A contentious battle is unfolding in Switzerland’s Valais canton involving Nicolas Puech, an 80-year-old billionaire and fifth-generation descendant of the founder of Hermes International SCA, Europe’s largest family fortune. Puech, known for his reclusive lifestyle, is seeking to cancel his inheritance contract with the Isocrates Foundation, a charitable organization that he established. The foundation, however, is publicly contesting Puech’s move to sever ties.
The dispute has taken a unique turn as reports suggest that Puech has initiated administrative procedures to adopt his middle-aged gardener, intending to bequeath at least a portion of his considerable fortune to him. Isocrates Foundation has opposed the unilateral annulment of the succession agreement, emphasizing the legal complexity of such a move.
The Isocrates Foundation, based in Sion with offices in Geneva, has undergone changes in its focus and statutes. Initially supporting a broad range of charitable, humanitarian, religious, medical, cultural, and environmental initiatives, the foundation shifted its emphasis to public interest and investigative journalism, responsible digitalization, and fostering a healthy digital public space.
Puech, who owns an estimated 5.7% stake in Hermes, valued at approximately €12 billion, has faced scrutiny for his role in a past corporate battle against LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. His decision not to join family members in consolidating Hermes shares during the conflict led to his estrangement from the family.
The legal complexities surrounding Puech’s attempt to cancel the inheritance contract and adopt his gardener raise questions about the fate of his substantial fortune, with potential implications for both charitable initiatives and the broader Hermes business.
As the dispute unfolds, observers are closely watching for legal developments, potential press conferences, and the resolution of the complex dynamics within the Hermes family and its charitable foundation. The case sheds light on the intersection of family dynamics, inheritance, and philanthropy within one of Europe’s wealthiest families.