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PARIS (Reuters Life!) - A nude drawing of France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is being put up for auction in Paris along with pictures of strippers and pin-up girls, in the latest reminder of her steamy past as a model.
A frontal nude photo of Bruni-Sarkozy, who now prefers demure poses in prim Dior dresses by the side of President Nicolas Sarkozy, already caused a stir last year and was eventually auctioned off for $91,000.
"We sent her the catalog, but there hasn't been any reaction," said Caroline Cohn, one of the experts who put together the auction, titled "Pin-up," which also includes photos of stripper Dita von Teese as a nurse and dominatrix.
The drawing by French artist Natacha Toutain, a copy of a photo taken during Bruni's modeling days, shows her kneeling, naked except for a thong and covering one breast with her arm.
It is unlikely to fetch as much as the full-length photo sold last year -- the estimate is for 2,500 - 3,000 euros ($3,402-$4,082).
And in sexually liberal France, few are going to be shocked by the sight of the first lady sharing a showroom with topless calendar girls and naked women in pornographic poses.
Mixing American pin-ups such as Betty Page with saucy French cartoons and erotic illustrations by French artist Aslan, the auction itself is proof of the transatlantic gulf in attitudes.
"If you look at the work by Aslan for example, it's more risque and the women are more naked, in erotic poses," Cohn told Reuters, gesturing toward a wall covered in drawings of buxom nudes. "American pin-up art is lighter." Cohn herself started collecting American pin-ups as a girl and said many French women like the cheerfully teasing pictures carted across the Atlantic by American GIs during World War Two.
Some of the pin-ups on offer, however, may make even tolerant Europeans feel uneasy, such as an Aslan drawing of a naked pregnant woman standing next to a naked little girl.
The auction promises yet more publicity for Bruni-Sarkozy, who rose to fame as a model and singer even before her whirlwind romance with the president -- not a week goes by without her gracing a French magazine cover or newspaper front page.
Editing by Paul Casciato