Kyle Deschanel, the Rothschild Who Wasn’t
By Nate Freeman
There’s a three-story, three-bedroom town house at 514 Broome Street in Manhattan with an expansive ivy-laden terrace. Entry is through a dining room swathed in exposed brick. A dramatic wooden staircase services the second floor. Venture to the basement and you’ll find a wine cellar big enough for 2,500 bottles. It’s the only freestanding home in SoHo and it’s available. Its owners, the personal injury attorney Seth Harris and his wife, Bonnie, put it on the market in 2017, two years after buying it. Alyssa Brody, their broker, once hosted a churros and cocoa day to lure in potential buyers. In February 2022, Brody went on NBC’s Open House hoping someone with deep enough pockets might be watching.
“It’s warm and cozy, with just the right touch of drama,” Brody said, running her fingers over a wooden cabinet.
Months later, a would-be buyer appeared out of nowhere—and SoHo central casting. Kyle Deschanel, a nattily suited, funny, and charmingly stubbled man with piercing blue eyes, expressed interest in the home as a rent-to-buy proposition. At the time, Deschanel told people he worked for a discreet family office that had space on Wall Street and in Washington, DC, and was in the process of closing a deal to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into Byju’s, a Bangalore-based education tech start-up.
During the early years of the Coronavirus pandemic, when the global rich seemed somehow only to get richer, Oxshott Capital, where Deschanel said he was a managing director, had quickly burnished its reputation. According to an investment deck he circulated, Stampede, the film studio founded by former Warner Bros. studio head Greg Silverman, tapped Oxshott to help raise $120 million. When Axiomatic, the gaming firm backed by Hollywood executive Peter Guber and Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, was looking to raise funds and possibly spin off its esports platform, Team Liquid, Deschanel told others that it brought on Oxshott as the investment manager. Deschanel claimed to maintain lucrative business ties overseas, especially to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its state oil company Aramco.
After months of moving between hotels and various leases in the West Village, Deschanel needed a real hub. Christina Cochran, a party planner at Van Wyck & Van Wyck who told me she was Deschanel’s best friend at the time—he and all of her friends called her “Tini”—had joined him house hunting.
“I left work to come look at three apartments with him, and there were two just generally big white lofts in SoHo—and then there was this townhouse,” Tini said. “I was obsessed with it. He was like, ‘I love those antique houses.’ And I was like, ‘This is it.’”
Deschanel plunked down the cash for the $25,000-a-month rental, telling Tini there was a family trust.
“I’m hot and rich and nice and smart—and have a KILLER dick,” he once texted a friend.
“He said he’s in charge of it because he’s the man of the family,” Tini recalled. “So he had to move around some money and then paid for it.”
Deschanel didn’t otherwise talk about his trust, which would have been in character for a guy who grew up at 820 Fifth Avenue, as he told people he had. The address, a prewar citadel of old money, still appeared on his driver’s license. If you’re that rich, friends and acquaintances gathered, you don’t need to talk about money, or family, or homes. It’s gauche. Occasionally he’d break the wealth code, like when grief got to him. When billionaire socialite Lily Safra, who had lived in the building, died in June 2022, he texted Tini.
“She was my godmother—I was super close to her,” he said.
He was trying to get to Geneva for her funeral.
“She was the most fab ever, killed all her husbands,” Deschanel went on. “Just true goals.”
And sometimes he’d show his cards as reassurance. On their first date, he offered a woman we’ll call Donna a trip to Assateague Island in Virginia to see the wild ponies.
“I was calling my mom, I was calling everyone, and I told him, ‘I'm pretty sure this is how murder mysteries start, so I do not want to go on this trip with you,’” Donna said.
He sent Donna a picture of his passport, which said that Kyle’s real name was Paul-Kyle de Rothschild Deschanel. When pressed, he would admit he was a Rothschild, from a clan that centuries ago created modern banking and carries forth a name synonymous with outrageous wealth.
“He was like, ‘I don’t think you realize who my family is.’ And I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” said Donna, who went on to live with Deschanel for nearly a year.
“Don’t worry,” he told her. “Money is not an issue ever with me.”
In 2022, when Kyle Deschanel leased his SoHo dream mansion, he was nearly ubiquitous in downtown nightlife circles. Around this time, Emilio Vitolo was hosting parties at his family’s restaurant on Houston Street, Emilio’s Ballato, where Rihanna has popped in for carryout and Lenny Kravitz once bought a new awning in lieu of a tip. Vitolo turned the semi-private back room into a full-on club that served food and let patrons hang until the wee hours. Kyle was there—he was one of Emilio’s oldest friends, he told people, they grew up together. They went to Catholic School in the West Village. Another close pal was Adam Moonves, the son of former CBS czar Leslie Moonves, who’s a part owner at the Chinatown hot spot Mr. Fong’s. Deschanel was especially close with Dylan Hales, the Australian entrepreneur who ran the restaurant Little Ways and the bar the Flower Shop. Nightlife photographers caught Deschanel hobnobbing with the Australian model Bambi Northwood-Blyth at the bar’s anniversary party last March.
Deschanel said he was on the board of trustees for SameYou, the brain-health charity started by the Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and her mother, Jenny—“my dear friends,” Kyle put it in an email. He hosted events for the American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. At the Central Park Conservancy Hat Luncheon, he introduced himself to late General Electric CEO Jack Welch’s widow. He took dates to Majorelle, the swank boîte in the Upper East Side’s Lowell Hotel.
“Every time we went there, he knew every single person,” said another former girlfriend we’ll call Cara. “And a bill never came to the table there, just ever.”
Often, his beneficiaries said, he paid with his Oxshott Capital credit card. He clanged down the golden AmEx for hours of cocktails and caviar at The Nines. Or at Cipriani, around the corner from the house. He would take dates to the Major Food Group restaurants at the Seagram Building, The Grill or the Lobster Club, where Wagyu runs $42 an ounce.
