Maria K. Farmer
|Education||New York Academy of Art 1995|
Santa Clara University 1992
|Known for||Advocate of justice for survivors of sexual assault|
Maria Farmer (born 1970) is an American visual artist known for filing the earliest known criminal complaint to law enforcement in 1996 about the conduct of the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Farmer, a figurative painter, had also described her and her sister Annie's experiences of sexual misconduct from Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell to a journalist in 2002 but the publication refrained from including it in their accounts.
Early life and education
Maria K. Farmer was born in 1970 in Paducah, Kentucky to Frank Farmer and Janice Swain. She has two younger brothers and two younger sisters. The family lived for a time in Phoenix, Arizona.
Farmer attended Santa Clara University and graduated in 1992. She relocated to New York City in 1993 to study at the New York Academy of Art. She graduated with her master's degree from the Academy in 1995. She furthered her studies and attended a post-graduate workshop with Erik Fischl at the Santa Fe Art Institute in 1996.
At her graduate exhibition in 1995, the school's dean Eileen Guggenheim introduced Farmer to both Jeffrey Epstein, who served as a board member at the Academy from 1987 - 1994, and to his companion Ghislaine Maxwell. Although Farmer had already sold her painting for $12,000, Epstein reportedly wanted to buy it at the reception for half price and Guggenheim urged Farmer to cut him a deal.
In the summer of 1995, Farmer was one of four artists chosen to attend an all expenses paid trip to Santa Fe. Several of the artists reported attending a dinner party hosted by Epstein and Maxwell with Guggenheim that was designed to test the artists boundaries within a competitive environment where the women were promised that one would be rewarded with a major commissioned artwork for Epstein's New Mexico property. However, no commission materialized.
Farmer was recruited to work for Epstein, first briefly as his art advisor and then at the front desk signing in "tradesmen, decorators, and friends." She observed a large number of young girls coming and going from the house and stated that Maxwell would leave on frequent missions to go get girls for Jeffrey. Farmer also described Epstein showing her the security room at his New York mansion (the Herbert N. Straus House) which was equipped with extensive video surveillance devices. Farmer recalled meeting Donald Trump and Ivana Trump in addition to seeing lawyer Alan Dershowitz regularly visiting Epstein's New York home.
In the summer of 1996, Farmer was commissioned to create two works for the film set of "As Good as It Gets" and Epstein offered her space to create the work as and artist-in-residence at a guest home on Les Wexner's property in New Albany, Ohio. Farmer has stated, in an affidavit filed in support of a defamation lawsuit between Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Alan Dershowitz, that Epstein and Maxwell came to the property in Ohio and sexually assaulted her. She managed to escape into another part of the house and barricaded herself inside by pushing furniture up against the door. Then she contacted members of her family, her mentor artist Eric Fischl, and reached out to authorities. Security guards on the property told her that she could not leave and she was held against her will for 12 hours. Farmer was eventually able to depart the scene when her father arrived, after driving from Kentucky to Ohio, to pick her up.
Later that summer, Farmer learned that her younger sister Annie had also been assaulted by Epstein when Annie had visited him at his Zorro Ranch in New Mexico. In a lawsuit filed in 2019 against Epstein's estate, Annie Farmer revealed that Epstein had groped, harassed, and crawled into bed with her in New Mexico whereas Maxwell had given her an inappropriate topless massage.
Maria Farmer went to the NYPD and the FBI in 1996 to report the assault. The authorities did not take action. In 2002, Farmer, her sister, and her mother also shared their stories with journalist Vicky Ward, then at Vanity Fair, who was writing a profile on Epstein. Despite the Farmer sisters and their mother giving voice to the misconduct, their mention was excluded from the final story by then editor Graydon Carter. NPR and the New York Times reported that Carter had been pressured by Epstein at the time of publication to omit mention of the Farmer sisters; Carter's residence and the Vanity Fair office had each received ominous signals (a bullet and a cat's head) at times corresponding to when they might have further investigated Epstein.
The art collector Stuart Pivar confirmed that he learned of Farmer's experience shortly after it occurred. Artist Eric Fischl also corroborated Farmer's account and confirmed being contacted by her. Maxwell threatened Farmer repeatedly after the event in an effort to enforce her silence. Following the Vanity Fair profile on Epstein in which editors decided not to publish Farmer's account, she has stated that the threats intensified, leading her to leave the New York art world.
Farmer has been working on a series of paintings called “The Survivors Project” consisting of portraits of survivors of Epstein's abuse. She has stated that the harm experienced by countless others could have been prevented if authorities had listened when she first reported the abuse. An exhibition of Farmer's artwork is scheduled to open on March 14, 2020 at the Gavlak Gallery in Los Angeles.
Farmer reportedly lives in Austin, Texas.
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