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Photo does not show Ghislaine Maxwell with Wayfair’s ‘president of operations’

July 13, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Photo shows Ghislaine Maxwell with the president of operations at Wayfair. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The 2003 photo shows Maxwell, a British socialite and longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein, with George Bamford, founder Bamford Watch Department. Wayfair, a company that sells furniture and home goods online, currently does not have a president of operations. 

THE FACTS: On July 11, a photo circulated on Twitter with false claims that it showed Epstein’s longtime confidant  Maxwell with Bill Hutcherson, Wayfair’s president of operations. 

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“Ghislaine Maxwell with the President of Operations at Wayfair, Bill Hutcherson. Damn, she really was rubbing elbows with just about everybody, huh,” the false tweet states. The bogus claim also circulated on Facebook. 

The photo was taken on Dec. 8, 2003 as Maxwell and Bamford, whose business customizes luxury watches, attended the opening of the Asprey Flagship Store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Photographer Mark Mainz captured the photo for Getty Images. 

Maxwell, 58, was arrested July 2 at a New Hampshire estate before being moved to New York City to face federal charges accusing her of helping Epstein sexually exploit young women and girls. She has been detained at a jail in Brooklyn without bail, according to AP reporting. 

There is no “president of operations” listed on the Wayfair website. There is no employee named Bill Hutcherson on Wayfair’s executive team. 

On July 10, a conspiracy theory went viral claiming Wayfair was selling overpriced furniture as a front for child sex trafficking. Social media users posted photos of Wayfair selling mundane home items, such as throw pillows and cabinets for more than $10,000 a piece. The product listings sparked far-out theories due to the high prices and because they labeled with names that matched those of missing children. The theory linking Wayfair to sex trafficking has since been debunked. 

“There is, of course, no truth to these claims,” Wayfair said in a statement. “The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced.”

“Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536