“He would always say, ‘It’s so hard to date in New York because all these girls are just after my money,’” said Tracy Sokat, an actor and model who knew Deschanel socially.
He had a sort of unforgettable quality about him—he was worldly, well-connected, conversant in the dialect restricted to the old-Europe families that drift through certain stretches of Italy and the South of France. But he was never boring, or overly refined.
“I’m hot and rich and nice and smart—and have a KILLER dick,” he once texted a friend.
He told some friends he grew up in Manhattan, enrolled in Le Rosey in Switzerland, and did stints in schools in Japan and Sweden. He rowed crew at Princeton, he said, but was anything but a staid prepster—he frequented the New Society for Wellness, a shame-free sex club in SoHo. He had a self-aware streak, a rarity in such circles.
“Meeting Apollo’s family office group—changing into dirtbag clothes,” he texted a third woman he dated we’ll call Miranda. His attire for the supposed meeting with the private equity firm that has more than $500 billion in assets was a pair of tinted aviators and a flat-brimmed Modelo beer baseball cap.
“Sunglasses or no sunglasses?” he asked. “Which shows more ‘I don’t give a fuck’?”
His general demeanor was very much present on social media, primarily his very active Instagram handle, @degeneratesnoopy. It mostly consisted of memes built on old “Peanuts” cartoon capsules with coke jokes and un-PC stuff written in the speech bubble. Bio: “Gentlemen with Edge. ‘Toxic - but like in a fun way.’ My preferred pronoun is Daddy.”
Deschanel said he was on the road often, in Washington, or Dubai, or London, and, frequently, Riyadh. He told people that he worked for Aramco’s parent entity, the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, and effectively was reporting directly to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. When new friends googled “Kyle Deschanel,” an aramco.com email address would pop up. He took late-night calls in Arabic.
He’d casually mention his connections to certain global movers and shakers. On a group chat called “Billion Dollar Blowies,” he happily proffered a list of potential link-ups: a rising star trader, a couple of Blackstone hitters, the son of a well-known pro sports team owner. (“Daddy is a billionaire—he’s annoying but eligible,” Deschanel said.)
Eva Evans, a filmmaker based in New York and Los Angeles, dated Deschanel for a few months in 2022, after meeting him in the back room at Ballato’s.
“He’s very, very smart, and he’s very funny—and he is very strange, in somewhat of an entertaining way,” Evans told me. “Almost an encyclopedic knowledge of a lot of different things.”
Evans remembered particularly his tossed-off asides, which often came out late. Occasionally, he’d even bring up his family.
“Sorry I’m three drinks in and on ketamine but it’s no excuse,” he texted Evans. “If I ever say ‘my family invented money’ again, whilst funny, kill me.”
He wasn’t conventionally handsome. He had a strange gait, a weird look, and could be insecure. Recipients thought he’d Facetuned photos of himself before sending, chiseling his jawline, sharpening his features. In person, he was pure charisma.
“I thought he was kind of ugly, and a little chubby, and just gross, overall, and I was not interested,” said one woman we’ll call Genevieve. “He was with this model, who I recognized, that is pretty famous, and yeah, then I kept running into him. He was very, very charming, and so that’s how we started hooking up.”
It helped that he had Broome Street.
“People were just constantly using him for afters,” Miranda said. “That was just where the party was always at.”
Bella Thorne, whom Deschanel claimed to have dated for a time, came by. His old friend Mischa Barton was always around—there’s a cute selfie of the pair in his Broome Street bathroom mirror. There was a top note of top models: Sophie Sumner, Teddy Quinlivan, Nina Agdal, Rachel Hilbert. Robert Pattinson and Suki Waterhouse were at the 2023 New Year’s Eve party, where a chef dressed as a French maid and a seated dinner turned into an all-night rager. (Pattinson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.) Leonardo DiCaprio showed up to the house late one night with Richie Akiva. The nights were always late. He was, friends said, self-aware about that too.
“That was the weird thing—I feel like drugs, and being a degenerate, it was a big thing for him,” Evans said.
“He would text you five different times, 3 a.m., 5 a.m., 8, being like, ‘Let’s do drugs. Let’s do this,’” said a woman we’ll call Ashley. “He was just very pushy.”
Camille Orders, a model who runs a boutique events consultancy, recalled a lunch at Balthazar where Deschanel claimed he had just come from the headquarters of the United Nations, working as an envoy from Saudi Arabia.
“And then he immediately goes, ‘Do you want to do a bump?’” Orders recalled. “And I was like, ‘No.’ It’s a Monday afternoon. It’s like 2 p.m. I guess there are a lot of businessmen that do bumps during the day on a weekday, but somebody who works for the government probably would be regularly tested.”
Anyone seeking hard intel on Kyle Deschanel found the website of Oxshott Capital Partners. “We leverage deep global relationships including in Asia and the Middle East to source proprietary strategic and investment opportunities for our Family Office and select clients,” it said, listing an address on K Street in Washington, DC.
According to records, Oxshott was legally incorporated in Delaware in 2018 by a Rockland County–based man named Yosef Meir Stern, who goes by Erne. He had previously worked for a Nanuet, New York, pharmaceutical company called Medwiz Solutions and got his broker’s license in 2019. Stern was a FINRA-registered broker-dealer, but struggled a bit in the first year to convert capital to deals, striking modest paydays mostly when he was able to connect with start-ups abroad. In 2019, Kyle Deschanel reached out to Stern through a mutual friend, looking to put together some funds for an investment. The deal fell apart, but Stern saw potential.
“He gave off the impression that he was an ultra-wealthy individual with a deep Rolodex of influential people, and these were contacts that would only come from a person with status,” Stern said in a statement provided by his spokesperson.
