Friday, November 28, 2014

One Foot in the Grave .... or Not?

One day back in 1975, a dapper middle-aged French lawyer by the name of Andre-Francois Raffray came up with a scheme he no doubt thought was brilliant.

He approached 90-year-old Jeanne Calment who owned an apartment in a sought after area and agreed to pay her 2,500 Francs a month for the rest of her life, if, when she died he could take ownership of the apartment regardless of how much money had been paid.

The benefits were obvious, Calment would have an income for the rest of her life and at some point in the not too far away future, Raffray would take possession of her property having in all likelihood paid way below market value for it.

The flaw in the plan ...

Little did Raffray know, Calment was in no hurry to meet her maker and had absolutely no intention of leaving this world, without realising return on investment.  

There were indeed some tell tale signs that longevity may have a say in it. Calment’s mother had lived to 86, her father to 93 and her brother to 96, while Jeanne herself was unusually active, having taken up fencing from the ripe old age of 85. Even so, nobody could have foreseen that Mrs. Calment would live to be the oldest person in the history of the world.

The months turned into years and years into decades. Raffray never did collect on the deal as the old biddy outlived him. To add insult to injury, seeing that the contract was only over when Jeanne passed away, Raffray’s widow was forced to continue the payments.  She eventually died at the age of 122, having been paid close to double what the apartment was actually worth.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


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