She was France's star television interviewer in the 1980s and
1990s. But her gilded life was upended five years ago when her
husband, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in New York on
charges, since dropped, of sexual harassment of a hotel maid.
While U.S. prosecutors investigated the case that forced the
Socialist politician to resign as managing director of the
International Monetary Fund and abandon plans to run for
president in France, Sinclair stood by her man in public -
before divorcing him after their return to Paris.
She used some of their "sad, enforced stay" in New York to
research a book on her grandfather, Paul Rosenberg, one of
Europe's greatest 20th century art merchants, who was the
exclusive dealer of Picasso, Braque and Matisse.
"When I was growing up, my family told me a lot about him but I
wanted to be on my own and make my career outside of the art
family," Sinclair, 67, now editorial director of the French
edition of the Huffington Post online newspaper, told Reuters in
More than 60 masterpieces that went through Rosenberg's
galleries in Paris and New York - some looted by the Nazis and
recovered after World War Two - will go on display for the first
time together in the Belgian city of Liege in September.
The exhibition of works from public and private collections,
including a couple of Sinclair's personal heirlooms, will tell
the story of "21 rue La Boetie", the address of Rosenberg's
pre-war Paris gallery. It was raided by the Nazis in 1940 and
handed to their French collaborators, who turned it into an
anti-Semitic propaganda center.
"A gallery that was a temple of art became a temple of horror,"
The Pompidou Center and the Picasso Museum in Paris, the Museum
of Modern Art in New York and Vienna's Albertinum, all former
customers of Rosenberg, who died in 1959, and of his son
Alexandre, who ran the gallery after his death until 1987, are
lending works for the show.
Sinclair said her grandfather took big commercial risks to
promote the work of his proteges Picasso, Braque, Matisse and
Leger before their avant garde styles were widely acclaimed. He
sold works by Impressionist masters to pay for their canvases,
but only sold his first Picasso as late as 1925.
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"He had to sell a lot of other paintings to buy the modern art
he believed in," Sinclair said. Rosenberg built friendships with
his artists, documented in many letters preserved in family
archives. Picasso became a neighbor and close friend.
When the Jewish merchant and his family fled Paris in 1940,
during the phoney war before Germany invaded France, Matisse
visited him in a rented house near Bordeaux for long
conversations about beauty, nature and art as the drums of war
beat ever closer.
After the family emigrated to the United States a few weeks later,
French informers helped the German embassy locate and remove
paintings Rosenberg had hidden at the house and in a bank vault in
the nearby town of Libourne.
Sinclair said Rosenberg, a private man who eschewed the social life
of his wealthy clients and had left-wing political sympathies, was
painfully aware that he was a merchant with an eye for art, but not
a creator himself.
Nowadays, Rosenberg might be categorized as belonging to the "caviar
left", Sinclair said, citing a label often applied by critics to
herself and Strauss-Kahn because of their lifestyle.
"That's typically French... If you are rich, you have to be on the
right," she said. "I was accused a lot of being from the 'caviar
left' because I'm a bourgeois. I earned my living by my work with
comfort, and it's always an accusation."
(Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing
by Mark Heinrich)
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