Editor's note: Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on July 6, 2019, and faced federal charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. On August 10, 2019, he died in an apparent jailhouse suicide. Since then, models have come forward to accuse MC2 founder Jean-Luc Brunel of sexual assault. For more information, see The Daily Beast's reporting here.
Jean Luc Brunel, the septuagenarian French co-owner of MC2 modeling agency and Karin Models, has filed a lawsuit against his convicted pal Epstein for supposedly losing him millions in profits and sending him into deep depression (he’s displaying the prescriptions and psychotherapy forms to prove it!), and he’s also picking a fight with with a no-name hosting website for tarring his rep.
The fall from grace over the past six months for the 71-year-old Brunel has been steep. The man who claims he discovered and “molded the careers” of Christy Turlington, Sharon Stone, and Milla Jovovich is apparently panicking and fears his modeling agency MC2 may be underwater, according to the lawsuit.
In the suit, which was filed in a Florida court in January, Brunel paints a grim snapshot of his personal hell and claims it’s all because of one man, the guy with the ear-to-ear grin: Jeffrey Epstein. (Attempts to reach Epstein’s attorney for comment were unsuccessful.)
Once Epstein landed back in the news over allegations he and his rich, powerful friends bedded underage girls, Brunel seems to have become radioactive. In the lawsuit, Brunel says he can’t recruit any more because the European gals know how to search his name online. In South America, moms refuse to entrust their daughters with a man who has been branded a sex trafficker. (Brunel has denied that he supplied girls for Epstein or his pals.) The effects, Brunel says, have him bleeding millions.
Now he’s rolling the dice in civil court.
His lawsuit is loaded with jaw-dropping accusations spelling out how Brunel has become a pariah in the fashion world, is dealing with visa troubles, takes prescription pills to deal with depression, and is convinced that Jeffrey Epstein and a small no-name Canadian website and its founder are the culprits behind his misery.
But what’s most incredible is Brunel implicates himself and his once-close pal Epstein in possibly committing “blatant” obstruction of justice.
The fall into “severe emotional stress,” Brunel alleges in the lawsuit, is all because of his association with the convicted Palm Beach sex offender. “Epstein’s conduct was the direct cause of Brunel’s psychological state. The press was reporting extensively on the lurid details of Epstein’s illegal activities with the underaged girls,” the papers say.
The modeling magnate has since “been on medications to deal with the effects of this,” and has also turned to psychotherapy.
Brunel submitted in his lawsuit his actual clinical depression diagnosis of “6-7” on a scale of “0-10” and that he’s been able to get through nights “with a sleep aid.”
According to the Frenchman’s Fort Lauderdale doctor, Royce N. Jalazo, Brunel needs psychotherapy “due to a subjective sense of depression related to what he believes is a loss of business in his modeling agency as a result of slander published against his business.”
Brunel says his choirboy image was shattered once he was fingered (falsely, he claims) as the proprietor of young talent for Epstein and others to allegedly prey upon. Yet Brunel was accused of the sexual harassment of models as far back as 1988 by a blockbuster 60 Minutes profile. A decade later, he was named in a BBC expose on modeling agencies that exploit very young girls, according to Ian Halperin’s book The Bold and the Beautiful: Inside the Dazzling and Deadly World of Supermodels.
According to another court document reviewed by The Daily Beast, at least one alleged Epstein victim has accused Brunel of bringing “young girls (ranging to ages as young as 12) to the United States for sexual purposes and farm[ing] them out to his friends, especially Epstein.”
In his lawsuit, Brunel implies that because of these allegations, he has lost “considerable time & money” by being unable to get a visa to come and go from the U.S. as he pleases. “Brunel has been forced to cancel his latest visa applications as a result of the delays,” the lawsuit says.
And the broke Brunel says that the monetary damages he’s suffering “to this day” are going to force him to pony up lots of cash to get out of the red. “Brunel will need to spend millions of dollars in order to restore his business to what it was once was worth—money that [Brunel] does not have.”
Also included in the lawsuit are medical exhibits of various prescriptions for Prozac and Rivotril that bear Brunel’s name on a label from a Bangkok hospital.
As it turns out, it’s not just Epstein that Brunel is beefing with. He also blames his woes on a Canadian-based hosting website, called Yi.org, which he says runs stories about escorts and Epstein on the various sites it allegedly hosts.
The lawsuit calls out Tyler McDonald, whom Brunel says is the owner of Yi.org, for hosting hyperlinks that Brunel contends “damaged Brunel’s reputation as an owner of a well-established modeling agency.”