A person who works in finance who we’ll call Brian, and knew Deschanel socially, told me family offices, the kind of which Deschanel claimed to represent, are particularly alluring in fundraising. “That’s the golden goose, because raising capital from an institution, you’ve got investment committees,” he said. “If you’re trying to raise money and you find out that there is a brand-new family office with a couple of billion dollars that are just sitting there to be taken, you’re taking him to dinners, you’re taking him to shows, you’re taking him to concerts, you’re taking him to clubs. You’re wooing him.”
Deschanel summed up his targets in an Instagram mention to Evans, after casually mentioning that he was “working on buying a piece of Twitter with Elon.” He was texting in May 2022, weeks after Musk made public his desire to own Twitter, and perhaps that man’s unbridled ambition was rubbing off on Deschanel. He described his mission at Oxshott thusly: “Late stage venture—and unicorns. Essentially private companies worth over a billion dollars.”
According to a 2023 SEC filing, Oxshott had $67 million in assets under management.
By 2021, Deschanel was establishing a reputation as a dealmaker—at least in the very specific circles in which Wall Street and New York nightlife overlap. That December, he emailed a business acquaintance from his Oxshott account, asking him to take a look at a term sheet and an investor deck for Axiomatic, an esports venture that, among other investment opportunities, could leverage the perceived value of its gaming platform, Team Liquid. The spun-off Team Liquid could either be acquired or prepare an IPO, in 18 to 24 months. The minimum buy-in was $2 million; the returns would be up to three times that. The investments would be deposited into a special purpose vehicle incorporated by Oxshott called Red Shield Investment 11 LLC. (Isaak Elchanan, the 16th-century Rothschild ancestor whose dwelling gave the clan its name, lived in a building in the Frankfurt Judengasse called Haus zum Roten Schild: House of the Red Shield.)
A source sent me a screenshot of a text conversation between Deschanel and a potential investor in the deal, a person in banking who was dating a woman who ran membership at a very desirable private club.
“Do you know anyone who’ll lend me 10-40 mm bucks for 2 weeks? Need to fund my deal and our capital doesn’t free up until January,” Deschanel wrote. “I’ll give you lots of monies.”
“Possibly but what is my pitch?” the potential investor responded.
“We’re a family office, buying 10% of a company called axiomatic. We already invested 30, and the company wants their remaining 40 this year. Our equity bucket is tapped for the year, so I need a bridge.”
Deschanel added, after the pitch: “Who’d you secks last night?”
Some time later, Deschanel started shopping around an investor deck for a new entertainment company, Stampede Ventures. Founded in 2018 by Greg Silverman, the former Warner Bros. production head, Stampede wanted to handle independent productions and turn them into global hits. “Over the next 12–24 months, we are trying to make shows in 25 countries,” Silverman told Variety in 2021.
“This is a real deck. I’ve seen decks before. This is a real deck.”
Deschanel started sending out a 47-page investor deck indicating that Stampede had retained Oxshott along with a media partner to arrange $120 million worth of financing on behalf of the company. Plus, the deck said, Stampede already had movies in the pipeline, including an adaptation of the video game Dance Dance Revolution. Target leads: Channing Tatum and Zendaya. Tagline: “The world is on the brink of destruction—only by uniting in dance, can humanity be saved.”
A New York–based film producer I spoke to had met Deschanel a few years earlier when he was brought in as a potential partner in a major Los Angeles real estate deal. (“He came in and said, ‘I’m the Rothschild family owner buying this building,’” the producer recalled.) The deal didn’t go through, but they continued to run into each other at nightclubs or around SoHo, often at the Israeli restaurant 19 Cleveland.
The producer told me that when he needed a licensed broker-dealer partner for a potential deal earlier this year, he kicked Deschanel and Oxshott’s tires. “They had real licenses—that checked out,” he said. “The great pitch was that this is a front for the Rothschild family office.” He asked what else the company was offering, and Deschanel’s colleague sent along a deal sheet that included two separate opportunities to buy into SpaceX, opportunities in the Palantir-associated defense product company Anduril, as well as a UK-based real estate technology start-up called Kterio. The asks were aggressive—$50 to $60 million to get in on the HR systems unicorn Rippling, a $50 million direct transfer on TikTok developer ByteDance, an available $50 million buy on the Swedish fintech company Klarna, done through an Oxshott vehicle.
Deschanel also began talks with a Toronto-based company that uses AI in the travel industry. According to a deck that was shared with Oxshott, projected revenue would skyrocket in the years to come, from $1 million in 2024 to $113 million in 2027. An executive at the company, whom we’ll call Patrick, said that he initiated contact with Deschanel after another New York–based investor put them in touch with Oxshott. The start-up sent Deschanel their deck, gave them access to the data room, and arranged the customary NDAs.
Patrick was optimistic—especially after Deschanel told him more about his family. He booked a flight to New York to meet with Deschanel at Ladurée. “Breakfast was like 300 bucks or something insane,” Patrick said. He recalled that Deschanel burst into negotiations like a hurricane.
“He always acted like he was very important, he acted like the money was irrelevant, he acted like $5 million is nothing—his disposition was consistent with other billionaires that we’ve had as investors in our company,” Patrick said. “They like it or they don’t. They’re very binary.”
Ultimately they couldn’t come to terms. The start-up was looking for $2 or $3 million but Deschanel wanted to go in for more.
“They were looking to come in at a follow-on round for another $10 million in total,” Patrick said. “Kyle had said to me, that round was too small for him.”
Patrick said he left the December meeting optimistic, and they stayed in touch, communicating as recently as May of this year.
Then there was the Byju’s deck. The India-based ed-tech service had been on a tear since 2016 when Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan invested $3.4 million in the company. By June 2021, the company was valued at $16.5 billion.
