Nicolas Puech, the 80-year-old billionaire heir of the luxury retail giant Hermès, is reportedly planning a unique approach to pass on his fortune. Puech, who is currently one of the wealthiest individuals in Switzerland with an estimated net worth between $10.3 billion and $11.4 billion, is considering adopting his 51-year-old gardener to make him his legal heir. This gardener, who comes from a modest Moroccan family, could inherit a significant portion of Puech's wealth, including real-estate properties valued at $5.9 million located in Marrakesh, Morocco, and Montreux, Switzerland.
The decision to potentially adopt his gardener as an heir is seen as an unconventional move, especially considering the gardener's background and his current family situation, being married with two children. This situation is particularly noteworthy as Puech, a descendant of Thierry Hermès who founded the company in 1837, does not have direct descendants of his own.
Puech's relationship with the Hermès company and his family has been complex, highlighted by a bitter rift that emerged in 2014 when the rival luxury conglomerate LVMH acquired a significant stake in Hermès. This event led to Puech's departure from the company's board, indicating deep-seated discord within the family. His current plans could further complicate matters, as they potentially conflict with his previous commitment to the Isocrates foundation, which he established to combat misinformation. Retracting this pledge could spark a legal battle similar to past family feuds.
The proposed adoption is laden with legal challenges, as adult adoption is a rare and complex process in Switzerland. The process typically requires a prior relationship during the adoptee's minor years, a condition that may be difficult to meet in this case. Additionally, the Isocrates foundation has opposed any unilateral cancellation of the inheritance contract, suggesting that the adoption could be a legal strategy by Puech to avoid interference from the foundation in his Will.
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