By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former supermodel, lit up the town Monday, outshining her politician husband.
As President Sarkozy welcomed the US to "the club of states who don't turn their back on the sick and the poor" at the World Leaders Forum at Columbia on Monday, the French First Lady stole the spotlight, drawing a crowd of more than 100 reporters, the AP reported.
Despite rumors of marital troubles between the Sarkozy-Brunis, who married in 2008, the two were seen holding hands as they walked side-by-side into the Columbia auditorium, according to the news outlet.
Bruni, who wore a "swept-up chignon and form-fitting black top with gray skirt," received a "rousing ovation" from the crowd of students, professors and local residents, after Columbia President Lee Bollinger called for them to give her a "special welcome," the AP said.
After upstaging her husband in Morningside Heights, Bruni was spotted at the French Alliance and the Julliard School in Lincoln Center, where she launched an exchange program for French and American art students.
The program, which will allow 25 students from each country to study overseas, will be backed by a $2.02 million (1.5 million euro) donation from the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation.