Jane Rosenberg, an in-house court sketch artist who has been covering the case, noted the difference from her previous appearance in April, speculating Ms Maxwell may have taken advantage of the hair dye on sale at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center’s commissary.
Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, during a news conference in New York on July 2, 2020
The US Bureau of Prisons indeed lists hair dye as one of its items for sale, at $9.10 (£7). Ms Maxwell said she had been cutting her hair with nail clippers provided by guards at the jail, according to quotes obtained by documentary filmmaker Daphne Barak and shared with the Mail on Sunday.
Ms Maxwell listened intently during the hour-long hearing on Monday to resolve issues related to jury selection, leaning in close to one of her attorneys and whispering into his ear.
In an intimate moment, a second member of her defence team, Jeffrey Pagliuca, stroked Ms Maxwell’s forehead before brushing hair from her face.
A third attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, even rubbed Ms Maxwell’s shoulders at one point.
Ms Maxwell turned to the public gallery on several occasions to smile at her sister, Isabel, who regularly attends the hearings.
Epstein’s high-profile connections with world leaders like Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have put a worldwide microscope on Ms Maxwell’s trial.
Reports that investigators seized Ms Maxwell’s address books sparked speculation that the trial could explore Epstein’s connections, but the judge has made clear there will be no name-dropping at trial.
She said only certain pages of an address book, which shows a section naming the alleged victims under the heading "massage", will come into evidence.
Judge Nathan blocked prosecutors’ attempt to introduce emails they said would show Ms Maxwell tried to select women for other men.