12 November 1957
|Other names||Cécilia Martin, Cécilia Sarkozy|
|Known for||First Lady of France|
|Spouse(s)||Jacques Martin (1984–1988)
Nicolas Sarkozy (1996–2007)
Richard Attias (2008–present)
Cecilia Attias was born Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz. Her elderly father, André Ciganer (born Aron Chouganov), was a Moldovan immigrant born in Bălţi, Bessarabia in 1898 of Russian Jewish and Moldovan Romani lineage. He left home at the age of 13, just before the First World War. Ciganer moved to Paris, where he became a furrier. In 1937 he married Spanish-Belgian Diane Albéniz de Swert, a daughter of Alfonso Albéniz Jordana, a Spanish diplomat who played with Real Madrid in the early 1900s. Her maternal great-grandfather was the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz.
Cécilia Sarkozy Attias has three older brothers:
- Patrick Ciganer-Albeniz is a program executive officer of the Integrative Financial Management Program of NASA.
- Christian Ciganer-Albéniz is a consultant for companies such as Framatome, AXA, Lagardère, Crédit Foncier, Accor, and Aurel Conseil.
- Ivan Antoine Ciganer-Albéniz
Born with a heart defect, she suffered from cardiac problems which hampered her growth. She underwent open cardiac surgery when she was 13, and she made up quickly for her growth delay. She stands 1.78 m (5' 10") tall.
She studied piano (first prize in piano at Conservatoire), and obtained a baccalauréat B, after studying for 13 years in a French religious institution, Sœurs de Lübeck. She enrolled at Panthéon-Assas University for law studies but abandonned them and went on to become a parliamentary assistant to René Touzet. She also was a fitting model for Schiaparelli, the French fashion house, and worked for a public-relations company.
When her husband was a minister, Cécilia Sarkozy had an office next to his, serving as his close adviser. In 2002, she was appointed to the Office of the Ministry of the Interior. In 2005 she was appointed Chief of Staff for the UMP Party.
Cécilia Sarkozy visited Libya twice in July 2007 to visit Muammar al-Gaddafi and helped in securing the release of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had all spent years on Libya's death row after allegedly being tortured into confessing to infecting Libyan babies with the HIV virus. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Parliamentary Commission expected to be created in October 2007 concerning the terms of the release of the six, as she had played an "important role" in their liberation according to Pierre Moscovici (PS).
Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz moved in with the popular French TV host Jacques Martin in 1983. They married on 10 August 1984. The wedding took place in Neuilly-sur-Seine at the town hall, and Nicolas Sarkozy, then the mayor of Neuilly, conducted the wedding. The Martins had two daughters, Judith Martin (b. 22 August 1984) and Jeanne-Marie Martin (b. 8 June 1987). She has a grandson, Augustin and a granddaughter Diane Elizabeth, born of her daughter Jeanne-Marie.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who was married to his first wife at the time, met his future wife again three years later and has said he felt "struck by lightning". Other sources, however, state that Sarkozy fell in love with the bride on her wedding day. In any case, Cécilia Martin would leave her husband to live with Sarkozy in 1988 and obtained a divorce three months later. Once Sarkozy had himself obtained a divorce in 1996, they married in Neuilly on 23 October 1996. The witnesses were Martin Bouygues and billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault. Six months later, on 23 April 1997, Cécilia Sarkozy gave birth to the couple's only child, Louis. Nicolas Sarkozy has two sons from his first marriage.
Nicolas Sarkozy once declared that his now-former wife was his "strength and [his] Achilles' heel". Nicolas Sarkozy wrote in his 2005 book, Testimony, "Today, Cécilia and I are reunited for good, for real, doubtless for ever ... [W]e are not able and do not know how to separate from each other." He has said his wife is his "true soulmate" and "the person without whom nothing I do would be possible". In July 2007, he said, "At the end of the day, my only real worry is Cécilia."
The Associated Press and CNN.com reported on 18 October 2007, that a divorce announcement was imminent. The New York Times reported that same day that the Élysée Palace had released a statement declaring that the Sarkozys “announce their separation by mutual consent.” Shortly afterwards, the palace corrected the separation announcement by stating that the Sarkozys had actually officially divorced.
On 19 October 2007, an interview with Cécilia Sarkozy was published on the front page of L'Est Républicain, a regional French newspaper. In it, she admitted that she had run away with her lover, Richard Attias, in 2005 ("I met someone, I fell in love, I left") and that though she eventually returned to Sarkozy, they were unable to repair their marriage. "What happened to me has happened to millions of people: one day you no longer have your place in the couple. The couple is no longer the essential thing of your life. It no longer functions; it no longer works."
Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women
In October 2008, Cecilia Attias announced the launch of her Foundation for women's rights. The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women actualizes concrete improvement in the lives of women worldwide by serving as a strategic, media, and financial platform for small and moderate sized, established non-governmental organizations, associations and foundations who champion the cause of women’s equality and well-being. Recently, Cecilia Attias delivered the keynote address at the ARISE Africa Fashion Awards entitled "The Promise of Africa."
- Chrisafis, Angelique (24 October 2007). "The Sarkozys' News". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 15 December 2007.
- "Cécilia Sarkozy: The First Lady vanishes". The Independent (London). 19 October 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2007.[dead link]
- Day, Elizabeth; Samuel, Henry (27 August 2005). "The photographer, the minister, his wife and her 'lover'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Genealogy". GeneALL.net. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Pre-history and first official title (1900–1910)". Real Madrid C.F. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- Buck, Joan Juliet, "Political Heartache", Vogue, December 2007, page 180
- Patrick Ciganer. "Full Radio Interview Transcript". NASA. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Telefonica Moviles S.A.". Google. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- Jones, David (18 May 2007). "Is Nicolas Sarkozy's wife his femme fatale?". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- Wyatt, Caroline (15 May 2007). "Sarkozy soap opera grips Paris". BBC. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Sarkozy's wife visits HIV medics" BBC, 13 July 2007 (English)
- "France-Libye: la gauche réclame des explications à Cécilia Sarkozy", in Libération (with AFP), 14 August 2007 (French)
- "Sarkozy ex-wife weds in New York". CNN. 24 March 2008. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
- Simons, Stefan (28 May 2007). "Sarkozy and his model wife". Salon.com. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- "Bucking convention, French first lady snubs Bush invite". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 19 October 2007.[dead link]
- (French) Journal 20 minutes du 15 octobre 2007
- Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cécilia, are filing for divorce, French media reports – International Herald Tribune
- Walt, Vivienne (16 October 2007). "The Sarkozy Soap Opera". Time. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Sciolino, Elaine (19 October 2007). "Sarkozy Faces Labor and Marital Crises". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Sciolino, Elaine (20 October 2007). "France's Former First Lady Admits Affair and Says Life in Public Eye Isn't for Her". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Sarkozy divorce[dead link]
- The Sarkozy Soap Opera Time magazine article about marriage/divorce rumors, 16 October 2007, By Vivienne Walt
- Sarkozy Faces Labor and Marital Crises New York Times confirmed "the duo had divorced", 19 October 2007, By ELAINE SCIOLINO
- Adieu Already? France's First Couple Divorces Washington Post report on divorce, 19 October 2007, By John Ward Anderson