French first lady takes action over bag

January 2009


Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has brought a legal action in the St Denis Court in Reunion Island (located in the Indian Ocean) over the use of her image. The case centres on a bag produced by a company called Pardon which featured a ‘posterised’ nude image of Bruni- Sarkozy taken in 1993 for an anti-AIDS campaign when she was 25. The former model claimed damages of 125,000 Euros which it was argued represented the commercial rate which would have been appropriate although the claim made in clear that Bruni-Sarkozy had no wish to market her image in this way. The court agreed that Pardon did “not have, or even claim to have, Ms Carla Bruni’s consent to use her image as part of a publicity campaign.” Awarding Bruni-Sarkozy 40,000 Euros (£37,000), the court also banned all sales of the bag. Pardon’s, which sells fashion clothing and accessories on the Island had already withdrawn the 3 Euro bag. Boss Peter Mertes said after the hearing the damages were “excessive” adding “It’s a heavy price to pay for a silly mistake”. Pardon have said they will appeal. Sarkozy-Bruni (and President Nicolas Sarkozy) had previously filed a lawsuit against Irish budget airline Ryanair for featuring a photo of the couple in an ad campaign. Ryanair was ordered to pay Bruni 60,000 (£55,000) euros in damages, well short of the 500,000 euros (£465,000) that she was seeking, for use of her image without her consent. Nicolas Sarkozy was awarded a symbolic sum of one euro, as he had requested. Nicolas Sarkozy also recently brought an ultimately unsuccessful action to have a voodoo doll in his image withdrawn when the appellate court said that whilst the doll was an affront to his “personal dignity” it would be disproportionate to ban it.

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