Paolo Buonfante Predator of the Fashion Model BusinessPosted on January 30, 2018
Having been fired from every job he has had here in America, Paolo Buonfante continues his blight on the modeling business here in Miami. Recently he was fired from Elite Model Management Miami for undisclosed reasons however I have my ideas since one of my girlfriends was represented by this guy. He is now working at DAS Models in Miami and am certain he is carrying over the same predatory behavior. He is well known in the business to cheat the models, especially those who are not from this country. Also he is known to make an entrepreneurial business out of the models he/Elite/ and now Das Models represents. He is always hitting on the models including my then girlfriend. All the while having a model girlfriend with whom he has an illegitimate child.
Having had a long and successful life in this business, first as a model(with Elite in Chicago and Wilhelmina in NYC) and then a fashion photographer for the last thirty years, I have seen my fair share of reprehensible behavior. Paolo Buonfante is the worst! At Elite in Miami, he had a model apartment that was maybe 400 square feet with one bathroom and two sets of bunkbed and then had the audacity of charging the models $1000+ per month to stay there($4000). My girlfriend I had moved in with me and he still was charging her even through he knew she was living with me. Then he never would pay her what the agency owed her. I decided to go ask him about both the apartment charges as well as not paying her more than $50,000, that I calculated.
When I arrived with my GF, the first thing he did was try to discredit me. Then he started discrediting his other employers who had fired him in the past. I asked him where my GFs money was and his response was so over the top and aggressive! Very easy to see how defensive he was since I had caught him. He then went on to say that my GF, although she had been living with me for 4 months, still owed the agency money! Ludicris! She was living with me and I paid for everything since the agency held her hostage by never giving her any money. He could never produce a balance sheet to prove to me that my GF owed anything. Through all of this she continued to work and travel for work all the while not getting one penny.
Now keep in mind I was shooting models for Elite at least a couple of times each week as well as for most of the agencies. After questioning his theft from my GF, I never shot another girl for the agency and all of the bookers there, who were always so helpful and cordial, now blocked me, at Paolos demand, and to keep their jobs. He has a proven record of being a bully and actually threaten to throw me out of his office when I confronted him about not paying the models and holding them in town without any money. After all without any money the models can’t go anywhere. Now he constantly tries to silence me my attacking my credibility and perpetuating lies to everyone who mentions my name. This is why I want to set the story straight.
Paolo Buonfante is known for is his misrepresenting the rates he is getting for the models. What I mean by this is that he tells the model she is getting and in reality she is making 2-3 times that amount and then he pockets the difference. A good example is this. My GF was told she was going to make $1000 a day to shoot lingerie in Columbia S.A. Having photographed many major lingerie campaigns for years I knew this rate was low. I asked the GF when she was at the job to see if she could find out the rate that not only was negotiated but pre-paid. She did and found out that the rate was for 3 days at $3500 per day!!! That is $10,500 and she thought it would only be $3000 plus they would take 20% of that money leaving her $2400. I knew it and she still never saw any of that money.
I sent her into the agency to ask for her money day after day and never received one dime from them. He liked having her here since most of the models had moved onto other markets. It was the middle of summer. Without models in town the agency doesn’t make money. I told the GF that I had to travel to Europe and I wasn’t going to pay for her knowing that Buonfante had stolen plenty of her money and she should get him to buy the ticket and pay her what he owes her.
She came home and told me that he wouldn’t give her any money. Therefore to force his hand in paying I told her to move out. When my GF called Buonfante, he called the police and gave them a false report and supposedly, with what he told them, came to my house. I was told all about this from my neighbors. Nothing was ever said or done to me all the while Paolo Buonfante continues to perpetuate this bitter and fallacious story to hurt and discredit me and my business. After all of his self-imposed drama Elite Models finally paid for a ticket for her to go back home to Europe.
I have been playing tennis for years with the chief of police of Miami Beach. If whatever Paolo Buonfante told the police in his false report were true, the chief wouldn’t be able to spend any time with me. After all of this and the lies he has told about me, that same GF came back to Miami and stayed with me for another 2 months, I honestly don’t know what lies this guy keeps telling about me but he knows I am not afraid to tell everyone about his deceptive and predatory practices on models.
I certainly hope this blog post lets models, their parents, and friends know about the deceptive practices of Paolo Buonfante. I am certain that he is continuing to glean money from not only the models but also from the agencies he works for.