The ongoing wrangle over Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld’s estate has taken yet another complicated twist.
Lucien Frydlender, 87, was the fashion legend’s trusted accountant for years, and is believed to be the only person with enough knowledge about his assets to help with Lagerfeld’s succession after he passed away in Paris in February 2019.
It was long believed the designer left all his estate of £178,463,375 (200 million euros/$225million) to his beloved cat Choupette. However, the myth has since been debunked, and seven beneficiaries have been named.
Currently an inventory of the late designer’s assets is being drawn up, including a bookstore, apartments in Paris and Monaco, his library and designer furniture.
However, the process has been complicated by the fact that Frydlender – who has an intimate knowledge of Lagerfeld’s assets – is not taking anyone’s calls, Le Parisien weekend supplement reported, according to Voici magazine.
Frydlander’s wife, who remains unnamed, has defended her husband and explained he has not ‘run off to an island,’ but is simply too sick to help with the designer’s will.
TShe said he has been a ‘recluse’ at home in Paris and is ‘very sick,’ not keeping a ‘secret treasure’ hidden away.
According to French media, Frydlender has refused calls from all of Lagerfeld’s potential claimants or their representatives, and won’t take appointments since closing his practice in September 2019.
Due to his decades of managing the designer’s fortune, he is the only one who knows the exact state of his finances and if his estate can be distributed according to his will.
An investigation by Le Parisien revealed a will had been drafted by Lagerfeld before his death.
For some time after he passed in early 2019, it was believed his Birman cat Choupette would inherit some of his fortune.
This is due to several statements Lagerfeld made over the years, including an interview with Le Figaro where he said Choupette had ‘her own little fortune’ and called her ‘an heiress.’
In June 2013, he also told CNN he wished he could marry the feline, and never knew he could ‘love a cat this much.’
It later was revealed a list of seven names had emerged, which included Lagerfeld’s housekeeper, on the condition she kept taking good care of Choupette.
Also believed to have received a share of his fortune are British model Jake Davis, American model Brad Kroenig and his son Hudson, 11, who is Lagerfeld’s godson, according to Le Parisien.
Tensions over the will have emerged between two of Lagerfeld’s heirs, his former muse and boyfriend Baptiste Giabiconi and his right hand man Sébastien Jondeau.
Giabiconi, who was Choupette’s initial owner and gifted her to Lagerfeld, called himself the designer’s ‘favourite.
‘There are seven main heirs to Karl Lagerfeld. On this list, my name is the highest, I’m the first heir.’
Giabiconi recently told French television he had a ‘filial relationship’ with Lagerfeld, after meeting him at a nude modelling session.
He said: ‘As Karl was more interested in taste buds than sex, our relationship soon became one of father-son.’
Le Parisien claimed Giabiconi’s claim to the title has sparked ‘jealousies and dissensions’.
Meanwhile the magazine Voici published an article in March claiming the French model had lost touch with the designer before his death – and stated that his spirit heir is Jondeau.
‘He is not even on the list of persons summoned to the notary for the inheritance! the sources told Voici, insisting Giabiconi and Lagerfeld have had a fall out in recent years and were not in speaking terms when the designer died.
Giabiconi quickly denied this and announced his intention to sue the publication for libel.
He went on to tell Le Parisien that none of Lagerfeld’s friends had fallen out – and claimed the designer would have ‘detested’ reports which alleged they had.
‘We are all in the same boat,’ he said. ‘We are sailing in mid-ocean and there is a beautiful sun and not the slightest storm.’