Jean-Luc Brunel

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Jean-Luc Brunel
Born1946 (age 75–76)
Other names“Le fantôme” (The ghost)
OccupationModel scout
Years active1970s–present
Known forformer head of Karin Models and MC2 Model Management

Jean-Luc Brunel (born 1946) is a French model scout and former modeling agency manager. He gained prominence by leading the modelling agency Karin Models, and founded MC2 Model Management, with financing by Jeffrey Epstein, and which had offices in New York, Miami, and Tel Aviv.[1] The subject of a 60 Minutes investigation in 1988, Brunel has faced allegations of sexual assault spanning three decades.[2]

Brunel has come under heavy scrutiny for his ties to Epstein with whom he worked from the early 2000s to 2015.[3] Brunel was accused of recruiting young females and of partaking in the alleged sex trafficking ring run by Epstein.[4] In 2019, French National Police launched an investigation on Brunel after he went into hiding following Epstein's death.[4] He was arrested on December 16, 2020, and charged with the rape of minors by French prosecutors.[5]

Early life and family[edit]

Jean-Luc Brunel was born in 1946 in Paris. His father was a real estate executive.[6] He has one brother, Arnaud.[7]


Brunel began his career in the late 1970s working as a modeling scout for Karin Mossberg's agency, Karin Models in Paris.[3][8] In 1978, he became the head of Karin Models.[6]

In 1988, Brunel and his brother Arnaud founded the Next Management Corporation.[9] In 1989, the Brunel brothers and Faith Kates formed the global modeling agency Next Management Company.[7] Kates owned a majority stake in the company with the Brunel brother's Next Management Corp. owning a minority stake at 25 percent.[7] American Photo reported that Brunel split off from Next Management Company in April 1996 with the Miami models.[10] Next Management Company sued the Brunel brothers in 1996.[7]

Brunel was considered to be a talented scout who had discovered a number of models who rose to prominence, including Christy Turlington, Sharon Stone, and Milla Jovovich.[11] He founded Karin Models of America in 1995.[12] After Brunel was included in a BBC MacIntyre Undercover report on abuse within the fashion industry in November 1999, he was banned from his modeling agency in Europe.[11]

In the early 2000s, Brunel moved to the United States.[13] The Daily Beast reported that he relied on funding from his brother Arnaud and their business partner, Etienne des Roys.[7] In 2003, both financiers pulled out and after the "Paris office filed to revoke Brunel’s claim to the Karin trademark in 2004," he changed the name of the agency to MC2.[7]

Brunel met Ghislaine Maxwell in the 1980s and she later introduced him to the financier Jeffrey Epstein.[11] Brunel received funds from Epstein of "up to a million dollars" in 2004 to help launch a new modeling agency: MC2 Model Management.[1] Brunel transformed Karin Models US division into MC2 Model Management, by opening offices in New York and Miami in 2005. The agency name evokes Epstein through a reference to Einstein's equation for mass energy equivalency or E=mc2.[6][11] Clients of MC2 reportedly included Nordstrom, Macy's Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney Co., Kohl's Corporation, Target Corporation, Sears, and Belk.[14]

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an Epstein accuser, alleged in a 2014 court filing that the system was a cover for sex trafficking.[3] In court documents released in August 2019, Giuffre named Brunel as one of the men Maxwell had directed her as a teenager to have sex with.[15]

In 2019, it was reported that Brunel helped create The Identity Models in New York and 1Mother Agency in Kyiv, Ukraine.[16] MC2 was dissolved on September 27, 2019.[6]

Rape accusations[edit]

Brunel was the subject of a seven-month investigation by CBS producer Craig Pyes and reporter Diane Sawyer for 60 Minutes. The investigative segment “American Models in Paris,” which aired on 23 December 1988, covered the conduct of Brunel and fellow Parisian modeling agent Claude Haddad.[17] Several American models who worked with Brunel were interviewed by 60 Minutes and described their experiences of the culture Brunel fostered where the models were routinely drugged and sexually abused.[18] Eileen Ford (of the New York-based Ford Modeling Agency) had sent her models to Brunel for Paris assignments and was interviewed for the program where she claimed no prior knowledge of the multiple complaints from models of sexual exploitation and drug abuse by Brunel.[17] He denied the claims, but Ford ultimately severed ties with him following the broadcast.[17] Michael Gross reported in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women that Brunel had admitted to using cocaine for years.[17] Brunel defended his use by stating that he did not have a drug problem since he refrained from using cocaine during the day.[17]

In 2002, Brunel was again associated with abuse after Elite supermodel Karen Mulder described to the French press the culture of sexual misconduct and manipulation prevalent in the modeling industry.[6] Brunel did not face criminal charges.

