In March 2015, Ghislaine Maxwell and her future secret husband Scott Borgerson brought her new dog walker to Central Park and issued a stern warning: He must never tell a soul that the British socialite was his employer.
The dog handler, Rasmus Alpsjö, was part of a rotation of young Swedish men hired to care for Maxwell’s Vizsla, Captain Nemo. And he claims that Borgerson, tall and with an iron grip, was particularly intimidating. “He sat me down and he told me, like, ‘The woman that you’re working for, living with, she’s a very famous woman. So you can never say who she is, and you can never bring people to the house and you have to be quiet about all this,’” Alpsjö said.
The alleged encounter is featured in a new episode of actress and filmmaker Raeden Greer’s podcast Diaries of a Pretender, which delves into her friend Alpsjö’s brief stint as Maxwell’s pet minder, hamburger griller, and fetcher of Starbucks coffee.
Alpsjö’s interview offers a rare glimpse into Maxwell’s world just before she swapped New York for Massachusetts in order to live with Borgerson. The socialite and those in her circle were paranoid about strangers and media appearing at her Upper East Side townhouse, he said.
On one occasion, Alpsjö claims, Maxwell became enraged after he allowed a delivery man to enter her home. “She's just like, ‘Who is this?’ And ‘gimme your ID.’ And then she took the delivery guy’s ID, like took a copy of it,” Alpsjö said, adding that “when she told him to leave, ’cause he was at the wrong door, she was furious at me.”
“That could have been anyone,” Maxwell allegedly scolded Alpsjö. “That could have been someone who wanted to kill me.” Alpsjö said Maxwell then declared, “I’m thinking about sending you home.” Alpsjö was terrified he’d made some kind of grave mistake, but Maxwell apparently slept on it and gave him a second chance.
Alpsjö says that he never noticed anything inappropriate about Maxwell, who is now widely known as the convicted accomplice to wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He hadn’t heard of Maxwell before taking the job and didn’t know of Epstein until reading about his 2019 arrest for trafficking minors. That year, he also saw Maxwell on the news in connection to the late multimillionaire, and finally told Greer that the 60-year-old heiress was his former boss.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Alpsjö said he didn’t Google Maxwell back then and was shocked years later to see she was accused of grooming girls for Epstein. “It was quite a surprise. I had no idea she was connected to Jeffrey Epstein,” he said.
During the one-hour podcast, Alpsjö detailed how an acquaintance in Sweden who’d also worked for Maxwell approached him about a potential gig with a “rich lady” in New York. “He said, ‘I’m gonna be there for three months. And then we need a new guy,’” Alpsjö said.
“I guess I fit the description because all the guys who had been there looked like, well, they looked really, really Swedish, like blonde, tall, blue eyes. So we all had that in common,” said Alpsjö, who was 24 when he took the job.
The ex-dog walker says Maxwell paid him $300 a week in cash and let him stay in the finished basement of her East 65th Street townhouse. He was tasked with walking and feeding Nemo and sometimes caring for Maxwell’s Yorkie named Max. He said that Maxwell enlisted Swedish men to come to New York on three-month tourist visas and return home when their term was over. Those who did another tour, Alpsjö said, would get a raise of $50 to $100.
When Alpsjö first met Maxwell, the socialite supposedly asked him, “Do you have a passport?” Alpsjö considered this might be a trick question but answered yes. “Now you have two passports,” Maxwell allegedly said. “You have to register on my website, the TerraMar Project, and you will get the second passport.” (She was referring to her oceans nonprofit’s site which allowed supporters to become “citizens” of the high seas.)
“I got those newsletters for quite a while before I unsubscribed,” Alpsjö added of TerraMar.
Maxwell allegedly invited Alpsjö back for another three months after he impressed her with his grilling skills. “She had a party at her house and I was in charge of grilling the hamburgers,” Alpsjö said. “I was so nervous, she had all her friends there and I made everybody hamburgers. And after that night I was done, I was sweaty, I was like, I was so tired, and I honestly gave all I had. And she said, ‘You’re amazing. Like how couldn’t I have seen this before? You actually [have] shown what you can do.’ She made a huge deal out of that too.”
She added, “You have to come back, you have to do a burn and turn.” The “burn and turn,” according to Alpsjö, meant he would fly back to Sweden and return to New York on another tourist visa. Another option, Maxwell allegedly told him, was to apply for a six-month tourist visa which she said required someone to have $10,000 in their bank account. “And she said it to me, like everybody has like an extra $10,000,” Alpsjö said.
Alpsjö, however, opted not to return.
It’s unclear why Maxwell wanted to hire Swedish men. “I asked her in the beginning, like why Swedish men? Have you been to Sweden? What’s your connection?” Alpsjö said, adding that Maxwell claimed she’d never been to the Scandinavian country but would love to visit. “And that was it. There was no connection.”
Alpsjö shares other observations on the podcast about his time with Maxwell, whom he viewed as powerful, connected, and confident. He said that once he purchased the wrong bread, and Maxwell marched into the store and swapped the loaf for another without paying. “Just small things, but that showed her personality,” Alpsjö recalled. “She had the right to do everything.”
