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‘The Strauss-Kahns’: a tale of sex, secrets and politics

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-06-11

A new book released on Friday gives a vivid account of the steady rise and vertiginous fall of one of France’s most notorious power couples, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair.

With its 272 pages laced with tales of power, politics, secrets and sex – lots of sex – “Les Strauss-Kahn”, a new book examining the steady rise and spectacular fall of one of France's most talked-about couples, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife Anne Sinclair, has got the country’s media in a tizzy.

Written by Raphaëlle Bacqué and Ariane Chemin, two of French daily Le Monde's most seasoned journalists, “Les Strauss-Kahn” has been described as an “anti-biography” by Europe1 radio and hailed as “impossible to put down” by daily Le Figaro.

In a frank account of Strauss-Kahn’s relationship to power, the book explores how the former IMF chief and one-time presidential hopeful was able to indulge in his extremely risqué, even damning behaviour relatively unchecked until his arrest on May 14, 2011, on charges of attempting to rape a maid at New York’s upscale Sofitel hotel.

Although the case was ultimately dismissed, the incident at the Sofitel appeared to be merely the tip of the iceberg. A succession of lawsuits and investigations soon followed in both the United States and back in France.

The revelations highlighted the extent to which Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour had been overlooked or even protected by his spouse, his inner-circle and his peers.

“What hit us the most was the repeated accidents, apologies and communication that was presented to the outside world,” Bacqué said in a May 7 interview with French radio station France Info. “There were multiple accidents -- the incident at the Sofitel is the most recent, but there have been several scandals.”

“Each time, we would see this couple, with Dominique Strauss-Kahn making a public apology, above all to his wife, her looking at him lovingly, and the two leaving arm in arm ...  Behind all that there was obviously something else going on, and that’s what we wanted to look at,” she added.

While some of the stories in “Les Strauss-Kahn” are now general knowledge, others are not. Take for instance the little-known tale involving President François Hollande’s partner, Valérie Trierweiler. According to the book, Strauss-Kahn approached Trierweiler while she was working as a political reporter, and asked, “How is the prettiest journalist in Paris?”

Trierweiler didn’t miss a beat.

“I thought that was Anne Sinclair,” she apparently said, referring to Strauss-Kahn’s wife, who is also a journalist.

‘Let’s keep it between us, hunh?’

In an excerpt of the book, Bacqué and Chemin describe an incident that took place in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne park, a notorious night-time haunt for prostitutes, before Strauss-Kahn's tenure as IMF director and while Nicolas Sarkozy still served as interior minister.

One night, a police officer came across several cars stopped in the middle of a road that ran through the park. From the fogged-up windows, it looked as though there were many people inside. The police officer tapped on one of the cars’ windows, and a door opened. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was among its occupants."

"Was there a written account of the incident that was later destroyed in a paper shredder? Was the mere story enough? One thing is sure: When Alain Gardère [head of public safety in Paris], told the story to the minister and his cabinet director, Claude Guéant, Sarkozy laughed uncontrollably, unable to stop himself (...)."

“In the summer of 2007, [Sarkozy, who was by then president] met with [Strauss-Kahn] just before his departure for the IMF, but did not allude to the secret ‘affair’ that made him burst out laughing months earlier. Even though DSK’s appointment appeared to be well underway, Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated his orders that nothing be said (...): ‘He will undoubtedly get the IMF [position]. Let’s keep it between us, hunh?’"

“Far from trying to impede the Socialist politician, [Sarkozy] chose to protect [Strauss-Kahn’s] reputation.”

According to Chemin, Sarkozy is not the only French politician who could be seen, to a degree, as being complicit in the very behaviour that led to Strauss-Kahn’s fall from grace. There were very few people, if anybody, within Strauss-Kahn’s entourage who actually made an attempt to protect him from his own actions. Convinced that the former IMF director would one day become France's president, those surrounding him turned a blind eye to the swinger parties and racy soirées, fencing them within the realm of gossip and rumour for years.

“Each time, we see the same actors surrounding him,” Chemin told France Info. “That’s to say, a lobbying firm called Euro RSCG, but also advisers who quickly became his court, because little by little their prince, their boss, their master was climbing the steps to power, and they too were being sucked along.”

Date created : 2012-06-08


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