Bar Refaeli is an Israeli model and actress most famous for being the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model and 2012 Maxim World’s Most Beautiful Woman.
Refaeli (born June 4, 1985) was born in Hod HaSharon, Israel. Her mother was a successful Israeli model in the 1970s under her maiden name Tzipi Levine.
Though she appeared in a commercial at eight months old, Refaeli’s modeling career began when she was age 15 after having her childhood braces removed. Represented by Irene Marie Models, she appeared in ad campaigns for fashion brands Castro and Pilpel and in a commercial for Milky. In 2000, she won the title ‘Model of the Year’ in an Israeli beauty contest.
In 2007, Refaeli debuted in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, becoming the first Israeli model to appear in the magazine, and went on to become the issue’s 2009 cover model. She has also been featured in ELLE (France), Maxim, and GQ (Italy) and in ad campaigns for Subaru, Accessorize, Rampage, Brazilian clothing line Besni, Italian jewelry line Marco Bicego, and Garnier International.
In 2007, controversy arose over Refaeli marrying, and later divorcing, a family acquaintance in order to avoid mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. Refaeli later stated, ‘I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.’ In 2009, fellow Israeli and Sports Illustrated model Esti Ginzburg criticized Refaeli for her avoidance of military service.
Refaeli’s acting roles include having co-starred in the Israeli TV series Pick Up (2005) and co-hosted the Bravo special program Tommy Hilfiger Presents Ironic Iconic America (2008). She also served as a guest judge on cycle four of Germany’s Next Topmodel hosted by Heidi Klum. In late 2012, she played Cinderella in a Cinderella musical staged in Israel. In 2013, Refaeli played a starring role in the French-Israeli crime-caper film Kidon, a comedy in which she stars as a Mossad assassin involved in liquidating a terrorist. That year she also hosted the first season of The X Factor Israel, which became the most popular music show in Israel, leading to them bringing her back in 2015 for season two. In 2018, Refaeli appeared in a music video of X Factor judge, Ivri Lider.
Refaeli was known for her on-and-off relationship with American actor Leonard DiCaprio which began in November 2005 and officially ended in June 2009.
In May 2012, Refaeli was voted the world’s most beautiful woman by the annual Maxim Magazine Hot 100 list.
In 2019, Refaeli co-hosted the Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv.
In August 2020, Refaeli was sentenced to nine months of community service and her mother to 16 months in prison for tax evasion. She reportedly owed $2.25 million in back taxes.
Refaeli married Israeli businessman Adi Ezra in 2015. They have three children.
Sources: Bar Refaeli Official Website;
“Bar Refaeli,” Wikipedia;
Cnaan Liphshiz, “Bar Refaeli to co-host Eurovision in Tel Aviv with Arab-Israeli poet,” JTA, (January 25, 2019);
Marcy Oster, “Bar Refaeli owes Israel $2.25 million in back taxes,” JTA, (May 12, 2019);
“Supermodel Bar Refaeli Sentenced Over Tax Case,” AP, (September 13, 2020).