Deschanel told people he was working directly with Anita Kishore, Byju’s 33-year-old chief strategy officer, on its next funding round. He was also getting, he said, help from his sister, Gabrielle de Rothschild Deschanel, an attorney at Citadel based in Chicago. In addition to an Oxshott colleague who was leading the Byju’s push, his sister was copied on several emails relating to the deal.
“Byju’s, I mean, it is a proper deck,” said Brian, the finance source who was looking into working with him to raise funds. “This is a real deck. I’ve seen decks before. This is a real deck.”
In September 2021, Oxshott reportedly clinched a deal to lead the fundraising round for Byju’s Series F, which would bring in a total of $297 million. Regulatory filings with the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs showed that the investment was the equivalent of $160 million at the time. A leading Indian business outlet, Economic Times, mentioned Oxshott several times in a 2021 article about the deal. That December, Reuters reported that Churchill Capital founder Michael Klein—a longtime adviser to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and Aramco—was exploring a deal with Byju’s to raise $4 billion to take the company public via a SPAC valuing it at $48 billion.
Those who knew him said that Deschanel exhibited outward signs of stress around this time. At the start of 2022, Donna described watching him take many phone calls with backers, often in Arabic. He took visits to Washington, DC, telling her he was meeting with ambassadors, she said.
“There were a few very large Middle Eastern investors that he introduced to Oxshott,” Stern said in his statement. “He represented that these investors stemmed from his Saudi connections.”
Deschanel told people he looped in his sister at Citadel, as legal counsel. He was working the phones nonstop. Brian, the source in finance, said that a number of investors turned him down citing, vaguely, red flags.
According to a New Delhi reporter for the Singapore-based financial blog the Morning Context, the Byju’s board introduced a resolution in March 2022, stating that the LLC providing the funds wouldn’t be Oxshott, but a related entity called DRD Holdings. (In emails Kyle would sign his full last name as De Rothschild Deschanel.) In July 2022, the outlet reported that the DRD Holdings/Oxshott funds never made it to Byju’s. The company told the Morning Context that Oxshott had never been the lead on the investment round but the allotted shares for the company were still outstanding. The same month, Indian member of Parliament Karti P. Chidambaram said that he was referring an investigation into Byju’s finances to the government’s fraud regulator, but Byju’s held firm and said that the funds would be delivered in August.
Donna said Deschanel seemed to be in constant conversation with his sister. At one point, Donna asked why he couldn’t just have his family, whom he had time and again represented as institutionally wealthy, help him out. She said Deschanel told her that his family didn’t like to use its own money on such deals when it could find outside investors.
Deschanel’s social acquaintances at the time said that he continued to party throughout this period. According to Donna, he turned up to her workplace after having been at an after-hours until dawn, residue in his nose. He would spend time at the new Tao Group–owned establishments at the recently opened Moxy Hotel on the Bowery, often hanging with Dylan Hales, who had been brought in to run the spaces. Little Ways was a particular favorite. In February, Hales cohosted Deschanel’s birthday party where the guest of honor secured more than half the tables and invited hundreds to celebrate. (According to the list on the invitation sheet, Leonardo DiCaprio RSVP’d no, saying, “Happy day my guy. All love 💙”. A representative for DiCaprio did not reply to a request for comment.)
By early 2023 Byju’s announced that Oxshott had withdrawn from the funding round. Around this time, friends say Deschanel started to hit them up for cash, asking a person for $250,000 and promising a return within a week. He put Seamless charges on a girlfriend’s card until she caught him and walked out of the house. He used Tini’s credit card to pay for Ubers and ran up tabs. She confronted him. He denied it. But, she said, “I knew it was him—you don’t steal a credit card and go to Little Ways for a $500 brunch, which is his favorite place next to his house.”
“And then I got the receipt and it’s his fucking drink order,” she said.
The tab included eight Aperol spritzes, oysters, steak and eggs, a burger, and two orders of Casamigos Blanco, with an extra charge to use the liquor to make an espresso martini.
Tini clarified later that “the tequila espresso martini was his sig drink.”
He sent conspiracy-tinged texts to friends about how he lost money, or money got stolen from him.
“So, I’m an idiot, I keep all my credit cards and password on a convenient page in the Notes app and then I made a questionable romantic choice for the evening last month—I have tens of thousand [sic] of dollars in charges,” he texted Evans. “I hate myself.”
Donna blocked all of Deschanel’s numbers. She said she threatened to take out a restraining order after Deschanel continued to reach her via his Venmo account. His purported sister, Gabrielle de Rothschild Deschanel, emailed to attempt a mediation. Donna googled the name and found nothing. (Reached for comment, a representative at Citadel said it had “No record of someone with her name or variations of it ever working here.”)
“Is this Kyle?” she responded. “I know this has to be Kyle.”
He would offer to Venmo friends for meals and drinks, and never follow through. The house that cost $25,000 a month to rent fell into disarray. His relationship with Vitolo started to stray as well. Rumors circulated about him hitting up fellow patrons for cash, or even trying to take out a large loan by playing up his connection to the restaurant. Apparently, according to multiple sources, Deschanel hosted a dinner with several female companions, ran up a bill, and then he ditched, stiffing his fellow diners. Eventually, Vitolo figured out that Deschanel wasn’t in his high school class. There was another guy named Kyle.
After I reached out in June, Vitolo said, “I got better things to do with my life then [sic] talking about a fraud.” In August, when presented with accounts of Deschanel attempting to use Emilio’s Ballato to borrow funds, Vitolo texted “All false” but declined to elaborate.
And there were certain instances that pierced through the once impeccably maintained aura of wealth that Deschanel cultivated in himself. One nightlife friend faced such a moment when he asked Deschanel for a ride back to the city from Montauk after a weekend at the Surf Lodge.
