Ronan Farrow isn’t done exposing Hollywood monster exec Harvey Weinstein, yet. The lengths he went to, in order to be able to carry on with his harassment, and in some cases, rape was extensive.
According to a new piece by Farrow in the New Yorker, Weinstein must have suspected that his game was about to be blown up. In the fall of 2016, he went so far as to hire private security agencies to do oppo-research on journalists and the women he felt were about to blow the whistle on his skeevy habits.
He hired two companies: Kroll, one of the largest corporate intelligence companies in the world, and Black Cube (even the name says, “spy”), a company ran by former members of the Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies.
Rose McGowan was one of Weinstein’s targets.
Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.
The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.
Weinstein’s attorney’s weren’t outside of those efforts. One of his attorneys, David Boies, personally signed the contract for Black Cube, hoping to uncover information that could block the then-upcoming Times report on Weinstein’s abuses. He did this, even as his firm was representing the Times in a libel case.
Here’s how the scam went down.
In May, 2017, McGowan received an e-mail from a literary agency introducing her to a woman who identified herself as Diana Filip, the deputy head of sustainable and responsible investments at Reuben Capital Partners, a London-based wealth-management firm. Filip told McGowan that she was launching an initiative to combat discrimination against women in the workplace and asked McGowan, a vocal women’s-rights advocate, to speak at a gala kickoff event later that year. Filip offered McGowan a fee of sixty-thousand dollars. “I understand that we have a lot in common,” Filip wrote to McGowan before their first meeting, in May, at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Filip had a U.K. cell-phone number, and she spoke with what McGowan took to be a German accent. Over the following months, the two women met at least three more times at hotel bars in Los Angeles and New York and other locations. “I took her to the Venice boardwalk and we had ice cream while we strolled,” McGowan told me, adding that Filip was “very kind.” The two talked at length about issues relating to women’s empowerment. Filip also repeatedly told McGowan that she wanted to make a significant investment in McGowan’s production company.
They didn’t stop with McGowan. They also attempted to draw in Rowan Farrow, as he retells.
Filip was persistent. In one e-mail, she suggested meeting in Los Angeles and then, when McGowan said she would be in New York, Filip said she could meet there just as easily. She also began pressing McGowan for information. In a conversation in July, McGowan revealed to Filip that she had spoken to me as part of my reporting on Weinstein. A week later, I received an e-mail from Filip asking for a meeting and suggesting that I join her campaign to end professional discrimination against women. “I am very impressed with your work as a male advocate for gender equality, and believe that you would make an invaluable addition to our activities,” she wrote, using her wealth-management firm’s e-mail address. Unsure of who she was, I did not respond.
Filip continued to meet with McGowan. In one meeting in September, Filip was joined by another Black Cube operative, who used the name Paul and claimed to be a colleague at Reuben Capital Partners. The goal, according to two sources with knowledge of the effort, was to pass McGowan to another operative to extract more information. On October 10th, the day The New Yorker published my story about Weinstein, Filip reached out to McGowan in an e-mail. “Hi Love,” she wrote. “How are you feeling? . . . Just wanted to tell you how brave I think you are.” She signed off with an “xx.” Filip e-mailed McGowan as recently as October 23rd.
There was no Diana Filip. “Diana Filip” was an alias being used by an ex-Israeli Defense Forces officer, who was originally from Eastern Europe and was employed by Black Cube.
Farrow sent photos to McGowan, who recognized her instantly.
Also, a reporter at New York magazine by the name of Ben Wallace also had a run in with this operative, but when she dealt with him, her name was “Anna.”
She contacted Wallace and suggested she had an allegation against Weinstein to share. She contacted Wallace on October 28, 2016 and wouldn’t disclose how she got his info. They met twice, and Wallace became suspicious, feeling that she was prying him for information, while giving him nothing useful for his own investigation.
He described her monologue during their second meeting, as she recounted her “ordeal,” as if she was acting in a soap opera.
When Farrow showed Wallace the images he had of her, he confirmed this was “Anna.”
Wallace wasn’t the only journalist the woman contacted. In addition to her e-mails to me, Filip also e-mailed Jodi Kantor of the Times, according to sources involved in the effort.
The U.K. cell-phone numbers that Filip provided to Wallace and McGowan have been disconnected. Calls to Reuben Capital Partners’ number in London went unanswered. As recently as Friday, the firm had a bare-bones Web site, with stock photos and generic text passages about asset management and an initiative called Women in Focus. The site, which has now been taken down, listed an address near Piccadilly Circus, operated by a company specializing in shared office space. That company said that it had never heard of Reuben Capital Partners. Two sources with knowledge of Weinstein’s work with Black Cube said that the firm creates fictional companies to provide cover for its operatives, and that Filip’s firm was one of them.
