PARIS – The late fashion god Karl Lagerfeld was as instantly-recognizable for his sunglasses and his silver ponytail as he was famous for his beloved female cat, Choupette, whom he vowed to bequeath his inheritance. But is that really possible?
In a 2015 interview, the extravagant chief designer for Chanel famously said that Choupette would never know squalor nor want.
“She has her own little fortune, she’s an heiress,” he explained.
When asked about his plans for his legacy, Lagerfeld had also hinted that the blue-eyed Birman would be one of several heirs: “Don’t worry, there’s enough for everyone,” he quipped.
Two years earlier, he had told CNN that he would marry his sand-colored pet if it were legally possible.
“I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat,” he said at that time.
Choupette, who belongs to a domestic breed also known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” has become more than used to being in the spotlight ever since Lagerfeld adopted her in 2011 after cat-sitting for his French friend and model, Baptiste Giabiconi.
She is fed from silver trays and groomed daily while surrounded by the utmost luxury (not only by rich person’s pet standards).
The fortunate feline has her own Instagram account – which boasts an astonishing 200,000 followers – with a bio that reads: “I’m Daddy Karl Lagerfeld’s spoiled Chanel & Fendi pussy whose maids pamper.”
She has an entourage of two maidservants, a bodyguard and a chauffeur to help her pursue a modeling career that has generated at least 3 million euros ($3.4 million).
While the details of the Kaiser’s will remain unknown, various publications have pegged his wealth within a range between $300-500 million.
Xavier de la Chaise, a French lawyer specialized in inheritance law from the firm Omega Avocats, told EFE that reports of the furry heiress had been greatly exaggerated.
“I’m reading it on many media, but this is just journalistic license. In French law, an animal is considered chattel property with particular rights, but it cannot inherit,” he explained.
“However, money can be left to a person or an association with the responsibility of looking after the animal,” De La Chaise clarified.
While a single person could theoretically inherit all or part of Lagerfeld’s fortune with the sole purpose of taking care of Choupette, a more popular option in France is to let an animal welfare group take up the task.
For example, in 2018, inheritances represented 70 percent of the revenue raised by the Societe Protectrice des Animaux, France’s biggest animal protection group, amounting to 33 million euros.
More than 90 percent of the people who donate their wealth to SPA are childless, like in the case of Lagerfeld.
In countries that allow people to disinherit their heirs, such as the United States, animals actually are able to inherit money.
That was the case of Michael Jackson’s famous chimpanzee, Bubbles, who made off with $2 million after his owner’s death.
Although Lagerfeld lived in France since the 1950s, there is still a chance the German-born design genius could have left a will with a provision that it be applied following the laws of his country of origin.
In Germany, a third person can be appointed to administer the inheritance.
This option seems quite likely, since when journalists reminded Lagerfeld that a cat could not inherit anything in France, he replied: “I don’t care because I’m not French.”