Hermès billionaire to adopt 51-year-old gardener and leave fortune to him instead of charity

The man, who is of Moroccan origin, would inherit around $11 billion, not including multiple properties around Europe

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Photo: KT file
Photo: KT file

Published: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 9:54 PM

In a surprise move, a descendant of the famous Hermès family, which runs the luxury brand known for its handbags, has decided to adopt a 51-year-old gardener and leave part of his fortune to him, and not to a charitable institution as was previously planned.

The billionaire, Nicolas Puech (80), has begun the legal adoption process, according to the Guardian. The gardener, a man from a Moroccan family, would inherit around $11 billion, not including multiple properties around Europe.

Media reports say that the unconventional path chosen by Puech may have roots in his well-known conflict with the rest of the Hermès family, whom he did not support in a battle with LVMH, the owner of the Louis Vuitton brand. LVMH had managed to acquire a stake in the Hermès brand, and the rest of the major shareholders were to pool their shares to regain control, which Puech did not agree to. Since the conflict, which happened in 2014, he has been estranged from the rest of the family.

Another player in this interesting saga, and perhaps the biggest potential 'loser', is The Isocrates Foundation - an organisation Puech set up to combat misinformation. The portion of his multi-billion dollar that would go to his gardener (if the adoption is successful) was initially meant to be left to the foundation.

The rift between Puech and the foundation was made public lately, with the latter announcing that it 'formally opposed' the founder's decision regarding his fortune. It also said that the cancellation of the inheritance contract seems legally 'unfounded', and that room was open for talks with the Puech.

However, adoption of a 51-year-old employee, with whom he had no contact during the latter's childhood, may prove to be difficult for Puech, who will have to get the go ahead from Swiss courts - a country where adult adoption is rare.

It remains to be seen how this succession story pans out - for Puech, his humble gardener who might find himself to be a billionaire, and the charitable foundation that the Hermès descendant help set up.

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