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John Casablancas, Pioneering Supermodel Agent, Dies at 70

The founder of Elite Model Management helped make Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell into superstars.
John Casablancas
Studio Fernanda Calfat

John Casablancas, the modeling agent who helped launch the careers of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer, has died. He was 70.

The founder of Elite Model Management died of cancer in Rio de Janeiro, The New York Times reports. The pioneering agent is largely credited with bringing about the age of the supermodel through Elite, founded in Paris in 1972.

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He steered the careers of women such as Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen and Andie MacDowell, turning models into recognizable celebrities in their own rights.

His successes were also rocked by scandals. He was accused of engaging in relationships with underage models and resigned from his agency in 2000, following a BBC One undercover exposé showing some of Elite’s European agents bragging about using drugs and having sex with young models.

At its height, Elite had $100 million in bookings per year.

Casablancas is survived by his wife, Aline Wermelinger, and by five children, including The Strokes’ lead singer Julian Casablancas.

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