Pandora: Nude First Lady for sale

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The Independent Online

Here's an item I guarantee won't be up for discussion over the royal banquet table during the Sarkozys' stay at Windsor this evening.

A nude photograph of the French President's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is be auctioned by Christie's International on 10 April.

The raunchy picture was taken by the French photographer Michel Comte, whose subjects over the years also include Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, back in 1993 when France's first lady was still justplain old Carla Bruni.

The auction house estimate for the photo is around £1,500 to £2,000. Perhaps Sarko's new chum George Bush might care to buy it for the energetic couple as a wedding present.

Wilde response to Mike's plans for new Oscar show

Few can doubt Mike Read's ability to pick himself up off the canvas, following news that he hopes to resurrect across the Atlantic his much-derided musical about Oscar Wilde, but it seems not everyone is happy about the veteran DJ's proposal.

Earlier this month, Read said he would revive Oscar Wilde: The Musical in an off-Broadway version later this year. The move surprised theatre critics, most of whom panned the production when it debuted in London in 2004.

It has also surprised the lead actor Peter Blake, who became embroiled in a legal spat with Read after the play closed, claiming that he and fellow cast members were owed thousands of pounds in unpaid wages.

Blake's agent, Shane Collins, tells me: "As an agent who has been in the business for 30 years, I am outraged that Mr Read has not even bothered to pay his existing debts before doing this. He is supposed to be a millionaire, so why doesn't he pay these people before heading off to try and make a quick buck elsewhere? I really don't know how he gets away with it."

Read, who has in the past blamed the original production's problems on the box office at the Shaw Theatre, is unapologetic.

"Listen, I lost a load of money and everyone understood except Peter," he tells me. "He is a nice bloke but if he wants to keep going on about it after four years, then fine.

"I am having a rethink about reviving it anyway. People seem so determined to give it a kicking that I'm not sure I should bother."

Novelli returns an old favour from Floyd

In a week when Anglo-French relations are at the very top of the political agenda, Jean-Christophe Novelli has extended a courteous invitation to one of British cooking's foremost national treasures.

I hear that the celebrity chef is currently putting up his former mentor and one-time fellow swordsman, Keith Floyd at his home in Hertfordshire.

Floyd, who was responsible for bring "JC" to Britain in 1983, is recuperating after a health scare. Last month, his condition was described as "touch and go" after he collapsed in a friend's pub in Staffordshire and spent more than three weeks in hospital. "Keith is currently taking four months off," I am told. "He and Jean-Christophe go back a long way, so Keith is more than happy to be staying with him."

Up until now, Floyd, 64, had been residing at his home in Avignon, southern France, after he was granted a "quickie" divorce from his fourth wife Tess.

Clooney falls out of fashion

George Clooney is famed for his on-set practical jokery but he has taken none too kindly to being the subject of an early April fool prank.

A press release was sent out this week to the Hollywood media, claiming that Clooney had launched GC Exclusive by George Clooney – a company handling the production of the actor's own range of fashion accessories for men and women.

It is all news to the Cloonster. "This is a hoax," he says. "I have no connection whatsoever with any clothing line bearing my name and, more specifically, GC Exclusive by George Clooney."

It is the second time he has had to put the record straight recently. In an interview with Esquire magazine, he had to bat away claims he was gay.

Apple grumble

The death of Beatles confidante Neil Aspinall has left more of a gaping void than people might have at first imagined.

The boss of the band's company, Apple Corps, was widely credited with boosting the bank accounts of band members long after the group had disbanded. But since his retirement last year, there have been grumblings Apple has taken its eye off the ball.

One insider complains about the proliferation of bootleg material in high street stores and on the internet, as well as the ongoing delay surrounding the Beatles' inclusion on iTunes.

"Neil kept a very beady eye on everything when he was running the show," I'm told. "Since he left, things around there have seemed to be pretty chaotic at times."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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