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One of Israel's most successful talent agents was found dead Friday near his Netanya apartment tower, apparently after falling from his fourth-story patio.

The circumstance that led to the death of Oved Machpud at age 38 are still being investigated. Machpud's family consented to an autopsy, which is scheduled to take place today.

Machpud, one of the most colorful behind-the-scenes characters of Israeli show business, launched his career at age 22, when he opened a talent agency from his parents' home in Netanya.

He later moved to Tel Aviv, where he represented local stars like Nataly Atiya, Karin Magrizo, Michal Amdurski, Dana Ashkenazi, Mital Dohan and Moran Eizenstein, as well as other models, singers, actors and pop stars. In that stage of his career, he launched some of the biggest stars of Channel 2, Israel's first commercial TV channel.

Celebrities who worked with Machpud said his relationships with his clients often advanced beyond the professional, and that they formed warm personal bonds with him.

Machpud went through several financial and business crises. The first occurred when he was trying to produce and direct a rock opera, "Loving Rona" ("Le'ehov et Rona"). The production went under, along with considerable sums of Machpud's money.

To recover from that failure, Machpud teamed up with casting director Atara Tzachor, who became a partner in his talent agency. "Oved wanted to turn illusions into reality," she said yesterday, after learning of his death.

In 2005, Machpud bought out Tzachor's share in the agency. "As an agent, he could tell his clients what they were going to become," she added. "And he had amazing verbal skills. He was a man who lived in a fantasy, in the positive sense of the word, and he could sell. We were good friends and we parted ways. I have a heavy feeling."