Doctor refuses donation raised by nude Mrs Sarkozy
The Cambodia-based doctor says he is declining the French first lady's donation because the Cambodians disapprove of exploiting the female flesh.14 April 2008
GENEVA - A doctor running hospitals in Cambodia said Sunday he had refused a donation raised by selling a picture of France's first lady in the nude, because Cambodians disapproved of exploiting female flesh for money.
Swiss paediatrician Beat Richner, head of a children's medical care group, said he had turned down an offer of EUR 57,000 (CHF 90,000) raised at a New York auction last week of the 1993 picture of Italian ex-model Carla Bruni, now married to President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"My decision was taken out of respect for our patients and their mothers," he said in an interview with the weekly Le Matin Dimanche. "Accepting money obtained from exploitation of the female body would be perceived as an insult."
In Cambodia, "use of nudity is not understood in the way it is in the West".
He did not wish his institution, the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Association, "to be involved in the media exploitation of Madame Bruni".
"The idea behind this gift was to get publicity for the auction and the photographer," Richner was also quoted as saying. "It was a way of using us."
Michel Comte, the Swiss photographer who took the full-frontal picture of Bruni posing naked, was quoted in the Swiss press last month as saying he had thousands more images of her, including some much more explicit.
Several British newspapers published the shot of the first lady as she and Sarkozy arrived in Britain for a two-day state visit last month.
Comte had persuaded the seller, German collector Gert Elfering, to offer the money through the sale to a humanitarian cause, said Le Matin Dimanche.
The picture was auctioned at Christie's in New York.
The money will now instead be donated to a Swiss research institute developing the recycling of used water into fresh drinking water in poor countries, said Le Matin Dimanche.
"I have other nude photographs of Carla far more explicit, but I would never sell them," Comte was last month quoted as telling the daily Le Matin.
He said he had taken thousands of photos of Bruni in the 10 years they worked together. The auctioned nude was taken at the end of a session for Italian Vogue magazine.
[AFP / Expatica]