French Rock Star Tries to Disinherits his Children

JohnnyHallydayJohnny Hallyday, known as the French “Elvis”, died recently with a will leaving everything to his fourth wife contrary to French law.

Two of children of the late French rock star Johnny Hallyday plan to contest his will, with family tensions ready to boil over after he left his entire fortune and all his artistic rights to his fourth wife, who is 32 years his junior.

Attorneys acting for Laura Smet, 34, and her half-brother, David Hallyday, 51, said the will drafted by the man known as “the French Elvis” was “manifestly in contravention of the requirements of French law.”

Laura said she was “stupefied and hurt” after discovering that she and David–Hallyday’s only two biological children–were written out of their father’s will. The document was signed in California, where Hallyday spent most of his later years.

In an open letter to the French news agency AFP, Smet also described some hard feelings between family members. She believed she’d been prevented by Laeticia, a 42-year-old former model, from meeting with her father, as well as having the chance to say goodbye to him before he died of lung cancer at age 74.

“Dear Papa, it’s two months since you left,” she wrote. “I miss you so much, and at the same time, I have never felt you so close to me. I learned a few days ago that you wrote a will completely disinheriting David and I. It was only a few weeks ago that we were eating together, and you said to me: ‘So when are you going to have a child?’

But what can I pass on to that child about you, someone I’ve admired so much? … So many questions without answers. So many times, we had to hide to see or call each other. I cannot bear not having been able to say goodbye to you, papa, do you know that, at least? … (But) I hear you, papa, and I have decided to fight. I would have preferred it if this could have stayed in the family, but unfortunately, that’s the way our family is.”

In France, a widow doesn’t automatically inherit all her husband’s estate. The custom is to share part of it with his children. Hallyday’s will stated that if Laeticia dies, all of his property and rights should pass to Jade and Joy, the daughters he adopted in Vietnam with her.

Smet’s attorneys said she had been left with “no material goods, no rights to his artistic work, no souvenir, no guitar, not even the signed sleeve of the song Laura, which is dedicated to her … When one is a child, one has the right to receive something from one’s father.”

Hallyday was born Jean-Philippe Smet. The artist sold more than 110 million records and was seen live by an estimated 28 million people in a career that lasted more than 50 years. The recordings of the French Elvis went gold 40 times and platinum 22 times in France.  However, he was virtually unknown abroad.

Reference: The Guardian (February 12, 2018) “Johnny Hallyday's children to contest will leaving them nothing”


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