An Hermès Heir Wants to Give Half His $12 Billion Fortune to His Gardener—and Lawyers Are Going Nuts Nicolas Puech, the grandson of Hermès' founder, intends to legally adopt the 51-year-old former groundskeeper as his son, ensuring he inherits his billions.

By Jonathan Small

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's Succession meets Knives Out—only this Hollywood-like plot is real.

Nicolas Puech, 80, the estranged Hermès heir, announced a bold plan to adopt his 51-year-old former gardener and handyman to bequeath him his $11 billion fortune. Puech is the grandson of the founder of the fashion giant and owns 5.7% of the company.

According to the Swiss publication Tribune de Genève, the reclusive Peuch has little contact with his family. Single and childless, he considers the gardener (whose name has not been released) to be like kin. Not much else is known publicly about the gardener besides that he comes "from a modest Moroccan family" and has a Spanish wife and two children.

Related: 'Wolf in Cashmere' Bernard Arnault Has a Cutthroat Reputation. In a 'Succession'-Like Drama, He's Eyeing His Replacement — and It Might Not Be Family.

Reversal of fortune

Previously, Peuch promised to hand over his money to his foundation. But earlier this year, he had a change of heart, sending a "handwritten note" to the foundation expressing his wishes for a new succession. Shockwaves ensued.

With no direct heirs to his name, the billionaire may get away with his plan. But not without major legal hurdles. According to Tribune de Genève, adopting an adult child in Switzerland is complicated—add that the adoptee stands to earn billions, and it becomes a high-stakes battle.

Bad blood

This is not the first time Puech has clashed with his family. In 2014, he left Hermès board of directors after a hostile takeover bid by fashion rival LVMH. But he retained his shares, making him among the wealthiest individuals in Switzerland. He now lives in a mansion with 66 other inhabitants in La Fouly, according to El Pais.

Hermès, now the third-largest publicly listed company in France worth an estimated $200 billion, is no stranger to the spotlight. Still, this latest development has taken center stage, evoking questions and curiosity about the future of this storied empire.

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

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