“He was driving, for a guy like him, supposedly with his lifestyle and whatnot, he was driving a very, very crappy car that was filled—when I tell you it was filled, dude, I’m talking about, there would’ve been, on the floor and the front seat, 30 bottles of empty Diet Coke,” the friend said. “It was a junkyard. There was shit in the back seat. It was disgusting. And he told me that that was his assistant’s car. He told me that his assistant was an Orthodox, Hasidic. So throughout the car, there were various Hebrew books and all sorts of shit.”
For Tini such moments were small—at first. There was a $12,500 check that Deschanel asked her to cash for him. It was signed by someone named Saki Dodelson, of Lakewood, New Jersey. Tini and a friend we’ll call Andrea discovered online that Dodelson was the founder of an education company called Beable. LinkedIn revealed a woman in a white button-down shirt and blazer, with droopy red earrings and eye shadow. Deschanel said he was on the board of Beable and shrugged it off.
A few months later, Andrea was at 514 Broome Street, she said, drinking and smoking cigarettes, when she blurted out that she’d heard so much about Deschanel’s family, but had never met any of them. Why weren’t there any pictures on the walls? Deschanel tapped at his phone and showed her a picture of his mother. It was Saki Dodelson.
Then there was the Global Entry card.
“I happened to be over at his house looking for something,” Tini told me. “He’s like, ‘It’s upstairs somewhere.’ And so I’m upstairs and the pants on the floor, the belt, I’m not snooping through drawers. It’s literally his fucking pants on the floor that he just took off. I’m looking in the pocket and his real global ID and his Amex are in there, his matching Amex.”
There, on the US Customs & Border Protection–issued card, Tini said she saw Deschanel’s face.
The name next to it was Aryeh Dodelson.
Situated 68 miles from downtown Manhattan, Lakewood, New Jersey, is a city of about 135,000 people—roughly two thirds of whom are Orthodox Jews. It’s an inland area in Ocean County, and the air has the faintest hint of the beach in its aftertaste. One weekday this summer, I hitched a ride with two men—one a current Lakewood resident, another a former—as they offered a dose of local history and gossip. The town is home to, and in many ways driven by, the famed rabbinical school Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest yeshiva outside of Israel. According to locals and hometown news reports, BMG picks candidates for local office for the Haredim to support, controls hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate, and maintains a fundraising machine through its supporters.
“It’s a billion-dollar operation. It’s ‘Yeshiva Enterprise,’” said one of my hosts as we drove past the campus that has its own Kushner Pavilion, named for a certain prominent New Jersey Jewish family.
Like many such Orthodox enclaves, the town is by nature insular. Because no cars or electronics can be used on the Sabbath, everyone needs to live within walking distance from shul. Marriages are arranged—and meticulously so. The ambulances are staffed by volunteers—all married Orthodox men. But the Lakewood community also exhibits markers of upper-middle-class striving familiar to other New York–area suburbs. Over the last decade or so, new luxury gyms, with separate hours for men and women, have popped up—as have high-end kosher restaurants, and kosher liquor stores which stock Casa Azul tequila and copious Glenfiddich blends alongside Israeli wines. We strolled into a grocery store with the scale and minimalist approach of a Whole Foods, but stocked entirely with kosher goods. The checkout-line magazines were all about the Orthodox faith.
Until very recently, according to sources and public reporting, Aryeh Malkiel Dodelson, 36, was a practicing rabbi in Lakewood, New Jersey, where he lived in a home with his wife and child. He was the head of a local kollel, a group of married men who devoted their days to the study of the Talmud, making him a rosh kollel at the yeshiva. He was an adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in Jerusalem.
“Being a rosh kollel, it’s like the dream for everyone,” Henry, a high-profile Orthodox personality who spent years in Lakewood and was driving us around, told me. “It’s like wanting to play in the NBA.”
Dodelson was in-demand, accomplished, a serious scholar of the ancient laws. He was invited to serve as a visiting rabbi at places like the West Side Institutional Synagogue, on West 76th Street. He wrote several books, including a 201-page-long text about agunot, the Talmudic laws that surround a Jewish woman’s rights to leave a marriage.
“It was not something that’s off-the-cuff or something, he took on a very hard, complex subject, and did a very good job with it,” said Riley, another resident of Lakewood who lived down the street from the Dodelson family. “So he’s definitely very learned and definitely brilliant.”
Dodelson hailed from one of the town’s most important families. His mother, Saki, is a cousin of the Rosh Yeshiva Malkiel Kotler, the dean of the historic school’s 8,000 students. He is the great-grandson of Aaron Kotler, who founded the yeshiva in 1943, a seismic development in Orthodox Judaism’s rise in the United States.
“Rabbi Malkiel Kotler is very powerful,” Henry said. “I don’t know how much it affects Aryeh’s life, I don’t know how close they are, but if you’re asking me to describe who Rabbi Kotler is in terms of Lakewood, and what that might mean, well he’s as powerful as it gets.”
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko—the president of the American-Israeli Jewish Network, who grew up with Aryeh Dodelson in Lakewood—likened Dodelson’s life in Lakewood and the yeshiva to a relative of Jerry Falwell spending their college years at Liberty University, the Baptist college in Lynchburg, Virginia, once run by the powerful preacher and his family.
The family was by appearances close. According to public records, Saki Dodelson owns the home Aryeh Dodelson and his family lived in, which is immediately behind the house she shares with her husband. His sister, Gital Dodelson, lives next door.
The Dodelson family has had brushes with the mainstream media in the past—something of a rarity for the community. In 2009, Gital had married an Orthodox man from Staten Island who came from another powerful rabbinical family. They separated soon after the birth of their son, and after a few years, she tried to divorce him. In order to do so, she needed a get, the document that, under rabbinical law, authorizes a marriage’s dissolution. When he refused, she went to the press. The New York Post ran her first-person account of the marital saga on the front page in 2013.
“The Orthodox are fiercely private, but I am willing to air my dirty laundry if it means I can finally get on with my life,” she wrote.
