Jeanne Calment, world's oldest human being, might not have been 122 after all

Originally published at: Jeanne Calment, world's oldest human being, might not have been 122 after all | Boing Boing


You could easily attribute all of the confusion to senility, or the whole thing to a sort of private joke that got out of hand, except for the infamous reverse-mortgage deal she entered into with a man she outlived. If she really were lying about her age, that would turn the whole thing into a bizarre fraud scheme.

That takes her from delightfully spicy super-old lady into cool, calculating, roguish antihero. I’d like to see Judy Dench play her in the movie, with CGI de-aging.


The article points out that France’s inheritance tax in the 1930s was nearly 40%. Just astronomical.


The current UK inheritance tax rate is 40%. I don’t think it is ‘astronommical’, but it is only levied above a given threshold.


Astronomical? I thought it was just the start to prevent an aristocratic class.

But definitely a good motive for why to assume your mom’s identity.


That might not be correct in this case.

If the switch did take place, maintaining this fiction in plain sight would have required an extraordinary and queasy level of deception. Yvonne would have had to share a house with Jeanne’s widower, Fernand, her own father, until his death in 1942; Fernand would have had to pass his daughter off as his wife. Yvonne would have had to force her son Frédéric, seven when “Jeanne” died, to stop calling her “Maman”.

Many others would need to have been complicit. If Zak knew either the people of Arles or Jeanne Calment, the group argued, he would realise how improbable this was. A conspiracy would have been difficult to maintain in a close-knit population of 20,000, and unlikely given Mme Calment’s reputation as a “dragon”, says Pellegrini. “If people had known about the fraud, they wouldn’t have protected her,” she says.

Perhaps the most important blow from the counter-investigation group – not quite a mortal one, but close – was attacking Zak’s idea of a financial motive. The Russian had claimed Yvonne was trying to escape a 35% inheritance tax, but the group’s research led them to believe it would have been more like 6-7% – a rate the family could have managed, with Fernand Calment’s considerable assets.


I’m 27 and so is my son, or he’s 57…depends.

I’m too lazy to translate everything, but this is bullshit, many many articles in France explained who was behind this lie and why, but no, she was not her daughter, she was herself.
Don’t believe everything you read, and this was addressed yeaaaaaars ago already.

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122 years provides a long time frame to get confused about the same thing several times :wink:

A family in the 1930s passing off a person as someone else with the help of a rural sanatorium, a closed casket and a heavy veil at the funeral is such an Agatha Christie conceit that I am inclined to believe it on that basis alone.

If the impersonator needs the heavy veil as a disguise, the deception isn’t going to succeed for very long.

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