On Saturday, Joi Ito resigned from his position as director of the MIT Media Lab sent an email to The New York Times.
"After paying a lot of attention in recent days and weeks," Ito wrote in the email, "I think it is best to resign as director of the media lab and as professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately "
The resignation comes after increasing concerns about Ito & # 39; s ties with Jeffrey Epstein, a serial rapist and billionaire who had been a major donor to the lab and MIT. Over the years, Epstein has donated no less than $ 800,000 to MIT-related projects, including Ito & # 39; s own venture fund.
On August 15, Ito public apologies for his cultivation of Epstein as a donor, which took place after the conviction of Epstein in 2008 for applying for a minor prostitute. His position as director became controversial in the aftermath of that apology, with some laboratory workers resigning in shock, while others offering public support.
However, a New Yorker exposé published Friday revealed that Ito had put a lot of effort into hiding Epstein's donations, typically characterized as anonymous in internal archives. According to The New Yorker, the secret was so extensive that Ito began to refer to Epstein as Voldemort, or "he who should not be mentioned."
The New Yorker piece also suggests that Epstein may have served as an intermediary between the MIT Media Lab and other philanthropists, including Bill Gates. The piece cites emails indicating that $ 2 million in donations from Gates was described as "directed by" Epstein. The name of Epstein is hidden in the official archives, which only say: "Gates gives this gift on the recommendation of a friend of his who wants to remain anonymous."
Speak to the Times, The Gates representatives pushed back against that description and said, "Any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between [Epstein and Gates] is simply not true."