Jean-Luc Brunel, a 75-year-old French former executive in the modeling industry, was discovered hanged in his cell in La Santé prison in Paris on Saturday according to reports. Brunel was arrested in December 2020 at Charles de Gualle airport as he was boarding a flight to Dakar, Senegal. He was accused of sexual harassment and the rape of minors between the ages of 15 and 18. He was also questioned on suspicion of supplying underage girls to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who also died by suicide in a New York prison in 2019. Brunel claimed his innocence to all charges.
Brunel began working in the modeling industry in the 1970s, eventually becoming the head of Karin Models in France. He is widely acknowledged with having discovered Christy Turlington and Milla Jovovich; he also took credit for launching the careers of Sharon Stone, Rebecca Romjin, Estella Warren, Monica Bellucci, and Jerry Hall.
In 1988, Brunel was included in a 60 Minutes investigation anchored by Diane Sawyer, in which women accused him of sexual harassment and assault. He denied the claims at the time.
In 1999 he was banned from Karin following a BBC investigation into corruption and abuse in the fashion industry. (That exposé has since had some controversy of its own.) Soon thereafter, Jeffrey Epstein helped fund the creation of the Miami-based MC2 Model Management. (Brunel sold off the agency’s assets in 2019.)
In court documents released in 2019 during a lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently awaiting sentencing on multiple sex trafficking counts, Virginia Giuffre alleged that teen models were “farmed out”by Brunel to Epstein and others for sex. Giuffre, a victim of Epstein’s who alleges she was recruited by Maxwell, recently settled out of court with Prince Andrew, whom she sued under the New York Child Victims Act.
In December 2021, photos of Brunel, Epstein and Maxwell, including one on the so-called “Lolita Express,” were uncovered. A source involved with the French investigation told The Daily Mail that that images would “assist with their case” as they “point[ed] to an intimate working relationship between suspects who were said to be running a sex ring together.”
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