cbruninudeshot.jpgThe profits from the sale of a nude portrait of Carla Bruni, which fetched £45,000 at auction, have been rejected by a Cambodian charity.

Swiss paediatrician Beat Richner, who heads up the children's medical care group, refused the donation raised at Christie's in New York last week, because Cambodians disapprove of exploiting female flesh for money.

"My decision was taken out of respect for our patients and their mothers," he said in an interview with Le Matin Dimanche. "Accepting money obtained from exploitation of the female body would be perceived as an insult."

The photograph, which was taken by Michael Comte in 1993 for Italian Vogue, sold for nearly 23 times its estimated value. Auctioned off around the same time that Bruni made her first official visit to the UK as France's first lady, the high price is said to be due to the media storm which surrounded her when she and her husband, president Nicolas Sarkozy, visited last month.

Dr Richner added that the sale from the auction was a way of 'using' the hospital. "The idea behind this gift was to get publicity for the auction and the photographer," he said.

The image was one in a series of shots which also featured Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen from a private collection. The profits from the auction will now be offered to a Swiss research institute developing the process of recycling used water into fresh drinking water in poor countries.