Alpsjö separately shared with Greer and The Daily Beast a photo of another item someone showed him in Maxwell’s residence: A signed copy of former President Bill Clinton’s autobiography My Life. The inscription reads, “To Ghislaine with love.” He also noticed a grenade sitting on a desk in Maxwell’s office. “I thought that was weird. I mean, I was like, who has that?” Alpsjö recalled.
Meanwhile, the podcast sheds light on Dana Burns, a longtime assistant of Maxwell’s who is pictured in society photos with Epstein in 2005, flew on his plane, and was an officer of the TerraMar Project and other Maxwell companies. Court records show that Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a victim of Epstein, planned to depose Burns, who has never spoken publicly about her time in Epstein’s orbit, in 2016 as part of her defamation suit against Maxwell. (Maxwell and Giuffre reached a confidential settlement in 2017, but journalist Julie K. Brown’s book revealed the case ended in Giuffre’s favor for about $5 million. Records from the litigation, unsealed in 2019 and 2020, indicate Giuffre accused Maxwell of sending her to multiple wealthy and powerful men to be abused, and that Epstein’s Palm Beach butler claimed Maxwell snapped topless photos of “European girls” by the financier’s pool.)
In 2020, the Palm Beach County State Attorney released a cache of records related to a previous criminal case against Epstein that never made it to court. Those documents included a police report alleging that a “Dana Burns” brought her 17-year-old former roommate to Epstein’s mansion and that Epstein attempted to give the teenager a massage. According to the 2006 report, Burns allegedly told the friend that “she and Epstein have been dating each other and he has been paying all of her bills.” The roommate also claimed that Burns said “they met in New York and had been dating ever since.”
Alpsjö said that he and Burns became fast friends and that he visited her home in New Jersey over Memorial Day weekend in 2015. It was Burns who had interviewed him for the dog-walking job over Skype. She had been in charge of hiring the Swedes for Maxwell, Alpsjö said. “She was really nice,” he said in the episode, adding that it was difficult for him to learn that Burns “might be involved or knew a lot of things” about Epstein.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Alpsjö said he lost touch with Burns and that his heart sank when Greer recently showed him a photo of Burns and Epstein. Burns and her husband had a child and relocated not long after Alpsjö’s employment. “I remember we had a contact a couple of years ago,” Alpsjö said. “She said she had moved away to start a new life. That was it, she didn’t go into any details or anything. That was the last time I heard from her.”
Alpsjö said his brief turn as Captain Nemo’s walker was “an unforgettable time,” especially for a young man who had come from a mid-sized town in Sweden and got a taste of the high life in an affluent corner of New York City. “I was 24, so I was really living like a 24-year-old as well. I felt like I had no big responsibility,” he recalled. “I had a lot of fun.”
Still, he received strict and serious orders for a seemingly carefree and low-pressure job.
Alpsjö told The Daily Beast that when he met Borgerson, the onetime tech CEO handed him a business card and wrote a phone number on it. “If you get in trouble, call this number,” Borgerson allegedly said.
“It made him seem like a person who has power,” Alpsjö told us. “He presented himself as a real man. There was no room for being nervous or anything. I also had to man up, to at least try to match. I could tell he did not like soft people.” Alpsjö said a fellow Swedish dog-walker who worked for Maxwell claimed Borgerson worked for the CIA, making Maxwell’s boyfriend seem like “a mythical figure who had connections.”
Alpsjö said that during one stroll with Captain Nemo, the dog jumped on a valet and tried to bite him. According to Alpsjö, Borgerson heard about the encounter and swiftly approached him. “He took me out for a walk with the dog and he would show me how to handle the dog,” Alpsjö said. “He would act as the alpha male.”
The former dog handler also told The Daily Beast that either Maxwell or Burns instructed him not to speak to journalists who might show up with cameras. But he says he never saw any reporters near the residence. “I never thought of why,” Alpsjö said of the media warning. “She’s just a famous person but I don’t know what that was related to.”
He said his rosy memories of the work opportunity are now complicated by the accusations against Maxwell, and he’s questioning why the socialite apparently wanted to hire only young Swedish men to look after Captain Nemo.
“Was I on the way to being used? I always thought of that experience as a fun thing, cool and interesting. In the last couple of months, I had a lot of different feelings.”
“I would love to know what was the purpose in the long run,” Alpsjö said. “I think only Dana or Ghislaine can answer that.”
Toward the end of the episode, Greer divulges that she met Alpsjö while working as a bartender in Manhattan. The memory of Alpsjö using a credit card that didn’t have a name on it, only the initials G.M., is etched into her memory. “This does not happen every day in my bar,” Greer reminisces. “And you know… as I got to know you, you told me that you were working for a socialite In New York City. But the name of who it was was never discussed.”
Later that night, Alpsjö invited Greer back to Maxwell’s townhouse, which was sold for $15 million in 2016. Maxwell wasn’t home at the time and it was Alpsjö’s last day in New York. He and Greer say he didn’t disclose Maxwell’s name at the time, even as they enjoyed a drink on her balcony.
“She was out of town, but knowing now what we know about her, what she was involved in, her reaction to even a delivery guy coming in the door, what could have happened to me or you, if she had come in and seen that you had brought somebody there…?” Greer asked.
“Oh, it’s a scary thought,” Alpsjö answered. “It is. I mean, I don’t want to think that thought.”
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