Hundreds of ‘highly intimate’ images of Carla Bruni and an ex-lover have been stolen during a burglary in Paris.
Police fear they could now be made public, overshadowing the French First Lady’ s official trip to Spain with her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The photographs and videos were taken during 41-year-old Miss Bruni’s affair with philosopher Raphaël Enthoven – the father of her child, Aurélien, eight.
Thieves broke into the flat of actor Julien Enthoven, who is Raphaël’s younger brother.
Raphaël is believed to have entrusted the pictures to his 27-year-old brother because he did not want them to embarrass his new partner - or Mr Sarkozy, said a detective working on the case.
‘The thieves appeared to know exactly what they were looking for – taking highly intimate prints, a camera full of further images, videos, and numerous computer files,’ said the source.
‘They broke into Mr Enthoven’s flat in Rue Dauphine, in the sixth arrondissement, on Sunday night, smashing a window in the sitting room which looks out on to the courtyard.
‘Nobody was at home at the time, and nothing else was taken.’
Police now fear that thieves could take advantage of Miss Bruni’s status as an international sex symbol by selling the pictures for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
They could be posted on the web so as to cause maximum embarrassment to Mr Sarkozy, who is only too well aware of his third wife’s colourful past.
Ms Bruni’s ex-lovers including British rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, as well as a number of other public figures.
‘We are doing everything we can to retrieve the images, and would ask anyone with any information about them to come forward immediately,’ the detective added.
Ms Bruni had been living with the Enthoven’s father, the Paris philosopher Jean-Paul Enthoven, in the later 1990s before cheating on him with his married elder son.
Raphaël Enthoven’s ex-wife, the author Justine Lévy, has never forgiven her for the affair – portraying Ms Bruni in a book as a ‘husband stealer’ with a ‘terminator smile’.
Nude pictures of Ms Bruni were released just before a state visit to Britain last year. Since then she has been trying hard to tone down her risqué image.
Official pictures of Ms Bruni in her now trademark style - demure designer dresses and low-heeled or flat shoes - have been making front pages and leading TV new bulletins during the current trip to Spain.
It is the third time this year that those linked to Mr Sarkozy have been burgled in Paris.