In 1837, Thierry Hermès established the fabled marque in Paris. Originally a saddle-making workshop when horse-drawn transportation was common, Hermès continues to utilize the equine theme in the luxury goods made today. Such goods include scarves, handbags, small leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, and home goods, including the Avalon blanket.
The Hermès “marque” is synonymous with luxury goods . . . the most famous of which are the Birkin Bag and Kelly Bag – both named for women known for their exquisite fashion sense and style: Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly. While the Kelly bag had been in production since the 1930s, Hermès adopted the Kelly name in 1956 after a photograph of the Princess carrying the bag was plastered around the world. The Birkin bag was specifically crafted for the actress and singer after she met Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight where the contents of her bag spilled onto the floor. Monsieur Dumas designed the Birkin to create the ideal bag that would be both elegant and voluminous.
Will a Gardener Inherit a piece of the Hermès fortune?
In 2022, Hermès earned 11.6 billion Euros making it the second most valuable luxury brand in the world next to LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey), also based on Paris.
Recently, an heir of the Hermès company, Nicolas Puech, 80, has purportedly began the process of adopting is his former gardener, aged 51, and cancel a “succession agreement” whereby he pledged to fund a charity he established in 2011. The estimated value of the lucky gardener’s share of the inheritance is over $5 billion Euros. Nicolas Puech is a direct descendant of Thierry Hermès; he is unmarried and childless.
Swiss Law – Adult Adoption, Contract of Succession, and Inheritance
In Switzerland, a person may create a will or enter into a contract of succession. A contract of succession must be signed before a notary public by both the maker and the recipient. All contracting parties must agree to amend a contract of succession.
While Switzerland permits adult adoption, it is rare, as is the case in most jurisdictions around the world. It is permissible to adopt a an adult, but only under certain circumstances. The adopter must demonstrate that there are “important reasons” to adopt the adult. The adopter and adoptee must have lived together for a year.
As a Swiss citizen and resident of Martigny, Switzerland, the proceeding will take place in the canton of Valais. Without question, the requested adult adoption will face challenges from both the charitable fund and the remaining family members in control of the Hermès fortune. Given the staunch opposition and legal hurdles of adult adoption, it is unlikely the adoption will be approved and recognized by the Swiss courts.
While adult adoption is rare, Monsieur Puech’s attempts to disinherit are not uncommon. At Baxter-Thompson Law, we can help when your inheritance is threatened by an interloper trying to gain control of a person with waning capacity or by shutting out family members. To discuss how to preserve your rightful inheritance, contact our office for a free consultation.