The story went viral, and Gital got her divorce a few months later, after pickup from the Daily Mail, the Times of Israel, and an episode of This American Life called “Stuck in the Middle” in which Aryeh Dodelson spoke with writer Mark Oppenheimer. Years later, friends of Kyle Deschanel’s would listen to the episode and recognize the voice giving a scholarly opinion on ancient law.
Since the Dutch landed in Manhattan in 1609, New York has had a soft spot for fabulists and operators. The place was built on a con, when Peter Miniut bought the land rights from the Lenape for 60 guilders. Four hundred years later, playing fast and loose still isn’t really even that discouraged; it’s part of the DNA of the metropolis. Washington Irving wrote New York’s definitive history under an assumed name that falsely connected him back to the Dutch patroons: Diedrich Knickerbocker, the moniker of a fake member of a real 17th-century Beverwyck family that also happened to have made up their surname out of thin air. Somewhere along the way, a Knickerbocker became what you call an authentic New Yorker.
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Records show that Aryeh Dodelson registered a company, De Rothschild Holdings LLC, from an address in Lakewood in 2018. It was around that time that Kyle Deschanel started showing up in Manhattan, though, according to those who took an interest in his social trajectory, it would take him some time to make his way downtown. Tracy Sokat, the actor and model who knew him socially, said she’d been in touch with an ex-girlfriend who knew him as early as 2018.
“Same identity—he was Kyle Deschanel,” Sokat said. “He wasn’t friends with any of these people. He wasn’t a part of the New York nightlife scene. [The ex-girlfriend] was like, ‘He had no friends, and I always thought that that was strange.’”
The Rothschilds, the real ones, have several branches, each descended from one of the sons of the banking family’s patriarch, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who was born in 1744 in the Frankfurt ghetto, ascended to the court of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Hesse by selling rare coins to royal patrons and innovated modern banking from there. To spread the business he had his five sons establish bureaus in Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Naples, and Paris. There remain a lot of Rothschilds sprinkled throughout the global wealth class—enough that one’s claims to be one might elide a smartphone search for a drink or two, and by then, hey, who cares? (While we’re on the Rothschilds, a brief note on faith: Despite his claim to come from one of history’s most recognizable Jewish families, multiple sources said that Kyle Deschanel would insist to anyone who listened that he was raised Catholic, have long discussions about his upbringing in the faith, and was often seen wearing a cross around his neck.)
When Deschanel met Erne Stern, he had matriculated into the club world and its more sophisticated (or sophisticated-seeming, anyway) crowd, and the de Rothschild Deschanel story had grown and added texture.
As Deschanel took bigger risks to support his Rothschild-size lifestyle, his dealings began to unravel. After sending around the Axiomatic deck to a number of potential investors in December 2021, it reached one person who was a bit confused. Wasn’t Alex Michael, the hotshot cohead of growth at LionTree Capital, heading up the fundraising for Axiomatic? How did this tiny firm get a piece of the action? The person sent the Oxshott pitch to LionTree, who sent it to Axiomatic. Its founders were stunned. The deck was a fake. There were typos. The font size was off in places. The copy misevaluated exactly what Team Liquid did. Also: No one at the company had ever heard of Kyle Deschanel or Oxshott.
According to a source, Axiomatic sent a cease-and-desist letter to Oxshott in December 2021 that instructed it to sign, acknowledging that the company had not been authorized to solicit funds on Axiomatic’s behalf. Physical copies of the letter were returned to sender unopened in February 2022 but Axiomatic continued to pursue the matter. Oxshott later signed that April. (When asked about the episode, Stern’s spokesman declined to comment on individual deals.)
“We had no idea that Kyle was actively fundraising on behalf of us.”
Axiomatic also instructed investors who had seen the fake decks to delete the material and filed a complaint to the Office of the Whistleblower at the SEC in February 2022. “aXiomatic promptly pursued relevant legal and regulatory channels upon discovering Oxshott Capital’s conduct,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “This action was taken to protect not only aXiomatic’s reputation but the broader investment community.” Last May, it announced a $35 million fundraising round. LionTree Capital was the financial adviser.
Patrick, from the Toronto-based AI company, told a variation on the Axiomatic story.
“We had no idea that Kyle was actively fundraising on behalf of us,” Patrick said, adding that Deschanel had broken an NDA by circulating the company’s pitch deck—and its fundraising structure. “What he was really doing was pitching the last 20 percent of the round with no intention of ever writing us a much bigger check and going there in an unapproved manner.”
Stampede had begun its relationship with Oxshott more conventionally, according to documents and sources. The company had first enlisted adviser EMP Media Partners to work on a $120 million round of fundraising in 2021. EMP partner Peter Hoffman was referred to Oxshott for additional muscle. Stampede entered an advisory agreement authorizing Oxshott to find equity in a proposed film financing vehicle. One of Deschanel’s colleagues was charged with sending out the deck asking for $120 million in fundraising, with the minimum ask coming in at $5 million.
Deschanel then started sending out a Stampede deck from his Oxshott email address claiming he was a managing director of a “family office.” He also threw around some serious numbers, and intimated that Oxshott itself had invested. In an email to one potential partner, Deschanel claimed that “Approximately $90 million of the Class A Equity is currently committed from among Oxshott Family Office, Stampede Studios, Asia-based private investors, and a Taiwan Sovereign Fund.”
“Oxshott is not an investor in Stampede, nor has Oxshott or ‘Kyle Deschanel’ raised any equity for Stampede,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The company currently does not work with either Oxshott or ‘Kyle Deschanel’—and it will not be doing so in the future.”
Stern said that he had cut all ties with Deschanel as of this June. The Oxshott rep said that the company did not have a formal arrangement with Deschanel, referring to him as a “1099 contractor.” He was paid, Stern’s spokesman said, “if there was reason to, such as success on a deal, no regular schedule.”
