What the papers said 22 Feb 2019

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Are the papers really full of what’s going to happen to a cat?

They continue their look at Lagerfeld. Not Karl, the celebrated Chanel designer who passed away this week, but Choupette, his Burmese cat, who is now an orphan, and extremely rich.

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, it’s not clear), she has three full-time minders, and the services of a chef.

Her recipe book is for sale, and 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.

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.

You can make your own judgement about that.

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.

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. But, since Karl’s country of residence takes precedence in all financial and legal questions, poor Choupy (as her friends call her) is going to have to get her legal team working.

Plenty of precedents in the USA

In the United States, for example, a dog by the name of Gunther IV inherited 328 million euros in 1992.

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 cat, 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, although to be fair, probably not in the luxurious conditions she no doubt currently enjoys.

Neither Le Monde nor Le Figaro 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”.