The death of Jeffrey Epstein is expected to bring to an end the cases that are pending against him, in their current form, at least, but the disgraced money-manager and Level 3 sex offender’s recently-confirmed suicide on August 10 will not prevent law enforcement from further examining the latest round of egregious underage sex charges lodged against him and “anyone who was complicit with him,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said last week. One apparent co-conspirator that will almost certainly get caught up in authorities’ widening net? French model scout Jean-Luc Brunel.
When nearly 2,000 pages of court documents tied to a since-settled 2015 defamation lawsuit that Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre filed against his former girlfriend, and closest alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell were unsealed on August 9, the day before Epstein’s demise, Brunel name could be found more than once. In fact, his name dots a number of the documents, which found a home in the public domain following a July decision from a federal appeals court in New York.
The 72-year old’s name is listed on more than a dozen flight logs for Epstein’s private jet, including one that corresponded with a February 2005 flight from Columbus, Ohio – the hometown of Epstein’s close friend and business associate Les Wexler, the founder and CEO of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands – to Palm Beach, Florida. The flight was made by 7 people, including Epstein, Brunel, and model Nadia Marcinkova, who was 19 years old at the time. Marcinkova was allegedly brought to the U.S. from the former Yugoslavia to live with Epstein when she was 14, according to a 2010 deposition from Maritza Vasquez, a former bookkeeper for Brunel’s agency, MC2.
That same flight log was subsequently found to have “conspicuously” failed to list the attendance of three – presumably underage – females who potentially were flying under the radar, pun intended. It is illegal and particularly egregious, after all, to take minors across state lines for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (Brunel has denied ever engaging in sex trafficking.)
Brunel is name-checked as many as 67 different times on jail visitor logs when Epstein was incarcerated for 18 months beginning in 2008 for being convicted of soliciting a prostitute and procuring an underage girl for prostitution. “Jean-Luc” is also scribbled on damning phone messages that he allegedly left for Epstein at his home, making mention of at least one underage girl, a 16 year old, who Brunel was apparently offering up as “a teacher for you to teach you how to speak Russian.”
However, the most striking allegations involving Brunel have come directly from Ms. Giuffre, herself. In the lawsuit that she filed against Ms. Maxwell in 2015, Guiffre alleged that she had been enlisted by Maxwell when she was underage to be a massage therapist for Epstein. (Court documents reveal that originally, Giuffre mistakenly claimed to have been 15 years old when approached by Maxwell. She was actually either 16 or 17 years old.) It was not long after she accepted the position that Giuffre says the abuse began. According to Guiffre, she was forced to have sex with Epstein’s prominent associates, including attorney Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew, and Brunel.
“I had sexual intercourse with Jean-Luc Brunel many times when I was 16 through 19 years old,” Guiffre alleged in a January 2015 court filing. “He was another of Epstein's powerful friends who had many contacts with young girls throughout the world ... Brunel could get dozens of underaged girls and feed Epstein's (and Maxwell's) strong appetite for sex with minors.”
Guiffre continued on to allege that Brunel “appeared to have an arrangement with the U.S. Government where he could get passports or other travel documents for young girls. He would then bring these young girls (girls ranging in age from 12 to 24) to the United States for sexual purposes and farm them out to his friends, including Epstein.”
Brunel’s tumultuous ties to Epstein spanned decades, as has his alleged practice of sexual assault. The modeling executive’s story dates back to the 1970’s when he began working as a modeling agent in Paris. According to James Patterson and John Connolly’s 2016 book Filthy Rich, Brunel "claims to have launched the careers of Monica Bellucci, Jerry Hall, Rachel Hunter, Milla Jovovich, Rebecca Romijn, Kristina Semenovskaya, Sharon Stone, and Estella Warran, as well as Christy Turlington and other well-known cover girls” by way of his Paris-based agency Karin Models, which he acquired from its previous owner Karin Mossberg in the late 1970s.
Aside from garnering an early reputation as an ambitious businessman and an immensely gifted scout with a particular eye for young, undiscovered future supermodels, Brunel was a notorious predator. “He became known for running afoul of the rules. At Karins, many models claimed that Brunel had sexually exploited them,” Michael Gross wrote in his 1995 book, Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. “One former Karins model accused Brunel of encouraging her to sleep with some of the most powerful people in the modeling industry.”
"Jean-Luc is considered a danger,” Jérôme Bonnouvrier – the late founder of the agency DNA Models, who discovered Karolina Kurkova and whose roster has included Linda Evangelista, Amber Valletta, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Shalom Harlow, among others – told Gross. “He likes drugs and silent rape. It excites him.”
This sentiment was echoed to Gross by famed American modeling agent, scout, and Elite Model Management founder John Casablancas, who said, “Everyone knew [he was] a creep … [he] should be behind bars.”
