Jean-Luc Brunel’s Suicide Shuts One of the Main Doors to Unraveling the Mysteries of Jeffrey Epstein
With the apparent prison suicide of Jean-Luc Brunel—the owner of the model agency MC2 and a business associate of Jeffrey Epstein—early Saturday, one of the main doors to unraveling the mysteries that still surround Epstein, two and half years after Epstein’s own controversial suicide, just closed.
“Brunel knew everything—he knew everybody’s secrets,” one businessman who knew both men and partied with them in the 1980s told me over the weekend. “He was more integral to the sex-trafficking ring than Epstein was. He was there first.”
Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell // DOJ
(Brunel’s lawyers maintained his innocence, even after his death. "Jean-Luc Brunel has never stopped claiming his innocence. He has multiplied his efforts to prove it. A judge had released him a few months ago, and then he was re-incarcerated in undignified conditions," his lawyers said in a statement released after his death.)
But during the reporting of “Chasing Ghislaine,” my podcast and documentary series which focused on the mystery of the powerful men who propped up Epstein’s enterprise, Brunel’s name came up again and again—as not just a critical part of Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking operation, but as the originator.
Kira Dikhtyar, the Russian gymnast-turned-supermodel who recently claimed that, at just 15, she was raped by the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and who is now lobbying the UN for a universal age of consent, told me that it was Brunel who first introduced her to Epstein soon after she arrived in America—in a way that was certainly not straightforward.
With Kira Dikhtyar during the taping of “Chasing Ghislaine.”
Here is some of our conversation, edited for clarity:
WARD: You worked for MC2?
DIKHTYAR: I was recruited by Jean-Luc. I was in Miami for [a] Cosmopolitan shoot and I had lunch with Jean-Luc. And he says, "I'm gonna hook you up with somebody from Victoria's Secret." [Victoria’s Secret was owned by the retail billionaire, Leslie Wexner, who was one of Epstein’s business clients. Wexner has not been accused of any wrongdoing].
Every day, I used to get a call sheet, which was typical in the modeling industry. And I was living in the building that a lot of the models from MC2 lived in.
Well, one day my cast sheet from Jean-Luc said “Jeffrey Epstein” and an address on 51st Street. There was no explanation for this. So I thought maybe Epstein might be [a] photographer because the agency was trying to introduce us to as many photographers as possible for castings.
WARD: But you knew he might have to do with Victoria's Secret?
DIKHTYAR: I kind of put it together after, but I didn't really understand. It was written “on the request of Jean-Luc” on this paper.
WARD: Right. So what happened when you went to that big house in New York?
DIKHTYAR: First, I actually went to his office. He used to have an office, uh, on 51st and Madison, I think?
DIKHTYAR: So, first, I went to the office. And it was very weird. I was there with my modeling book and then somebody greeted me—
WARD: You mean his assistant—
DIKHTYAR: His assistant Les- Lesley. Lesley greeted me.
DIKHTYAR: And then he came in very confident with himself—very, uh, very happy to see a new blonde, to see somebody new. And we had a conversation. He started to ask me questions, and I soon realized he [was] not a photographer, but I still didn't know who he was. He asked me how old I was, what I wanted to do in New York. He went through my book very quickly, then put it down. And he invited me the same day to come over to his house. And I don't know why, but I did come over to his house.
WARD: You felt comfortable with him?
DIKHTYAR: Uh, yes, he was like a teacher… I was very comfortable, but I still didn’t understand who he was.
DIKHTYAR: But when I went to the house, he explained more about himself.
WARD: What did he tell you who he was?
DIKHTYAR: He told me he was my new manager. That he knows how to deal with finances and he knows, uh, how to help very rich people to avoid taxes.
WARD: Very rich people avoid taxes?
DIKHTYAR: Avoid taxes.
WARD: And did he say he got a flat fee for that?
DIKHTYAR: Yes… He said he was a mathematician. And he explained that he's getting flat fee from the clients and clients just transfer money to his, uh, account in the Virgin Islands. And he is taking care of, uh, all the money for these rich people. So that's how he would explain it to me.
Dikhtyar is one of the few models who says Epstein did not try to abuse her. She says that he paid her nonetheless to “look decorative” when he had important businessmen in his New York mansion—after he was released from jail in 2010. She received $1000 dollars just to sit in the hallway. But what’s never been answered about Epstein is what those businessmen (described by Dikhtyar as being Middle Eastern, from Silicon Valley, from Washington, DC, and from Hollywood) were doing in his home, even after he was a convicted sex offender, or where the bulk of Epstein’s fortune really came from. And what did Epstein mean, exactly, when he talked to Dikhtyar about what he was doing in the Virgin Islands?
Just as many people hoped, in vain, that Epstein’s former girlfriend and now convicted accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell might speak up, Brunel was seen as someone who would, potentially, have a lot of answers.
Now that that door’s been closed—in a way that’s eerily reminiscent of Epstein’s own death— the number of people under pressure to talk is dwindling.
The heat, however, was turned up last year on Epstein’s former attorney, Darren Indyke, and accountant, Richard Kahn, who are the co-executors of the Epstein estate, when Denise George, the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, named the two men as “indispensable captains” of the Epstein enterprise as part of a civil suit she’s bringing.
George’s suit charges that the Epstein estate was a web of companies and individuals who conspired to enable, finance, and protect Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking of young women and girls to the Virgin Islands.
George’s amended complaint specifically names Indyke and Kahn as people who “directed, approved, enabled, and justified millions of dollars in payments that fueled the Epstein Enterprise’s sex trafficking, including payments to women who were forced to have sex with Epstein and/or recruited others to be victimized.” The AG’s complaint further alleges, “[They] organized, controlled, and directed almost every aspect of the Epstein Enterprise. They were officers in virtually every corporate entity that Epstein created to fund and conceal his activities.” According to the complaint, “Indyke and Kahn were, in short, the indispensable captains of Epstein’s criminal enterprise, roles for which they were richly rewarded.”
Neither man has been accused of participating in Epstein’s alleged sexual crimes. Their lawyer, Daniel Weiner, told ABC News via email that they “categorically reject the allegations of misconduct made for the first time today by the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands regarding their purported roles in the so-called ‘Epstein Enterprise.’”
“Neither Mr. Indyke nor Mr. Kahn had any involvement in any misconduct by Mr. Epstein of any kind, at any time. It is enormously regrettable that the Attorney General chose to level false allegations and to unfairly malign the Co-Executors’ reputation without any proof or factual basis to do so,” Weiner wrote.
Still, my sources have long maintained that Indyke, who has worked for Epstein since the 1990s, is the key to unlocking the truth about Epstein’s money. Indyke will now be under pressure to waive the attorney-client privilege to defend himself in the suit brought by George in the Virgin Islands. It’s too soon to know how that will turn out in litigation. We can only hope.