Never mind the stories about Brunel on sites like Jezebel, Huffington Post, and the aforementioned 60 Minutes—it’s Yi.org that apparently got his goat. “In about 2009, Yi.org by and through the actions of its owner, McDonald, began hosting websites that contained hyperlinks that contained blatantly false and extremely disparaging information about [Brunel],” the lawsuit says.
A screengrab of the sites allegedly hosted by Yi.org, and included in the lawsuit, show Brunel’s name splashed under racy headlines like “Miami Beach Florida Escorts” and “Escort Girls in Florida,” among others.
In the past six months, Brunel claims in the lawsuit, he’s been alienated by everybody in the fashion business, from photographers to international scouts. And he says he can’t get “fresh faces” to replenish MC2’s modeling stable.
While Brunel has previously denied that Epstein gave him seed money to found MC2, in the new lawsuit, Brunel claims that a year after opening shop, he “received a letter of credit from Epstein at 5 percent interest.” Brunel says he chipped in $1 million of his own money. But that seed capital evaporated, he says, after “false links between [Brunel] and Epstein began to gain strength online.” Attempts to merge with Elite Models Paris also tanked and Brunel’s million bucks was gone. Moreover, Brunel contends that because of Epstein’s sexual deviance he’s “lost potentially ten million dollars in profits due to this $1 million loss.”
The lawsuit claims that Jolanta Sadauskiene, owner of Modilinos agency in Lithuania, informed Brunel that a prime recruit walked after “she said she found some article on the Internet.” The same thing happened with Vladimir Yudashkin, director of Ukranian-based 1 Mother Agency, who last October delivered Brunel bad news when a model they hoped would sign “rejected.” “Initially she intended to sign the contract, but later she came across that article in Internet about you involved in illegal activities with young models,” Yudashkin said, according to the lawsuit. Mothers of models in Brazil apparently won’t deal with Brunel either. Brunel says that Sandra Petkanic of the Fox Fashion Agency wrote him in a letter, “We can’t place any new faces with you because the parents will refuse and it makes us look bad to propose the girls to your agency.”
On MC2’s website, the agency says it continues to keep its doors open in New York. A staffer there defended Brunel when The Daily Beast visited its offices last month, during a separate investigation into the death of beloved model and party promoter Pedro Gaspar, who overdosed in his apartment directly upstairs from MC2.
The modeling agency’s website also says it has annexes in Miami and Tel Aviv.
When The Daily Beast attempted to reach Brunel at his New York office for comment on the lawsuit, a woman answering the phone said her boss wasn’t even in the U.S. “Jean-Luc [Brunel] is not in town, he’s in South America.” His lawyer also confirmed that his client was not in the country.
Brunel, in his lawsuit, makes a bid to absolve himself entirely from involvement in Epstein’s alleged underage sex parties. “Brunel has clean hands and was never involved in sex trafficking,” the papers say.
It adds: “Epstein’s illegal activities were outrageous and extreme; they involved receiving massages from the under-aged girls while the girls were nude or nearly nude; penetration of the girls with a finger or object; or full-intercourse.” (Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor child for prostitution in 2008.)
In the lawsuit’s kookiest claim, Brunel seems to throw both himself and Epstein into possibly more legal trouble by suggesting the pair colluded in dodging a federal deposition.
Brunel was subpoenaed to testify in Epstein’s federal civil cases by lawyers for various alleged victims back in November 2009. At the time, Brunel, who had already demanded and been granted a delay to be deposed, informed the lawyers that he couldn’t make the mandatory meeting. In a separate court document acquired by The Daily Beast, the lawyers for at least one alleged victim claimed Brunel made “false representations” when he said he couldn’t make the depositions. They also asked the judge to “sanction” him.
Brunel’s latest lawsuit claims he was told to flee the country once the subpoenas were handed down: “Brunel was told by Epstein to leave the Palm Beach area in anticipation of a deposition of Plaintiff Brunel in a criminal case against Epstein.”
Brunel says he heeded the advice and took a trip to “Europe and Asia for a period of time. This was done for the sole purpose of delaying Plaintiff Brunel’s deposition.”
Brunel says that “a medical emergency in the family of his attorney” caused further delay and Brunel “lost a huge opportunity to clear his name and that of his agency, MC2.”
And thus he never made good on the subpoena. “It was never rescheduled and he was never deposed.”
The lawsuit announces, “this was a blatant example of obstruction of justice in the criminal case.”
Dissuading Brunel from testifying and convincing him to skip town could amount to a jailable offense, Peter Lushing, who teaches criminal procedure at Cardozo Law School, told The Daily Beast. “If you encourage people who appear as witnesses in prosecutions to leave to evade subpoenas that could easily be considered obstruction of justice.”