Cécilia Attias in 2014.
|Born||Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz
12 November 1957
|Other names||Cécilia Martin
|Known for||Marriage to the French President|
|Spouse(s)||Jacques Martin (1984-1989)
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 abandoned 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). The release process is described in the book Notes from Hell form the perspective of one of the medics, Valya Cherveniashka.
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.
In 1987, Sarkozy, who was married to his first wife at the time, met Cécilia Martin again and has said he felt "struck by lightning". Other sources, however, state that Sarkozy fell in love with the bride on their wedding day. Cécilia Martin left 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 had two sons from his first marriage.
Nicolas Sarkozy once declared that Cécilia Sarkozy 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 day, my only real worry is Cécilia."
Rumors had circulated since Sarkozy's election as president in May 2007 that the couple had separated, and further rumors surfaced in the French media in October 2007 that they were soon expected to announce their plans to divorce. On 18 October 2007 the Élysée Palace 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."
She married Attias, Executive Chairman of The Experience, an events management company, on 23 March 2008, at Rockefeller Center in New York.
Cécilia Attias Foundation for Women
In October 2008, Cécilia Attias announced the launch of the Cécilia Attias Foundation for Women, which "helps to actualize concrete improvement in the lives of women around the world by providing a strategic, financial, networking, and media platform for established nongovernmental organizations, social enterprises, and associations that champion the cause of women's equality and well-being."
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- 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.
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- "Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women". Ceciliaattiasfoundation.org. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
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- Simons, Stefan (28 May 2007). "Sarkozy and his model wife". Salon.com. Retrieved 19 October 2007.
- Equy, Laure (14 August 2007). "Au fond Cécilia, c'est mon seul souci". Libération (in French). Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "Toutes les réponses aux questions que vous vous posez sur les rumeurs autour du couple Sarkozy". 20 Minutes (in French). 15 October 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Walt, Vivienne (16 October 2007). "The Sarkozy Soap Opera". Time. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cécilia, are filing for divorce, French media reports". The New York Times. 17 October 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- 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 ex-wife weds in New York". CNN. 24 March 2008. Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2008.