Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 09:37 UK

Nude image of Carla Bruni sold

Carla Bruni
The nude image of Carla Bruni was sold for much more than expected

A nude photograph of France's first lady, Carla Bruni, has been auctioned for $91,000 (£46,098) - more than 20 times the expected price.

The image was taken by photographer Michel Comte in 1993, when Ms Bruni was a highly sought-after model.

The picture was bought by an anonymous bidder on behalf of a collector, said Christie's auction house in New York, which sold the image.

The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declined to comment.

Christie's said the photograph had been expected to fetch between $3,000 and $4,000.

The successful bid was for $75,000, but with commission the actual price paid rose to $91,000.

Rik Pike, a spokesman for the auction house, said "the media and the level of international interest for this photo" had "played their role" in the image being sold for a much higher sum.

Christie's said money from the sale of the photograph will go to Swiss charity Sodis, which provides clean drinking water to developing countries.

The image was part of a selection of photographs auctioned by collector Gert Elfering.

It also included nude photos of models Lauren Hutton, Gisele Bundchen and Kate Moss, and an image of actress Brigitte Bardot by American photographer Richard Avedon which fetched $181,000 (£91,600).

Mr Sarkozy married Ms Bruni in February, less than four months after the end of his volatile 11-year marriage to Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz.

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