Macron leads tributes for controversial French ex-culture minister


French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday led tributes to former culture minister Frederic Mitterrand, who died at the age of 76, and was celebrated for beaming the arts into French homes through accessible television shows.

A nephew of former Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, Frederic Mitterrand nonetheless attracted controversy over a 2005 book seen as a work of autofiction whose narrator boasted of paying for sex with young males in southeast Asia.

Frederic Mitterrand died on Thursday at his Paris home aged 76 after a months-long fight against cancer, his family told AFP.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Macron praised a man who "lived a thousand existences, all woven together with a common thread: culture for everyone".

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who appointed Mitterrand to serve as culture minister in his right-wing government from 2009 to 2012, paid tribute to "a deeply cultured and delicate man... an unclassifiable personality" who leaves behind "so many testimonies of his love for art and culture".

Beginning with his trademark "Bonsoir!" ("Good evening!"), Mitterrand's television shows were celebrated for bringing culture, and especially cinema, to a wide audience.

He had a particular fascination with the golden age of Hollywood cinema and its stars including Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner.

His last work was a book called simply "Brad" published in 2023, praising modern-day Hollywood legend Brad Pitt.

The author of numerous books, his 2005 work "La Mauvaise Vie" ("The Bad Life") -- widely seen as autobiographical -- sparked controversy over passages where the narrator admits paying young males for sex in Asia and north Africa.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen in 2009 seized on this passage in a television show to publicly accuse Mitterrand of carrying out sex tourism.

He vehemently denied the accusations and rejected any wrongdoing, including pedophilia, saying that while he had written about "boys" in the book this did not mean they were underage.

While admiring his uncle Francois -- president from 1981 to 1995 and modern France's first Socialist leader -- he refused to follow the same political path, backing right-winger Jacques Chirac for the presidency.

Comments 0