Hermès heir to leave fortune to ex-gardener, and other surprise heirs

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Nicolas Puech, a descendent of France’s Hermès family, one of the richest clans in Europe, has expressed his wish to bequeath billions to his former gardener, according to multiple reports

Puech, 80, an heir to the fortune generated by his family’s luxury goods firm, wants to cancel his original plans to leave his fortune to the philanthropic Isocrates Foundation, which he founded, and instead make his former employee a legal heir to his estimated $13 billion fortune, Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève reported. 

After the report came out, the Isocrates Foundation issued a statement reiterating that it is bound to a “contract of inheritance” its founder signed in 2011. Currently, the foundation’s main focus is protecting and promoting public debate, according to its website. 

The foundation said in the statement that it was blindsided by Puech’s apparent intentions to leave his fortune to his former employee, maintaining that such an action would be “void and unfounded.”

“The Foundation has therefore opposed the cancellation of the contract, while leaving the door open for discussions with its founder,” the group said, noting that it in discussions with Puech over the matter. 

In 2015, Puech held a 5.8% stake in Hermès. That’s the last year for which Hermès broke out his ownership of the firm. He is not known to have any children. Here are five other wealthy individuals who bestowed fortunes on unexpected recipients. 

Liliane Bettencourt

The L’Oreal cosmetics heiress befriended a young photographer named François-Marie Banier to whom she gave gifts worth more than $1 billion. Bettencourt’s daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, was the principal beneficiary in her mother’s will and filed a criminal case against Banier, who was ultimately convicted of “abuse of weakness.” 

Leona Helmsley

Billionaire real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley caused a stir in when she died in 2007 and left $12 million for her Maltese dog, Trouble. 

Geoffrey Holt

Geoffrey Holt, the caretaker of a mobile home park in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, left $3.8 million to the community of 4,200 people when he died earlier this year.

Karl Lagerfeld

Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld famously left an estimated $300 million to his beloved, Choupette.

Carlotta Liebenstein

The German countess in 1991 left $80 million to her dog, Gunther IV. Today Gunther is worth an estimated $500 million, which has landed him on top of the “Pet Rich List.

Megan Cerullo

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Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News streaming to discuss her reporting.

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