Black Cube declined to comment on the specifics of any work it did for Weinstein. The agency said in a statement, “It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work. Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the US, gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns. . . . It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates—strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world.” The contract with the firm also specified that all of its work would be obtained “by legal means and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
Weinstein apparently couldn’t sit on his secret, as he began mentioning Black Cube by name with associates and attorneys. He seemed pretty pleased with the reputation Black Cube has with digging up information for clients in Europe, Israel and the U.S.
On October 28, 2016, Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, wired to Black Cube the first hundred thousand dollars, toward what would ultimately be a six-hundred-thousand-dollar invoice. (The documents do not make clear how much of the invoice was paid). The law firm and Black Cube signed a contract that month and several others later. One, dated July 11, 2017, and bearing Boies’s signature, states that the project’s “primary objectives” are to “provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper” and to “obtain additional content of a book which currently being written and includes harmful negative information on and about the Client,” who is identified as Weinstein in multiple documents. (In one e-mail, a Black Cube executive asks lawyers retained by the agency to refer to Weinstein as “the end client” or “Mr. X,” noting that referring to him by name “will make him extremely angry.”) The article mentioned in the contract was, according to three sources, the story that ultimately ran in the Times on October 5th. The book was “Brave,” a memoir by McGowan scheduled for publication by HarperCollins in January. The documents show that, in the end, the agency succeeded only in delivering to Weinstein more than a hundred pages of transcripts and descriptions of the book, based on tens of hours of recorded conversations between McGowan and the female private investigator.
So he wasn’t just trying to shut down news articles, but the voice of his victims, as well.
Black Cube got a sweet deal. If they successfully stopped the articles from going public, as well as McGowan’s upcoming book, they got a $300,000 bonus, on top of their regular payment.
Check out the methods used by Black Cube. They really had a tight operation.
The contracts also show some of the techniques that Black Cube employs. The agency promised “a dedicated team of expert intelligence officers that will operate in the USA and any other necessary country,” including a project manager, intelligence analysts, linguists, and “Avatar Operators” specifically hired to create fake identities on social media, as well as “operations experts with extensive experience in social engineering.” The agency also said that it would provide “a full time agent by the name of ‘Anna’ (hereinafter ‘the Agent’), who will be based in New York and Los Angeles as per the Client’s instructions and who will be available full time to assist the Client and his attorneys for the next four months.” Four sources with knowledge of Weinstein’s work with Black Cube confirmed that this was the same woman who met with McGowan and Wallace.
Black Cube also agreed to hire “an investigative journalist, as per the Client request,” who would be required to conduct ten interviews a month for four months and be paid forty thousand dollars. Black Cube agreed to “promptly report to the Client the results of such interviews by the Journalist.”
Speaking of that journalist, he contacted McGowan in January of this year, recording their conversation without telling her, then shuffling that information back to Black Cube.
He also reached out to several other Weinstein victims, including actress Annabella Sciorra. Sciorra became suspicious and quickly ended the conversation.
Weinstein also enlisted other journalists to uncover information that he could use to undermine women with allegations. A December, 2016, e-mail exchange between Weinstein and Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, shows Howard sharing with Weinstein material obtained by one of his reporters, as part of an effort to help Weinstein disprove McGowan’s allegation of rape. In one e-mail, Howard sent Weinstein a list of contacts. “Let’s discuss next steps on each,” he wrote. After Weinstein thanked him, Howard described a call that one of his reporters made to Elizabeth Avellan, the ex-wife of the director Robert Rodriguez, whom Rodriguez left to have a relationship with McGowan.
Avellan told me that she remembered the interview. Howard’s reporter “kept calling and calling and calling,” she said, and also contacted others close to her. Avellan finally called back because “I was afraid people might start calling my kids.” In a long phone call, the reporter pressed her for unflattering statements about McGowan. She insisted that the call be off the record, and the reporter agreed. The reporter recorded the call, and subsequently passed the audio to Howard.
He must have been really stressed about McGowan.
In subsequent e-mails to Weinstein, Howard said, “I have something AMAZING . . . eventually she laid into Rose pretty hard.” Weinstein replied, “This is the killer. Especially if my fingerprints r not on this.” Howard then reassured Weinstein, “They are not. And the conversation . . . is RECORDED.” The next day, Howard added, in another e-mail, “Audio file to follow.” (Howard denied sending the audio to Weinstein.) Avellan told me that she would not have agreed to coöperate in efforts to discredit McGowan. “I don’t want to shame people,” she said. “I wasn’t interested. Women should stand together.”
Dirty. So dirty.
These are just some of the details of Black Cubes’ work for Weinstein.
We haven’t even touched on Kroll and their work. Believe me, it’s just as mercenary.
This is the kind of thing you expect out of intense thrillers, not from supposedly civilized people.
If it teaches anything, it’s that monsters exist.