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PARIS (Reuters Life!) - The head of French media group Lagardere has found himself hitting the headlines, after the video of a photo shoot of him posing with his much younger model girlfriend went viral.
The footage and interview, in which the couple talk about how they met and fell in love, have raised eyebrows in France, where the right to privacy of top managers and politicians is seen as sacrosanct.
Arnaud Lagardere, head of the eponymous Lagardere media group, which publishes Elle and Paris Match magazines and has a stake in aerospace and defense group EADS, and Jade Foret, a 20-year-old Belgian model, posed for the photos for Belgian weekly magazine Le Soir.
Footage of the photo shoot, which shows Lagardere, 50, and a scantily clad Foret, kissing and embracing has attracted a flurry of mocking comments on YouTube and references on websites including micro-blogging site Twitter.
One commenter on French newspaper Le Monde's blog wrote:
"Pitiful. Bling bling society has really sunk low."
Another compared the couple to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his tall, ex-model wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who have also attracted criticism for their lavish, media-friendly lifestyle, as the film shows Lagardere is shorter than his brunette girlfriend.
In an excerpt from the interview published on Le Soir's website, Lagardere said he fell in love quite quickly, but did not believe Foret felt the same way at the time.
"Jade is very attractive physically, but what I liked very much about her was her character," he said, adding that physically she reminded him of his mother.
Lagardere took over the helm of the company from his father, Jean-Luc Lagardere, who died in 2003. He is set to become chairman of Airbus parent EADS next year.
Lagardere has previously attracted criticism for the group's strategy, coming under pressure from activist shareholder Guy Wyser-Pratte to sell non-core assets.
To view footage of the photo shoot click: here
Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford, editing by Leslie Gevirtz