Meet Peggy Siegal, the NYC publicist who got Jeffrey Epstein into A-list events and has been called the 'best way' to make sure your movie wins an Oscar

  • Peggy Siegal is a prominentNew York publicistwho has organized promotional screenings forfilms including “The Big Short,” “Argo,” and “The Revenant.”
  • Siegal invited registered sex offenderJeffrey Epstein to her screenings after Epstein was released from jail in 2010,The New York Times reported.
  • Siegal toldThe New York Times that she ended her relationship with Epstein at the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Peggy Siegal, one of New York’s most powerful publicists, has spent over 30 yearsconnecting New York’s tastemakers to generate press and awards for the films she represents. Until two years ago, one of those influential people was registered sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people,” Siegal toldThe New York Times. “And I think that’s what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York.”

In 2010, a year after Epstein was released from a13-month prison sentence for solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida, Siegal invited him to her events and even planned a dinner party at his house for Prince Andrew, according toThe New York Times.

Read more:The famous connections of Jeffrey Epstein, the elite wealth manager charged with sex trafficking young girls

His relationship with Siegal was not the only way Epstein, who was arrested oncharges of sex trafficking of minors on July 6, 2019, attempted to raise his profile during that time.Business Insider previously reported that former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew were also in Epstein’s network.

Keep reading for a look inside Peggy Siegal’s life — and her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

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Peggy Siegal, 71, is a New Jersey native.

Siegal’s father owned a light bulb company, according toThe New York Times, and Siegal’s mother wanted her to focus more on social-climbing than building a career. She gave Siegal the name “Peggy” because she “thought that name would sound great in the halls of Vogue magazine,” Siegaltold the newspaper, and refused to send Siegal to the same elite private high school as her son.

“Every day in high school I had to watch my brother come home in a school uniform, going to school with rich kids in New York,” Siegal said, according tothe Times. “I was going to school at Fort Lee High with the children of hairdressers and gas station attendants. This was beyond humiliating.”

“As a Jewish princess from New Jersey, I always wanted to be a queen,” Siegal toldthe Times in 2016.

She’s hosted events for journalists and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to promote films including “The Big Short,” “Argo,” and “The Revenant.”

Siegal specializes in hosting lunches, teas, and dinners for filmmakers to help them promote their work. She described the events toThe New York Times as “a press conference wrapped around a piece of chicken.”

Vanity Fair reported that Siegel is “the engine that drives” the New York Oscar circuit. “The best way to win an Oscar is to make a great film,” the magazineobserved, “but the best way to guarantee it is to get Peggy to shine a light on it.”

Siegal has a directory of 30,000 contacts that includes Barbara Walters, Martha Stewart, Michael Douglas, Darren Aronofsky, and Sofia Coppola, according to The New York Times.

Siegal’s vast social network is important to her work: Shesaid she gets big names to attend her events to help draw in journalists and film critics. For example, she got Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel to attend an event for the Hungarian Holocaust film “Son of Saul,” she toldThe New York Times, because “all Jews want to meet Elie Wiesel.”

To make things easier, she toldThe New York Times she keeps her contacts list sorted by both nationality and profession.

For the past decade, Siegal has mailed a creative Valentine’s Day card to her contacts.

Her 2019 card featured a picture of Siegal in a spacesuit imitating the movie poster for “First Man,” a copy of the card obtained byThe Hollywood Reporter shows.

“Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you to the moon and back,” the card reads.

Siegal always signs her cards and emails “XOXO Peggy,” according toThe Hollywood Reporter.

Among those contacts is registered sex offender and multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“He said he’d served his time and assured me that he changed his ways,” Siegal said about her reunion with Epstein after he was released from prison in 2010, according toThe New York Times. The pair had been friends before his prison term, so she began to add him back to the guest list of some of her events.

Siegal planned a dinner party for Epstein at his Upper East Side home. The event was attended by Britain’s Prince Andrew, Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Chelsea Handler in 2010. “The invitation was positioned as, ‘Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?'” Ms. Siegal said. Many of the guests didn’t know who the host was or about his criminal history,The New York Times reported.

A spokesperson for Siegal told Business Insider that Siegal’s relationship with Epstein was social, not professional.

Read more:Investigators say they found ‘hundreds’ of nude photos of girls in Jeffrey Epstein’s New York City mansion

Siegal toldThe New York Times that she ended her relationship with Epstein at the height of the #MeToo era in 2017.

Siegal has said that she frequently goes under the knife.

“The best way to combat gender and age discrimination is to knock them out when you walk into a room,” Siegal toldThe New York Times.

At her sixtieth and seventieth birthday parties, Siegal even passed out pamphlets with her beauty secrets, according toNew York Magazine. The most recent edition, entitled “How to Look Like Me at 70,” lists her favorite surgeons and beauty products.

She’s known for being a tough boss.

Siegal isn’t the easiest person to work with,The New York Times has reported. She has been known to yell at her subordinates and struggles to remember their names.

Many of her former employees are successful, however, going on to work for the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros., according toThe New York Times.

She lives in an Upper East Side apartment that used to belong to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ father.

[still need to address that caption — what street is that?] I’m not sure… I had to resort to what was already in Viking since Getty & Shutterstock are out. Reuters & AP didn’t have anything relevant

Siegal lives alone in a two-bedroom apartment on East 74th Street, according toThe New York Times. She said that she works seven days a week and is too focused on her career for a family.

SEE ALSO:Registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein were part of a group that made a failed $45 million attempt to buy New York Magazine in the 2000s

DON'T MISS:How Jeffrey Epstein, the mysterious hedge-fund manager arrested on sex-trafficking charges, made his fortune

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