When I shared my reporting on Deschanel with Vinoo Varghese, a trial lawyer who specializes in fraud and white collar crime, he saw a pattern consistent with cases that he’s prosecuted. “You have both wire fraud and securities fraud charges,” he said of a potential case. “This is serious stuff.”
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent who specialized in investigating economic corruption, said that the key to proving a deal is a crime, rather than just a bad investment, is establishing that the deal was “based on something that was a lie or deception.”
“You go to the companies and say, ‘Did you authorize this man, whatever his name is, to sell these investment packages or whatever he is selling?’” she said. “And if they say, ‘No, we don’t know who he is, he wasn’t authorized, he didn’t have that authority to do so,’ then that’s a pretty good straight-up fraud.”
When asked if it was investigating Deschanel, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment “for now.”
Byju’s potential SPAC was eventually scuttled. Instead, in March 2022, the company’s founder, Byju Raveendran personally invested $400 million to shore up its fundraising. That July, the company maintained that it was still set to receive funds from Oxshott via DRD Holdings, but by the end of the year, the money had yet to arrive. In 2023, three board members resigned, leaving only the cofounders and Raveendran’s brother on its advisory committee. Deloitte resigned as the company’s auditor.
The company, once valued at $22 billion, is now reportedly worth a little more than $5 billion. By the middle of this year, the local press was making a show of chronicling the start-up’s fall. Byju’s had been late in reporting its annual financials to the Indian government, prompting a search and seizure of its offices by the country’s anti-money laundering unit, known as Enforcement Directorate, in April. There was a legal dispute with an American lender leading to a battle in a Delaware court that was resolved in July with the restructuring of a $1.2 billion loan.
A spokesperson for the company said it would not comment for this story.
The rep for Oxshott said it had no affiliation with DRD Holdings, and declined to comment on the Byju’s deal.
In May, Deschanel was set to cohost a black-tie benefit at Carnegie Hall for the American Friends of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Ahead of the bash, Deschanel solicited charitable donations for tickets, but no mention of the gala appeared on the AFLPO website. A rep from the AFLPO confirmed that Deschanel was on the board, but did not respond to subsequent outreach.
Leading up to February 15, Deschanel circulated a flier for a fundraiser he was hosting with Emilia Clarke, to raise money for SameYou, which she founded with her mother after suffering two brain hemorrhages while shooting Game of Thrones.
“I don’t know if he really feels empathy, or feels hurt for people, when he does hurt people.”
“It’s a cause that has both personal meaning to me, as well as it being an underserved area of the medical community,” Deschanel wrote to one friend. “I would ask your forgiveness for imposing on you to share it with anyone you feel may be interested in participating in this cause, or even becoming a Trustee or Board Member.”
He sent along a link soliciting four-figure donations. Genevieve, one of the women who briefly hooked up with Deschanel, said that he claimed he made $35,000 from the event.
A spokesperson for the charity said that Emilia’s mother, Jenny Clarke, began emailing with Deschanel in January, operating under the assumption that he was a philanthropist who wanted to help SameYou due to his “personal experience of stroke.” Deschanel proposed a pilot fundraiser that would bring high net worth individuals into the orbit of the charity, as well as a search for new members of the board of trustees in the US.
He also pledged to raise funds at the event, and a QR code connected potential donors to a portal on the SameYou website where certain dollar amounts could be put toward the effort. He told multiple people that Emilia Clarke would be there. “Open your wallet for the mother of dragons!!” he texted Orders, the model. She did not attend.
“The charity did not receive any charitable donations from Deschanel at the event or subsequently,” the spokesperson wrote. “At the event the charity received direct donations from attendees of $6,735.43. Deschanel told Jenny Clarke he secured additional pledges from other attendees amounting to $18k and that he would match fund anything we received. These donations were never received.”
After months, Tini said, of picking up the check for meals and charging Ubers to her credit card, chasing Deschanel down for Venmos, and watching him pretend Venmo was down, or paying off his housekeeper—she had had enough. In April, she started sharing the Global Entry card with the name “Aryeh Dodelson” on it with some of the mutual friends, the people who had been part of a group chat, “Are We the Drama,” she had with Deschanel and others.
“I wasn’t mad until the credit card thing happened where I was like, ‘You’re not a good person. You’re not someone that’s running from religion. You’re not someone that’s just insecure. You’re not someone that’s just New York sketchy. You would do this to your best friend and lie to her again,’” Tini said.
Deschanel became less present at all the normal spots and vanished for extended periods of time. He complained to one friend that none of his “nightlife friends” texted him after he said he would be in London for a week. “I felt so used and stupid, like, if I’m not in town and my house isn’t available, like, no one cares about me,” he wrote.
He also hinted at a more permanent change of scenery.
“I think I need to leave New York, it’s not good for me, I haven’t done drugs or drank in a month, and I haven’t cum in a month,” he texted one source. “I feel refreshed-ish, and I can’t do that in New York. I wanna settle down I think. And my friends are bad for me.”
After I first interviewed her this summer, Eva Evans was inspired to share her story on TikTok where she has nearly 300,000 followers. The June post racked up thousands of likes, and comments from dozens of New Yorkers who said they’d crossed paths with Deschanel. Soon other former friends of Deschanel’s started making their own TikToks, and the online attention was enough to inspire a story on the Daily Beast about the videos. Evans received a raft of DMs from Deschanel and Dodelson acquaintances.
“I knew he was full of shit for the longest time!” read a representative sample.
When Evans posted the videos, no one had seen Deschanel for a month or more. Then someone claiming to be him texted her from a number she didn't recognize.
