In a way, maybe money does grow on trees.
Nicolas Puech, the fifth-generation heir of Thierry Hermès, is reportedly planning to bequeath part of his massive wealth to his 51-year-old gardener, who he also intends to legally adopt.
According to the Swiss French-language publication Tribune de Genève, as well as Fortune magazine, the 80-year-old fashion house heir has indicated he will leave a substantial portion of his US$11 billion (over C$14.7 billion) fortune to his gardener.
Puech is unmarried and has no children. He inherited the wealth as a descendant of Thierry Hermès, who established the Hermès fashion house in 1837. Today, the company is best known for its iconic, and very pricey, Birkin bags.
Puech owns between five and six per cent of the shares in Hermès, according to numerous reports. Tribune de Genève said the gardener could inherit as much as half of the wealth from Puech.
The gardener has not been named publicly but is reportedly of Moroccan descent and married with two children.
He may also inherit US$5.9 million (nearly C$7.9 million) worth of property assets from Puech, who owns property in Switzerland, Morocco, Marrakesh and Montreux. Fortune said the inheritance of Swiss property specifically may pose an issue due to the country’s strict laws surrounding adult adoption.
Regardless, Puech has allegedly already initiated the adoption processes to position the unnamed gardener as his true heir. There may be legal battles to come surrounding the allocation of Puech’s estate.
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The fashion house heir reportedly dedicated his fortune to the Isocrates Foundation years earlier, which he founded to promote media diversity in Switzerland. Puech is not directly involved in Hermès’ operations and left the brand’s supervisory board in 2014.
At the time, a representative for Puech said he resigned after he was “beleaguered by members of his family, who have attacked him on several fronts.” Some of the inter-family disagreement appeared to revolve around LVMH’s stealthy acquisition of a 23 per cent stake in Hermès between 2001 and 2013.
Puech is still reportedly arranging the beneficiaries of his estate.
Today, Hermès is valued at approximately US$220 billion (almost C$294.9 billion). Hermès is the second most valuable luxury brand, second only to LVMH.
Puech is not the only ultra-wealthy person to make unconventional decisions about their will and estate. After his death in 2010, fashion designer Alexander McQueen left £50,000 (C$85,550) to his three dogs, Minter, Juice and Callum.
In 1988, a cat named Blackie inherited £7 million (about C$12 million, by today’s standards) from their deceased owner, who was an antiques dealer. The owner, Ben Rea, did not leave any money to his family — though Blackie went on to become the wealthiest cat ever.
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