Almost ten years before Model was published, though, Brunel’s alleged transgressions were made well-known. In a 1988 episode of 60 Minutes, Diane Sawyer interviewed two dozen models who said Brunel or his fellow agent, Claude Haddad, had drugged and raped them. Around the same time, CBS’s Craig Pyes spoke to five models who similarly asserted that Brunel or his friends had drugged and raped them.
“Even at that time, Brunel had a reputation as a man one could go to procure a ‘date’ with a young model,” Jenna Sauers wrote for Jezebel.
These types of allegations against Brunel have spanned decades, with model Zoe Brock writing in a 2017 blog post: Brunel “tried to have sex with me when I was a child. He gave me drugs.”
The shocking and very public-facing accusations tied to the early 60 Minutes and CBS exposés never resulted in legal action against Brunel. However, they did affect him in a professional capacity; prompting some – such as modeling industry power player Eileen Ford – to cut ties with him. But while some were closing the door on the disgraced Frenchman, one person was willing to give him a go: a New York-based money-manager named Jeffrey Epstein.
According to a lawsuit that attorney Bradley Edwards filed against the U.S. on behalf of unnamed Jeffrey Epstein accusers in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2008 in connection with Epstein’s plea deal and markedly lenient conviction earlier that year, Epstein provided funding for Brunel’s agency, which he renamed as MC2 in 2005 and headquartered in New York.
In their filings in that case, which is still underway more than a decade later, the plaintiffs have alleged that Brunel, who appeared in Australia’s Next Top Model series in 2008, “runs MC2, a company for which Epstein provides financial support.” Former MC2 bookkeeper Vasquez stated in a 2010 deposition that Epstein invested $1 million in the agency. The Daily Beast asserted in 2017 that the sum provided by Epstein was probably closer to $2 million. Brunel has denied in the past that Epstein played a role in funding the agency, but in a January 2015 lawsuit revealed that he did “receive a letter of credit from Epstein at 5 percent interest.”
In addition to allegedly funding MC2, which has outposts in Miami and Tel Aviv, the suit also asserted that Epstein allegedly “hooked Brunel up … with apartments for [himself] and his models … not far from Epstein's E. 71st St. mansion” in New York.
Still yet, those same filings accuse Epstein of “deliberately engag[ing] in a pattern of racketeering that involved luring minor children [from South America, Europe, and the former Soviet countries] through MC2, mostly girls under the age of 17, to engage in sex.”
As Jezebel noted in 2010, “MC2 isn’t considered a major industry player, [but] it isn’t exactly bottom-shelf, either: MC2 in New York most recently launched the career of Latvian editorial star Ginta Lapina (Brunel “discovered” Lapina via an MC2 scouting competition for young teens). Worldwide, MC2 represents such stars as Sessilee Lopez in Miami, and top models Candace Swanepoel, Marina Lynchuk, Natalia Chabanenko, and Elisa Sednaoui in Tel Aviv.”
As of the time of publication, MC2 remains in business with some of its clients including Nordstrom and Macy’s, according to Bloomberg, although its social media accounts have not been updated since 2017. But the company has not been unscathed by its – and its majority owner’s – association with one of the most heavily-profiled and heavily-sued pedophiles in recent years.
According to the defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit that Brunel and his agency filed against Epstein in a Florida state court in January 2015, they have “lost millions of dollars in revenue since the media revealed that [Brunel, MC2] and Epstein were associated.”
The complaint alleges that “after criminal charges were filed against Epstein, [Brunel and MC2] were widely implicated in the media as being ‘linked’ to Epstein,” and such “false stories caused both Plaintiffs a tremendous loss of business.” Those losses included failed mergers with other agencies and up to “potentially ten million dollars in lost profits,” the complaint states. More than that, Brunel alleged that he lost “considerable time and money” after being denied visas to travel to the U.S., and has suffered “severe emotional stress” as a “direct result” of Epstein’s conduct and the allegedly improper links to Brunel and his business.
In April, a court of appeals in Miami-Dade County sided with Epstein, whose counsel argued that Brunel had failed to properly serve their counsel with the complaint, as required for the commencement of legal action. With Epstein as the sole defendant in the case, it will likely be brought to a swift close.
As for Brunel, he was spotted last month “reveling in his natural habitat: a lavish party packed with the rich and beautiful,” according to the Guardian. “Dressed all in white, the 72-year-old model scout mingled beside the pool at the Paris Country Club’s $1,300-a-table Soirée Blanche, as a rock-and-roll band played, pink champagne flowed and a chef grilled rib-eye steaks over a flame.”
The following day, Epstein would be arrested on sex trafficking charges by federal law enforcement at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. He had just arrived home from Paris.
Brunel did not respond to a request for comment.