Brunel has been accused by Virginia Giuffre of sexually trafficking girls for Epstein. Giuffre claimed in a 2015 affidavit that Epstein bragged to her that he had “slept with over 1,000 of Brunel’s girls.”[4] Brunel responded by denying involvement in any illegal activities with Epstein, saying, "I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work as a scouter or model agencies manager." From 1998 to 2005, Brunel was listed as a passenger in flight logs for Epstein's private plane on 25 trips.[6] He was also a regular visitor to the jail where Epstein was held in 2008, with at least 70 recorded visits.[7]

Brunel sued Epstein in 2015, claiming that he and MC2 had "lost multiple contacts and business in the modelling business as a result of Epstein’s illegal actions."[3][19] He also alleged that Epstein had obstructed justice by directing Brunel to avoid having his deposition taken in the criminal case against Epstein by the Palm Beach Police Department.[19] The lawsuit was later dismissed. The victims had been waiting a long time for Jean-Luc Brunel's arrest.[6]

Brunel was last seen in public at the Paris Country Club on 5 July 2019.[20] Following Epstein's death in August 2019, Brunel went into hiding. Shortly thereafter, the French National Police launched an investigation into Brunel.[4] In September 2019, Brunel's Paris home and offices were searched by French investigators as part of a probe into sex trafficking by Epstein.[21]

On December 16, 2020, Brunel was intercepted by police at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, as he was about to board a flight to Dakar. He was then placed under 'garde à vue' custody for questioning. He is being held in relation to rape, sexual assault, criminal conspiracy and human trafficking. All the allegations involve minors.[22][5]

Having spent several months remanded in custody for the aforementioned charges, Brunel was formally indicted in September 2021 on a single count of rape. The indictment stems from an allegation that Brunel drugged a 17-year-old model at a nightclub and raped her in the 1990s.[23] Brunel claims he is innocent.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Brunel was married to Helen Hogberg, a Swedish model. Hogberg divorced Brunel in 1979.[18] In 1988, he married his girlfriend of two years, the American model Roberta Chirko.[18] Brunel and Chirko later divorced.[6]


  1. ^ a b Sarnoff, Conchita (2010-07-22). "Jeffrey Epstein Pedophile Billionaire and His Sex Den". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  2. ^ Cobbe, Elaine (October 18, 2019). "Ex-model accuses Jeffrey Epstein's friend of rape". CBS News. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Swaine, Jon; Henley, Jon; Osborne, Lucy (August 17, 2019). "Jean-Luc Brunel: three former models say they were sexually assaulted by Jeffrey Epstein friend". The Guardian (in British English). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Arnold, Amanda (September 26, 2019). "What We Know About Jean-Luc Brunel, One of the Men Closest to Epstein". The Cut (in American English). Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Ing, Nancy; van Hagen, Isobel (December 19, 2020). "French modeling agent charged with rape of a minor in Jeffrey Epstein probe". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-12-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Robertson, Linda; Brown, Julie K.; Nehamas, Nicholas (December 20, 2019). "Did a Miami-based modeling agency fuel Jeffrey Epstein's 'machine of abuse'?". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Shugerman, Emily; Briquelet, Kate; Cartwright, Lachlan (September 7, 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein's Modeling Ties Go Much Deeper Than Victoria's Secret". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Sauers, Jenna (August 4, 2010). "The Sex-Trafficking Model Scout". Jezebel. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Shugerman, Emily (September 16, 2019). "Steven Mnuchin's Mysterious Link to Creepy Epstein Model Scout". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  10. ^ Paumgarten, Nick (July–August 1996). "Model Wars: The Next Generation". American Photo: 71.
  11. ^ a b c d Edwards, Bradley J. (2020). Relentless Pursuit: My Fight for the Victims of Jeffrey Epstein. New York City: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781982148157.
  12. ^ Bhasin, Kim; Holman, Jordyn (August 19, 2019). Paskin, Janet (ed.). "Modelling Agency With Ties to Epstein Names Macy's, Nordstrom as Clients". The Business of Fashion (in British English). Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  13. ^ Autran, Frédéric; Halissat, Ismaël; Moran, Anaïs (August 13, 2019). "Jean-Luc Brunel a toujours été poli et bien élevé devant Eileen". Liberation. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  14. ^ Bhasin, Kim; Holman, Jordyn (August 17, 2019). "Epstein-Linked Modeling Agency Claimed Nordstrom, Macy's as Clients". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Mangan, Dan (November 1, 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell was a guest at a Jeff Bezos-hosted retreat in 2018, report says". CNBC. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  16. ^ Briquelet, Kate (October 1, 2019). "Epstein's Pal Jean-Luc Brunel Quietly Sells Off His Infamous Modeling Biz". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d e Gross, Michael (2011). Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. New York City: Harper Collins. ISBN 9780062076120.
  18. ^ a b c Halperin, Ian (2003). Bad and Beautiful: Inside the Dazzling and Deadly World of Supermodels. New York City: Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806524566.
  19. ^ a b Patterson, James; Connolly, John; Malloy, Tim (2016). Filthy Rich. New York City: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 126–128. ISBN 9780316317580.
  20. ^ Graham, Ben (December 13, 2019). "Mystery over Epstein's missing mate Jean-Luc Brunel". NewsComAu. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  21. ^ "Modeling agency searched in Paris amid Jeffrey Epstein investigation". CBS News (in American English). September 24, 2019. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
  22. ^ "Affaire Epstein : le Français Jean-Luc Brunel en garde à vue depuis mercredi". Europe 1 (in French). Retrieved Dec 17, 2020.
  23. ^ Allen, Peter (17 September 2021). "Jeffrey Epstein's model agent friend charged with raping teenager in 1990s". Metro.
  24. ^ Rosman, Rebecca (16 September 2021). "Model agent friend of Jeffrey Epstein charged with rape of a minor". Daily Telegraph.

External links[edit]

Video of "American Girls in Paris" 60 Minutes, 1988