|Born||1946 (age 73–74)|
|Other names||“Le fantôme” (The ghost)|
|Known for||former 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. The subject of a 60 Minutes investigation in 1988, Brunel has faced allegations of sexual assault spanning three decades.
Brunel has come under heavy scrutiny for his ties to Epstein with whom he worked from the early 2000s to 2015. Brunel was accused of recruiting young women and of partaking in the alleged sex ring run by Epstein. In 2019, French National Police launched an investigation on Brunel after he went into hiding following Epstein's death.
In 1988, Jean-Luc Brunel and his brother Arnaud Brunel founded the Next Management Corporation. In 1989, the Brunel brothers and Faith Kates formed the global modeling agency Next Management Company. Kates owned a majority stake in the company with the Brunel brother's Next Management Corp. owning a minority stake at 25 percent. American Photo reported that Brunel split off from Next Management Company in April of 1996 with the Miami models. Next Management Company sued the Brunel brothers in 1996.
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. He founded Karin Models of America in 1995. 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.
In the early 2000s, Brunel moved to the United States. The Daily Beast reported that he relied on funding from his brother Arnaud and their business partner, Etienne des Roys. 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.
Brunel met Ghislaine Maxwell in the 1980s and she later introduced him to the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. Brunel received funds from Epstein of "up to a million dollars" in 2004 to help launch a new modeling agency: MC2 Model Management. 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. Clients of MC2 reportedly included Nordstrom, Macy’s Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp., Target Corporation, Sears, and Belk.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a notable Epstein accuser, alleged in a 2014 court filing that the system was a cover for sex trafficking. 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.
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 December 23, 1988, covered the conduct of Brunel and fellow Parisian modeling agent Claude Haddad. 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. 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. He denied the claimes but Ford ultimately severed ties with him following the broadcast. Michael Gross reported in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women that Brunel had admitted to using cocaine for years. Brunel defended his use by stating that he did not have a drug problem since he refrained from using cocaine during the day.
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.
Despite renewed attention, 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.” 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. He was also a regular visitor to the jail where Epstein was held in 2008, with at least 70 recorded visits.
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." 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. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
Brunel was last seen in public at the Paris Country Club on 5 July 2019. Following Epstein's death in August 2019, Brunel went into hiding. Shortly thereafter, the French National Police launched an investigation into Brunel. In September 2019, Brunel's Paris home and offices were searched by French investigators as part of a probe into sex trafficking by Epstein.
Brunel was married to Helen Hogberg, a Swedish model. Hogberg divorced Brunel in 1979. In 1988, he married his girlfriend of two years, the American model Roberta Chirko. Brunel and Chirko later divorced.
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- Paumgarten, Nick (July–August 1996). "Model Wars: The Next Generation". American Photo: 71.CS1 maint: date format (link)
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- Bhasin, Kim; Holman, Jordyn (2019-08-19). Paskin, Janet (ed.). "Modelling Agency With Ties to Epstein Names Macy's, Nordstrom as Clients". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
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- Gross, Michael (2011). Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780062076120.
- Halperin, Ian (2003). Bad and Beautiful: Inside the Dazzling and Deadly World of Supermodels. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806524566.
- Patterson, James; Connolly, John; Malloy, Tim (2016). Filthy Rich. New York: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 126–128. ISBN 9780316317580.
- Graham, Ben (2019-12-13). "Mystery over Epstein's missing mate Jean-Luc Brunel". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
- "Modeling agency searched in Paris amid Jeffrey Epstein investigation". CBS News. September 24, 2019. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
Video of "American Girls in Paris" 60 Minutes, 1988