Ex-IMF chief's NYC apt. new tourist hot spot

May 22, 2011 7:05:01 PM PDT
The New York apartment where the former IMF leader is under house arrest on sexual assault charges has become a new tourist hot spot.

On Sunday, open-top buses passed by, with cameras pointed at the luxury high-rise in lower Manhattan where Dominique Strauss-Kahn was holed up with his wife, Anne Sinclair.

She left in the late morning, getting into an SUV, destination unknown. Sinclair returned about four hours later.

Sinclair, a prominent French TV journalist before her marriage to Strauss-Kahn, has stood by her husband since his arrest last Sunday. The 62-year-old economist is accused of sexually assaulting a maid in his suite at Sofitel, near Manhattan's Times Square. He has denied the allegations.

Strauss-Kahn was released from Rikers Island jail on Friday on $1 million bail plus $5 million bond.

A crowd of international reporters and onlookers is gathering around the clock outside the 21-story Empire Building at 71 Broadway, across from Wall Street. Strauss-Kahn was moved there Friday from his jail cell.

Another Manhattan building rejected him, after residents expressed fears about the kind of 24-hour media frenzy being staged on Broadway behind police barricades.

Amandine Atalaya, a correspondent for France's TF1 television channel, flew in from Paris after Strauss-Kahn's arrest. She estimated that she's done more than 200 standup reports from New York in the past week, getting only about four hours of sleep a night.

Atalaya says U.S. media "have been very harsh with Strauss-Kahn" in a way she says French reporters are not.

He stood a chance of becoming his country's next president, but now awaits his next New York court appearance, which is scheduled for June 6. Strauss-Kahn resigned Wednesday as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF has been working to find a successor to lead an organization that provides billions in loans to stabilize the world economy. France's finance minister, Christine Lagarde, has emerged as a front-runner to replace Strauss-Kahn, but emerging economies have pressed for an end to Europe's traditional stranglehold on the position of IMF managing director.

The IMF has been accepting nominations from member countries for candidates to succeed Strauss-Kahn. Its executive board said it plans to make its selection by the end of June.

ONLINE: Strauss-Kahn bail documents