“After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks,” Ito wrote in the email,”I believe it is better that I resign as director of the media lab and as a scientist and worker of the Institute, effective immediately.”
The resignation comes after concern over Ito’s ties with billionaire, a rapist and Jeffrey Epstein who was a donor to MIT and to the lab. Up to $800,000 was donated by epstein to jobs such as Ito venture fund, through time.
On August 15th, Ito publicly apologized for his cultivation of Epstein for a donor, which happened after Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting an underage prostitute. His position as manager became controversial in the wake of this apology, with a few laboratory workers resigning in shock, while others provided a public show of support.
But, a New Yorker exposé published Friday revealed that Ito had gone to significant lengths to hide Epstein’s contributions, typically marking them as anonymous in internal documents.
The New Yorker bit also indicates Epstein may have functioned as an intermediary between the MIT Media Lab and other philanthropists, such as Bill Gates. The piece cites mails showing that $2 million in donations from Gates were described as”led by” Epstein. Epstein’s name is hidden in the official documents, which state just,”Gates is making this gift in the recommendation of a friend of his, who wants to remain anonymous.”
Speaking to the Times, Gates’s agents pushed back against this description, saying,”any mention of a business venture or private connection between [Epstein and Gates] is not really correct.”