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OPINION

Eye on France: Choupette Lagerfeld in multi-million euro catfight over heritage

Choupette Lagerfeld: I'm not only beautiful, I'm also very rich.
Choupette Lagerfeld: I'm not only beautiful, I'm also very rich. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChoupettesDiary.

Today, we continue our look at Lagerfeld. Not Karl, the celebrated Chanel designer who passed away yesterday. But Choupette, his Burmese cat, who is now an orphan, and extremely rich.

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In 2015, Karl described his cat as his heir, explaining to a television audience his intention to leave her a sufficiently large fortune to ensure that she could continue to live in the style to which she has become accustomed – even after the designer's death.

Choupette has her own bank account and website, she’s on Twitter (where she has over 27,000 followers, whether cats or humans, I can’t tell), she has three full-time minders, the services of a chef whose job it is to come up with the sort of tasty morsels that your better class of cat can get her carefully polished teeth into.

You can buy her recipe book if you want to give your own tattered gutter dweller a taste of the high life. The income from that book and her various jobs for advertising agencies mean that Choupette is already a very rich feline.

Her personal fortune is estimated by French daily newspaper Le Figaro at several million euros.

Shock! Horror! Man falls in love with beast!

She has access to Lagerfeld’s private jet. In an 2013 CNN interview, Karl lamented the current impossibility of marriage between animals and humans, admitting that he had fallen in love with his fury little pet and would marry her if the law allowed.

Which is either very sad or very weird, depending on how you look at it.

The problem is that French law also forbids the leaving of a heritage to an animal, no matter how exceptional.

Choupette, I’m afraid to say, has no judicial status. She doesn’t exist.

Now, in Germany, Karl’s country of origin, there’d be no problem at all. There, you can leave your millions to a stuffed parrot if it suits you. So Choupette would be rolling in even more of it. But, since Karl’s country of residence takes precedence in all financial and legal questions, poor old Choupy (as her friends call her) is going to have to get her legal team working on this side of the Rhine.

Plenty of precedents in the US of A

In the United States, for example, a dog by the name of Gunther IV inherited 328 million euros in 1992. Le Figaro does not say if he subsequently died of an overdose of filet steak, but I fear the worst.

Oprah Winfrey plans to leave 27 million euros to be divided between her five dogs.

All is not lost for Choupette

If Karl put in place a foundation, with the object of looking after the little beast, all will be well. Or he could have named someone he trusts to inherit on Choupette’s behalf, and spend her fortune for her. Or he may have named the Society for the Protection of Animals in his will, in which case they automatically take care of the orphaned creature for the remainder of its days.

Neither Le Monde nor Le Figaro, both serious newspapers, is sure which, if any, of these legal strategies the great designer may have put in place.

But Le Figaro thinks Karl went for the trusted human option because he said in the same television interview that the person who would look after Choupette after the designer went through the great cat-flap in the sky “would not have to struggle to make ends meet”.

We'll keep you informed on the fate of Choupette's fortune.

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