Strauss-Kahn's loyal wife holds purse and heart strings

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

If former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn survives his trial on sex assault charges it will be largely thanks to the apparently limitless love and money supplied by his wife Anne Sinclair.

Once France's best-loved television journalist, the blue-eyed 62-year-old socialite abandoned her own career to support her husband and was seen as the driving force behind his doomed bid to win the French presidency.

On Thursday she was in New York, loyally attending his bail hearing and working with lawyers behind the scenes to arrange the eye-wateringly expensive house arrest that was the precondition for his release.

For, while Strauss-Kahn's alleged victim is a chamber maid, a widowed African immigrant raising a teenage daughter in a small Brooklyn apartment, his devoted companion is a spectacularly wealthy heiress.

Portraying the elegant poise of a former primetime news anchor, Sinclair was the star of the hearing, blowing her fallen hero a kiss across the courtroom.

Strauss-Kahn's own US bank account, according to his lawyer, holds only in the "low seven figures" in cash, but Sinclair was on hand to provide a million dollars up front and a guarantee of five million to secure his bail.

She owns the couple's elegant Washington mansion, and rented the Manhattan apartment where he will now be forced to remain under electronic, video and manned surveillance pending his trial for assault and attempted rape.

The couple planned to use her fortune to support a bid to replace Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni as president and first lady of France next year. Now, she is paying US private detectives to oversee draconian bail conditions.

Alike in age and ambition, Strauss-Kahn and Sinclair were married in 1991, he a twice-divorced father-of-four, she a divorced mother-of-two.

He was a rising star in the Socialist party and government minister, she France's media darling, presenter of a weekly political interview show on the main private network and with a formidable network of Parisian contacts.

She sacrificed her career, having already reached the top of her profession, daring to dream he could one day reach the top of his.

Both were left-wing, but lived a life of luxury. When he moved to Washington in 2007 to lead the International Monetary Fund, she spent a reported four million dollars on a Georgetown house.

The couple already had two apartments in the most expensive districts of Paris, and a palatial mansion in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

The United States was not new territory for Sinclair, US-born herself. Her Jewish grandfather had fled to New York to escape the Nazi conquest of France, and was one of the 20th century's most successful art dealers.

As heir to his collection, Sinclair reportedly owns masterpieces worth several hundred million dollars, and Strauss-Kahn admitted three weeks ago that her wealth had shielded him "forever from want."

But this week's grave allegation is far from the first humiliation Sinclair has suffered as the wife of a man once known and widely admired as a serial womaniser but now accused of being an aggressive sexual predator.

In 2008, when her husband was sanctioned by the IMF for an "inappropriate" liaison with a subordinate, she forgave him publicly, writing on her blog: "We love each other like on the very first day."

Through it all, she remained loyal and affectionate, burnishing his public profile and presidential ambitions with celebrity magazine photo shoots that celebrated their glamorous domestic life on three continents.

Strauss-Kahn has every reason to be grateful for her financial, emotional and moral support, and paid her tribute in the second sentence of the letter he wrote this week from Rikers Island jail, resigning from the IMF.

"I think at this time first of my wife -- whom I love more than anything -- of my children, of my family, of my friends," he wrote, in unusually personal language for an internal communication in an international bureaucracy.

Sinclair had already issued a statement in France declaring: "I do not believe for one second the accusations brought against my husband. I have no doubt his innocence will be established."

© 2011 AFP

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