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’42-year Mystery Unveiled’: The true face of Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ Album discovered

For over four decades, the identity of the enigmatic woman gracing the cover of Duran Duran’s 1982 album ‘Rio’ remained one of pop culture’s enduring mysteries. This striking image, created by the late artist Patrick Nagel, has now been definitively linked to a real-life muse. Through meticulous research by Nagel historian and art broker Monica Moynihan, and with confirmation from Nagel expert Mark Walker, it has been revealed that the model is Marcie Hunt, a name previously unknown to Duran Duran fans and the broader public alike.

In a recent Instagram post, Moynihan shared that the reference photo for the album cover was sourced from a February 1981 issue of Vogue Paris. Walker, while perusing vintage fashion magazines, stumbled upon an editorial spread featuring Hunt. Despite the model wearing glasses in the magazine photo, her distinctive smile and eyes matched those immortalized on the ‘Rio’ cover. Walker described his realization with palpable excitement, stating, “I saw that smile. I saw those eyes, those eyes that I’d stared at hundreds of times by this point in my life, hundreds if not thousands of times. I’ve been entranced by this magical woman for over 40 years. I knew it was her.”

 

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A post shared by Duran Duran (@duranduran)

Further corroboration came from Barry Kahn, Patrick Nagel’s former technical art assistant, who confirmed Hunt as the model, praising Walker’s discovery as a “great catch.”

Marcie Hunt, now a winery owner in Napa, California, responded with astonishment to this revelation. On her own Instagram, she expressed her surprise and delight, recounting how “Rio” had been a part of her life since its release, even playing at her wedding three decades ago. “I am amazed that after 42 years, I am also ‘Rio’ on the famous album cover for Duran Duran in the early 80s. I love Duran Duran, and Tom and I had a DJ play ‘Rio’ at our wedding—now almost 31 years ago,” Hunt shared, reflecting on her unrecognized iconic status.

Duran Duran, themselves, were taken aback by the news. They shared Walker’s Instagram post with an ecstatic “WOW!” on their official account, though they have yet to make a formal statement. The band’s connection to the album remains strong, with “Rio” featuring hits like ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ and ‘Save a Prayer.’ The album significantly contributed to their global fame, leading to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 and the release of their sixteenth studio album, ‘Danse Macabre,’ in October 2023.

Patrick Nagel, whose art-deco pop-art style featuring dark-haired women became iconic in the early 1980s, tragically passed away in 1984 at the age of 38, leaving behind a legacy that continues to influence and captivate. This recent identification of Marcie Hunt not only solves a long-standing mystery but also pays homage to Nagel’s artistic vision, reaffirming the enduring allure of his work and its cultural impact.

This discovery is more than just a curious footnote in the annals of music history; it is a testament to the lasting impression of art and its ability to connect with audiences across generations. The face of “Rio,” now known, continues to dance in the imaginations of fans old and new, embodying the vibrant spirit of the 1980s that Duran Duran so masterfully captured.

 

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