Slice of Sixties sells for pounds 10m

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The Independent Online
A MODEL AGENCY born out of the exuberance of the swinging Sixties has been sold for more than pounds 10m by the two women who set it up on a $1,000 loan.

Models 1, now a world renowned business with Yasmin le Bon, Patsy Kensit, Jerry Hall, and more recently daughter Elizabeth, to its name, has come far from its humble but essentially hip beginnings.

Jose Fonseca and April Ducksbury met after they both left their previous jobs with only vague plans for the future. Ms Ducksbury had worked for the photographer David Anthony but left after a row to set up her own business.

At the same time, a sharp-eyed booker whom she had spoken to at London- based English Boy had the same idea. Models Marisa Berenson, Ingrid Boulting and Susan Murray finally persuaded Ms Fonseca to move, promising to go with her.

The two never looked back and have run the agency, based in Fulham, since its birth in Ms Fonseca's Chelsea basement flat in 1968. When, within four months, they had recouped the $1,000 and more, they moved into the Fulham Road.

Now, 30 years later, the two directors who have remained business partners ever since have decided to sell up and make way for new blood.

The agency, which also manages more Nineties names such as Erin O' Connor and Karen Elson, has been sold to its senior managers, Karen Diamond and Kathy Pryer.

Though the agency's PR company refused to confirm its sale price, speculation put it a more than pounds 10m. Now based in the King's Road, it has 1,000 male and female models on its books and employs 30 staff who deal with designers such asCalvin Klein, Cerruti and Paul Smith.

The secret of the agency's success appeared to be in its holistic approach to the models, treating them as having careers that needed to be managed rather than bodies to match up with bookings.