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Heiress who backed husband's rise to the top stands by her man – again

There was a time when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was known in France as "Monsieur Sinclair", after his celebrity wife, Anne.

The long-suffering Ms Sinclair, 62, was a TV star in France in the Eighties when "DSK" was a little-known economics boffin in the Socialist party. His rise in the past 15 years was due, it was said in the party, to his own talent but also to the money, political connections and driving ambition of his third wife.

After Ms Sinclair had loyally supported Mr Strauss-Kahn through previous infidelities, all eyes and ears in France were turned this week to her first reaction to her husband's arrest in New York on charges of sexual assault. "I don't believe for a second in the accusations made against my husband for sexual assault," she said on Sunday evening. "I have no doubt that his innocence will be proved." Ms Sinclair and Mr Strauss-Kahn married in 1991. She has two children from a previous marriage and he has four from two previous marriages. On Monday, she flew to New York to be with her husband, or as it turned out, to visit him in Rikers Island prison.

Until 1997, Ms Sinclair was one of the best-known faces on French TV, ably interviewing French and foreign politicians – from François Mitterrand to Bill Clinton – for the current affairs show 7 sur 7 on the most popular channel, TF1. She gave up her post when Mr Strauss-Kahn became finance minister in 1997 and agreed to run TF1's internet spin-off company for four years.

Friends say the couple remain close, and almost dependent on one another, despite episodes like Mr Strauss-Kahn's much-publicised affair with a Hungarian woman at the IMF in 2008.

Anne Sinclair's "English" name – she was born Anne-Elise Schwartz – was originally the code name of her father, Robert Schwartz, a wartime resistance leader. The family kept the name after the war. She is a wealthy woman as the sole heiress of her grandfather, Paul Rosenberg, who made a fortune as an art dealer in the first part of the 20th century. He was one of the first dealers to grasp the importance of Pablo Picasso.

In recent months, when Mr Strauss-Kahn seemed reluctant to take the presidential plunge and leave his job as head of the IMF, Ms Sinclair's blog often seemed to be pushing him forward. According to political gossip in Paris, she felt that she was "owed" the position of French first lady after placing her own television career on hold.