“I'm begging you—delete the stories and TikTok’s [sic] please,” the person wrote. “I know I don’t deserve mercy but for the sake of my wife and kid and family. They haven’t done anything wrong. I swear I won’t be engaging in this kind of behavior and if you ever catch that I am then feel free to do whatever you want to me, but please please give my kid a chance and don’t publicly shame me and him.”
Evans deleted the posts, but mostly, she said, because she was overwhelmed by the volume of the response.
In late July, a source said that Aryeh and his mother, Saki, had retained the services of a company named Clean Your Name, which promises that it will “remove your unwanted negative reviews or profiles from Google.” (Clean Your Name did not respond to requests for comment.)
In early August, a number of TikTok users who had posted about Kyle Deschanel and Aryeh Dodelson saw that their posts had been taken down, due to copyright violations. The claimant in each instance was listed as Viacom CBS Inc. When reached for comment, a source at Paramount—which has not gone by the name ViacomCBS since February 2022—confirmed that the claims were a “fraudulent use of our name.” A few days later, the TikTok posts had been restored to the social network.
“He was addicted to going out, being cool, being loved by people, having semi-hot girls think that he was the ultimate playboy.”
In July, a series of new websites started popping up devoted to an “Aryeh Dodelson” who was, they said, a working abstract artist in New York.
“Aryeh Dodelson, an esteemed abstract painter hailing from the vibrant city of New York, has firmly established himself as a prominent figure in the contemporary art scene,” reads the bio on a Vimeo account that was uploaded in mid-July. “With a birth year of 1970, Dodelson enthralls audiences with his unique artistic style and mesmerizing compositions.”
There is a website, a Twitter page, a YouTube, a Facebook, an Instagram—all devoted to a painter named Aryeh Dodelson, all appearing in July. Reverse image searches of the works allegedly made by the 53-year-old painter Aryeh Dodelson, show that they are largely the top Google Image results for “abstract art.”
As I reported this story, I called nearly a dozen different numbers for Deschanel and Dodelson that were provided to me by sources, or found in documents. Nearly all of them were disconnected. I sent emails to four different addresses for Kyle Deschanel that I found or had been given to me. I called Aryeh Dodelson’s home. I called Saki Dodelson’s home. I reached out to several attorneys who had represented Saki in a legal dispute. Eventually, I spoke to a Lakewood resident who was acting as the Dodelsons’ PR representative. “Your information was passed onto the family,” he told me. “It’s at their discretion if they wish to contact you.”
They did not.
After Evans’s TikToks started getting out, Deschanel made his Instagram private and changed its handle slightly to @degenerate_snoopy, but still watched his former friends’ stories. Then he changed it again. His new handle was @kyles_real_name_is_aryeh_. Then he changed it to @georgeworthingerer.
“I don’t know if he really feels empathy, or feels hurt for people, when he does hurt people,” Sokat said.
“He was like, you have to take what you want in life. You can’t ask.”
Deschanel’s sense of grandeur around his relationships with women alarmed a number of his close friends. “He was addicted to going out, being cool, being loved by people, having semi-hot girls think that he was the ultimate playboy,” said Gretta Bannister-Hopkins, a friend. “I definitely think he was smart, I think maybe the drugs and the alcohol diminished his smartness in the end.”
The film producer recalled a recent night out when Deschanel had turned somewhat philosophical: “He was like, you have to take what you want in life. You can’t ask.”
A source within the Orthodox community told me about something of a pattern among some of its most ardent religious scholars who devote their lives to study and need ways to blow off steam. A very small percentage—maybe 1 percent this source estimated—go on tropical vacations alone, or jaunts through Europe, or might even take a few forays into Manhattan nightlife.
“There are many Aryeh Dodelsons who are not Aryeh Dodelson,” Henry said.
The question remains as to where Dodelson is at the moment. Several screenshots of a text thread shared with me by a source suggest that as recently as May and June, he’d been in Manhattan. Stern said he is currently in the process of figuring out how much non-Oxshott-related expenses Dodelson put on the company card before he was cut off.
One Lakewood source said that the community was stunned, recently, to see Aryeh with his mother, Saki, and his father, Daniel Dodelson, at synagogue. Even more so because Aryeh Dodelson’s wife had divorced her husband in a Jewish court and moved out of their home with their son in late June. (His wife did not respond to several text messages. Her father hung up when I called his cell phone and asked about Aryeh Dodelson.)
In August, Rabbi Poupko wrote a blog post for the Times of Israel, highlighting the hypocrisy he saw in the Lakewood community for punishing students for small-time sins against Orthodoxy—offenses include “saying hello to a girl in the pizza shop,” “having a smartphone,” and “asking for their college transcripts so they can apply to college after high school”—while embracing Kyle, whom, he wrote, he knew.
Poupko spent time in Lakewood but left to get a graduate degree at Yeshiva University in Upper Manhattan, and now teaches at Park East Day School on the Upper East Side. The rabbi expected to be on the receiving end of torrential hate from the Haredi community after so passionately calling them out in the Israeli paper of record. Instead, he got crickets. BMG did not respond to a request for an interview with Rosh Yeshiva Malkiel Kotler. But Poupko did hear from a Lakewood man who had something to tell him: His nephew has seen him recently, as Aryeh Dodelson is apparently still showing up at yeshiva.
One place that Aryeh Dodelson is certainly not hiding out is at 514 Broome Street in SoHo. It’s now back on the market, and once again being brokered by Alyssa Brody.
On a recent visit, I walked through and saw the place in all its glory. The broker on duty unlocked the door, and inside was the expansive dining room and open kitchen that went back 50 feet north of Broome Street, and the original wooden beams and old-school fireplace kept the vibe patrician even as the Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs billboards screamed out the window. Only one small piece of Kyle Deschanel’s white-hot ambition remained: a placard asking visitors to donate to SameYou.
It was still available to rent in mid-August, or buy at $6.75 million.
As the StreetEasy listing says, “This home would be a dream to live in, in NYC.”
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